By John Kereiff.

In my ‘day job’ as a fast food cashier I do lots of people watching, casually observing folks as they place their orders, wait for their food and take it to their tables or leave the restaurant. I see how they behave, and I notice what they’re wearing too.

At 61 I’m the last guy you should take fashion advice from. I come from a generation where the wider the flare on your pants, the cooler you were. Paisley shirts were worn in public, and not ironically. I did attempt to be ‘with it’ for a while in 80’s, even wearing white pants for a time, but for the last 50-odd years I’ve been a jeans and t-shirt guy. That said, I’ve seen things that are aesthetically troubling. Oh, where to begin?

Painted on eyebrows are a big thing, but they’re frightening. Some are done well, most not. When such things were the norm in Joan Crawford’s day they looked bizarre, and time has not changed that. Pluck or color your eyebrows if you must to accentuate your peepers, but please- you’re not Michael Jackson.

During the warm months, thanks to a nearby high school, I saw something that made Crocs look sexy… teenagers wearing socks and sandals, and not just a few. They were so plentiful that people walking around barefoot in sandals were the minority. Never noticed this before I hope it doesn’t happen again. It’s just… wrong.

Hats? They prevent the noon-day sun from baking your noodle, but for God’s sake wear them properly. Wearing a ball cap backwards after the age of 12 looks douchey. A recent development? No. We did it in the 70’s but stopped because looked stupid. You youngsters have also taken to wearing hats with the peak flattened and the sticker still on it, and at an off kilter angle. A bad-ass hip-hop kind of thing? Looks kind of ‘Jethro’ to me- a reference no one under 50 will likely get.

Pants. Ripped jeans are baffling. In my day (said the old man) wearing stone-washed jeans was edgy, but now people pay good money for pre-destroyed jeans. Sometimes it’s a couple of rips trying to look like natural wear, but last week I saw a teenaged girl with so many tears there was as much exposed leg as denim. To me this look says “I’m living life so hard!” Uh, no, not buying it. I had torn jeans as a teen too, but it was because I was playing so much road hockey that they wore out.

Wearing them at the knees? It looks like you shit yourself and it’s catastrophically dumb.

My point here is that society is obsessed with image over substance. The irony is not lost on me that my parents’ generation must have looked at my friends and I in our flares, Adidas sneakers, platform shoes, clogs and the like with equal distain. We were subject to peer pressure too, wearing what everyone else was into to fit in. It’s a tribal mentality and it’s as natural as breathing; we all want to belong, but isn’t conformity the death of true style? In the examples noted above, it seems to me that there is a herd mentality at work- I’m going to wear this or behave like that because everyone else is doing it and I’m desperate to fit in. That’s society for you.

Though I am genuinely puzzled by many of today’s fashion choices- the eyebrows, socks & sandals, backwards or flat-billed hats, deliberately ripped jeans- don’t let what I think stop you because that doesn’t matter. Do and wear these things because you want to, because it feels good to you and the image in the mirror makes you smile, not because of what other people think you should do, wear or say. I wear jeans and t-shirts to this day because it’s what I like and what I find most comfortable. Hey- I wear a uniform all day.

Fight the status quo, dare to be a rebel and go your own way. Create your own look and dress the way that looks and feels good to you. Listen to the music that makes your blood race and your imagination soar. Watch the movies and TV shows that touch you and fire your imagination. Dare to say ‘fuck the status quo’- be yourself.

Now get off my lawn.


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