“You dress like a P.O.W” (Prisoner of War) sighs my father. A sweeping generalisation of course. But he’s right. The accurate version is “you wear the tatters of a German P.O.W after a decade of Soviet hospitality in Siberia”. Yet this parental grumble marks an interesting experience. Which has taught me about the unspoken social costs of one’s clothing choices.
My farther is no fashionista. Yet he has a refined and distinct style. It’s natural that he expects his son to not look worn down and impoverished. He has a point.
I saw that point in some rare colour photos. They were of German P.OWs getting released by the USSR. The colours of their faded uniforms are the main hue of my wardrobe at the time. Field grey with a sprinkle of khaki. Or what field grey and khaki cloths look like after twenty years of use. The irony is that for most of those. years the shirts were my farther’s.
The best thing about them is they are comfortable beyond words. The cloth aged to perfection. The fit ideal for my girth. They are sturdy things. Never lost a button. Never tore even as the fabric aged. Comfortable in the heat and humidity. They didn’t need ironing. Just wash and hang. Wrinkles evaporated in the afternoon sun.
They are full of thoughtful detail. The pockets roomy and strong. I used to carry novels and water bottles in the cargo pant pockets. The shirt pocket flaps keep your shit from sliding out when bending. They can take multiple digital devices, a pack of tissues and spare mags for the Beretta. Hidden next to the pockets are narrow pen holder type slots. Ideal for securing sun glasses.
Despite all this they don’t look too fancy. I can wear them to the Pola. Yet still satisfy the vagueness of whatever “smart casual” means. I can swoon on. Making you jealous and disgruntled.
So this “P.O.W” look is a preference for usability and comfort over looks. The fading colours don’t bother me. Yet of late it seems to bother everyone else. Mrs C has perfected her “are you really going to wear that” look. Before she “suggests” a newer shirt. Data also shows an spike in the frequency of second curious glances when I’m stand in line trying to write.
I started to avoid mirrors. When I fail, I can see the paleness to the fabric. It is bleached and tired. If I miss a shave the P.O.W the effect is stronger. I know I’ll never wear anything this comfortable again. So in the end the tyranny of appearance is winning. I suppose I could resist to the bitter end. Yet that end will come only when the fabric turns to thread. By then the social consequences would have bled me.
So I have to relegate my favourites to “at home” wear. I’d rather buy new clothes to donate than give these away. The company that made those shirts and cargos is long gone.
I chose to give into social pressures. My clothing choices are not a proclamation of a cultural identity. I’m not making a political statement by what I wear. Or perhaps all this is just the whiny excuses of a coward. Unwilling to fight to the last for the sake of roomy pockets and a handy slot for his shades.
What do you think?