Don't Be Naked - Guest Post from Nathan Klose
The mantra is Pants And A Shirt, my mom blasting its poetry into my kiddish refusal to exit the bed for breakfast, for the morning already minutes in now, which I am wasting away just lying there. The manta is its own fashion. Any pants will do, any shirt – what else is there? What variance? Pants are two leg-straps of denim. A shirt is a clean-smelling color cloth with a logo. I apply them, I eat in them, I start in them and end in them and, if I am blessed with sleep once again, I sleep in them so that I can be blessed with sleep for 5 minutes longer. The mantra contains everything I need not to be naked, and this must be what mom wants me to know. The mantra must be functional, Samuelsonly economic. It must tit for tat. Then: high school.
What high school does, is what high school does: builds your brand. You are: External Person As Reflection Of Internal Person. How you do this is: clothing.
Let's start again. Mom blasts into my refusal to start the day because I'm too busy 'starting my day.' The bathroom's caked with a few different shirts now, a few pairs of pants, some hairspray. I am maybe that kid with the hair. The hair gently, crisply loops like sharp short scarves that wrap the necks of my pork chop sideburns. I am maybe that kid with the pork chop sideburns. My shirt shreds into a Dead Milkmen logo out of worn-iron-on synthetic, neckhole stretched, purple cardigan slid just on like just a little bit on over the shoulders, you know, just enough to show that cool tension between effort nonchalance. Just enough to show I care enough not to care. And mom, blasting in, says, Stop Fiddling With Your Hair And Get Going. But I am trying to get my telephone cord bracelet on, and she's going to get to wait for me to get going, because I'm not done doing what I am doing. Moms. Am I right?
Then: college kicks in. And I stop caring. But I have a wardrobe by then, so. So, you know. Not caring doesn't have to be done so carefully. I can not care and not care that I can't care. Because look, OK, I still have my sweet Dead Milkmen shirt and purple cardigan, and I already know they match, and I can rest in that. No worries, right?
Stop. Stop here.
Because anything beyond this is the real world, the world that wants to the philosophies of childhood, high school, college fashion to brawl with each other. And that's a problem. Fashion culture is a problem, because it teaches us we must only adhere a progressive understanding of fashion. Let's disengage. Let's pause. Because anything beyond is not actually the real world of fashion.
The real world of fashion contains all three philosophies. This is important.
It's important because most days I wake up, shower, and groom myself for the morning, and that's that. It takes about an hour. I am not ashamed, as a man, that waking, showering, and grooming takes about hour. The why is because I know not simply what to wear or how to groom, but I know how to wear and what to groom. Let me distinguish these, and talk about how they are the blissful marriage of everything I've ever known about fashion. Let me tell why an hour in reasonable, and why fashion shows would have you believe fashion must be expensive and difficult.
Fashion's main operation, if we're to touch a bit of that utilitarian mindset from a few paragraphs up again, is to promote confidence. A well-layered outfit from items I know to compliment or power-clash, draw or deter attention, flow or block – and from items I have owned for many years, or have stood the test of time, otherwise – is so anti-progressive-fashion-culture I could slap a model. To have a closet brim with outfits I know can talk to each other, hang cool with each other, is to have an efficient means of feeling confident. Right there. No qualms. Confidence exists with a longstandingness, with a trust. It's the easiness of sleeping in clothes without sleeping in clothes, as how I present myself is downright proven. What I'm really trying to say is this: I am able to wake without Fashion blasting itself into my morning, because fashion is simply waiting for me in my closet.
My closet lets me trust that fashion is already available, too, because I have already done all the tedious match-work. So: zero guesswork. I don't have to waste time. Experimentation's run its course, and I don't have to fiddle with my bracelet because Dear Lord I know which watch I like with this shirt-pant combo already.
I do like to fiddle with my musky soaps, beard oils, pomade, though. But that's the beauty of an easier experimentation, one that doesn't interfere. Not every day do I get my hair the way I want, and sometimes I leave it pomade-less and that's A-OK and I'll be A-OK with it for the day's span and feel good. I can buy beard oils and conditioners and give them each a reasonable try. I can switch soaps out to smell-preference because who gives a crap because I already feel confident in the process. I have exited into the real world. My brand is settled, foundational. The real world is what my mom had been blasting into me all that time, and progressive fashion culture can shove off. Mom knew what she was doing.
The real world is an understanding that, if you wear something well, it is because you have the confidence to let it wear you. You feel confident not because you are perfect in your outfit, per se, but because your outfit feels perfectly confident due to the elbow grease, time, experimentation, acceptance, and a general desire not to be naked you put into it. Mom knew what she was doing. And, eventually, I was shaken from my any-moment singular idea of fashion so that I could clothe myself into one more flowing, more open and together and trusted. One that didn't request too much keeping up, altering, anxiety. One that, even now, just requests I trust the self my mom had wanted me to be all along.
Which is, in its essence, not being naked.
Nathan Klose is a writer and graphic artist in Augusta, GA. He doesn't have to pick outfits out, as they often do well to pick him. Follow him on Twitter as @chirospasm.