I stopped at our local convenience store to fill my pickup with gas. I was standing at the till when a friend of mine came in, looked me up and down and said, “Brent, I like your style.”
The woman at the till looked surprised and said, “Brent has a style?”
Some people would have taken offense at that, but I have shirts older than her, so I’ll let that crack slide.
“Yeah,” the guy said, “Look at him. He’s got a Norwegian hat, nice scarf, coat. He’s profiling, man - he could be on the cover of GQ.”
“Thanks,” I said. “I got the hat in Norway, the scarf in Peru, and the coat in Walmart.” I don’t read GQ. For all I know, they’ve had a pictorial titled, “The Coats of Walmart.”
“I’ve been to Peru,” he said.
“Yeah, but did you buy a scarf?”
He didn’t even mention my boots, although to be fair, he couldn’t see them from where he was standing. Four or five decades ago when I was riding motorcycles, I always wore boots. Those days are long gone and I’ve spent twenty years or so looking for shoes I can put on without bending over. Style hasn’t been a big priority. But a few years ago, I got a whim for a pair of boots and decided that if I was ever in the sort of place where boots seemed appropriate, I’d buy a pair. I actually set aside money, squirreling away cash, just in case. Two years ago, we went to see the Grand Canyon and I bought my boots. Since one leg isn’t very bendy, I had to buy two little bale hook type things that help me pull them on. I only wear them when I want to look really sporty, and it’s not raining or snowing, muddy or dusty. Living where I live, those boots should last forever.
When I got home, I happened across an article about the way some people shop. Could have been a coincidence, could have been my newly awakened fashion sense.
It was a peek into a completely different world. The young woman interviewed said she shops every day. Her favorite outfit for going out is a red dress and she has 14 of them.
She needs 14 because she never wears a dress more than once. Whenever she gets dressed to go out, she takes a picture of herself and posts it on social media. Once she gets to the party, she posts pictures of herself and her boyfriend. She has 1,500 people who follow her posts and she feels they would be disappointed in her if she wore the same outfit more than once.
Did I mention she’s 16? I could understand not wearing the same dress to the Oscars two years in a row, but a trip to the bowling alley doesn’t seem like it would carry the same level of urgency.
Not that she’d mind, but we could probably never be shopping buddies. She buys 80 to 100 pieces of clothing a year, so she’s always on the cutting edge of fashion. The reason I buy clothes is to not be naked, and I buy as few clothes as possible and the intent is that they’ll last the rest of my life. She doesn’t wear a dress more than once. I did a quick inventory of the outfit I had on and the average age of each piece was five and a half years.
As I write this, I’m looking across the room at five kid-size stacks of clothes, ready for wrapping. Christmas is all about something new, so I don’t have any problem with new clothes for the holiday. On the other hand, Christmas is also about what’s solid, lasting, and transformational. I realize a lot of plastic toys will be broken by noon on Christmas Day, but that’s not what the holiday is about.
I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas, and I hope you’re all out there stylin’ and profilin’, whatever that means.
And I hope that you can latch onto something that lasts longer than a photo in your newest red dress.
Copyright 2019 Brent Olson