There was a time when I dressed very differently. I know that’s true of most people because it’s inevitable that we’ll go through phases as the years pass, but, I mean, I looked way different. I’m positive I wouldn’t recognize me if I went back in time.
It started in eighth grade (more of my stories begin like that than I would like). I was very much into punk rock and skateboarding. At the time, there were certain expectations that went along with those two pursuits.
And I followed them to a tee.
I spiked my hair with the quickly hardening gel that was oh, so prevalent in the ’90s and early ’00s. I wore a bulky chain ball necklace. I mostly wore t-shirts that were at least one size too big for me. My over-sized, upper-body wardrobe was composed of band, skateboard and hand-me-down t-shirts.
To complete the illusion that I was absolutely swimming in my clothes, I wore baggy jeans and cargo pants that dragged on the ground and sagged at the waist. I finished my look with skate shoes that perpetually looked as if they lost a fight with a lawnmower.
A paragon of fashion I was not.
Gradually, I faded away from some of those things as I progressed through high school. I stopped spiking my hair because, truthfully, I was lazy. I didn’t want to spend two extra minutes to do it.
You might say, “Good, you stopped yourself from being mistaken for a Hot Topic employee.” Well, not so fast. I stopped spiking my hair, which is to say I stopped doing anything with my hair. I would dry my hair with a towel then kind of sweep it up and to the side, tangles and all.
That’s not even the worst of it.
Twice, once as a sophomore in high school and once as a freshman in college, I grew my hair out. In retrospect, they were ill advised endeavors (again, more of my stories begin like that than I would like).
It wasn’t like I got my hair cut to grow out long. There were no maintenance cuts or layers; I just stopped cutting my hair and went with it.
Guess how that turned out?
Admittedly, I thought it was cool that my mane stuck out of my football helmet, but that really was the only positive.
After the first awful experiment, I’m certain the only reason I let my hair grow out the second time is because I was away from home. Finally, I didn’t have to listen to my parents constantly saying, “Get a haircut!” But anyone who’s survived the first year of college will tell you that “just because I can” is not a very good reason to do anything.
Unfortunately, I forgot that my hair gets quite greasy if I go too long without showering. It’s all well and good if I have shorter hair; it actually keeps it under control. However, when I didn’t shower with the mop top, I just looked like a homeless member of the Beatles.
One day, I was fed up with the wind constantly blowing hair in my face and thought screw this. I went to the campus barber shop and had it all cut off. Since then, I’ve learned my lesson.
Little by little, I also stopped skating and subsequently rotated out a lot of my skateboarding t-shirts. I replaced them with more band t-shirts, plain t-shirts and poorly-fitted polos. I also somehow managed to accumulate a few nice button ups, you know, to keep it classy. But I held on to the baggy jeans (literally and figuratively).
It made for an odd conglomeration of ill-fitting, mismatched styles.
I attribute my assent out of that unfashionable abyss to two things: my major and a part-time job.
At Mizzou, I majored in Magazine Journalism. As I got further into my education, I started reading heaps of magazines. Two of those magazines happened to be Esquire and GQ.I started reading them for the features but gradually picked up some style tips along the way.
I also worked at an Old Navy the summer before my junior year of college. Thanks to a handy employee discount, I was able to buy moderately-fashionable, reasonably-priced clothes for next to nothing.
At the start of that school year, I reconciled a few things in my mind.
I realized that: I wear a small (in most instances), I could still like punk rock and wear nice shirts, I had to stop wearing baggy jeans because they make me look even shorter and I could marginally improve my chances with the opposite sex by dressing better.
After my little sartorial epiphany, I made some sorely needed changes. I started wearing more form-fitting clothes, which anyone with style will tell you, is half the battle. I finally traded the baggy jeans for slimmer, straight-fit jeans and cords, and I haven’t touched a pair of cargo pants in years.
I haven’t tossed my band t-shirts (I’m not a sellout), but I have added western shirts, gingham button ups, cardigans, henleys and v-neck sweaters—items I would have never worn previously. I added desert boots and boat shoes to my lonely white and grey sneakers. I also invested in a nice leather wrist watch, which I plan on keeping for years and years.
Oh, and if you’ve seen the last two posts, you obviously can see that I started doing something with my hair.
I opted for side part with a coif in front for two reasons. One, any dude with a full head of straight hair looks good with this haircut. Two, not many guys my age are rocking this ‘do, so I stand out from the crowd.
Also, Ron Swanson.