By Tim Mollen
Journal entry: September 15, 2005 (age 36)
This past spring, on a shoe-shopping trip with my in-laws, a pair of black sneakers caught my eye. I realized that every pair of white sneakers I had ever bought had been ruined by rain, mud, and Gulden’s mustard within a few weeks. I figured the black sneakers would look better longer.
Through the rest of the spring, I felt pretty cool in my black sneaks. They looked especially good with jeans and a black shirt, I thought. Then the summer temperatures arrived, inviting my shorts out of the dresser. I began to dress as I always had at this time of year: shorts, a T-shirt, white tube socks, and sneakers. The only difference was that my sneakers were now black, instead of white.
Apparently, I had broken some sacred rule of modern fashion. Several people have mocked my white socks and black sneakers. And those are my friends. I can only imagine the whispered vitriol of the people who see me at the Giant grocery store.
I have repeatedly asked what is the correct protocol for accessorizing black sneakers and shorts, but have not received convincing or consistent answers. “No socks,” said some. My lack of fondness for blisters and sneaker odor caused me to reject that notion out of foot. “Peds – you know, little tennis socks,” said others. But that brought to mind female tennis players. Anna Kournikova can easily become what psychiatrists call “an intrusive thought,” so my search continued. “Black socks,” said still others. But wouldn’t that just make the contrast with my ghostly white chicken legs worse?
So here’s the solution I’ve come up with. I have decided to no longer care. I am going to wear what I like to wear. If people on the street think I dressed in the dark, so be it. I should have given up long ago, when people stopped wearing baseball caps frontward, or when it became “sexy” to wear your pants low enough for a hernia exam.
I call my new look “embracing the inner old guy.” It says to the world, “I don’t need to retire before I decide that keeping up with trendy fashion is for the birds.” This fresh worldview has opened startling new vistas in my life. Now I feel free to use outdated phrases, like saying that something is “for the birds.”
And I’ve started noticing that older folks dress just fine. At a wedding recently, my Uncle Bob Langevin, who is in his 80s, was the sharpest dressed guy in the room. He stuck with a classic, impeccably tailored suit because it fit his own sense of style, not because Carson Daly had worn it at the Video Music Awards.
So I will now wear a fedora, a silk shirt with the Fat Albert gang on it, and a beat-up Navy pea coat with pride. In fact, maybe I’ll wear them together!
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