A sartorial problem

Recently I’ve noticed that my wardrobe is homogenising, and there’s a very definite blue theme emerging. I wear a blue t-shirt almost every day, probably for a combination of the following reasons:

1. I have lots of them, so there’s always a clean one in the wardrobe
2. It’s a safe choice – I know that blue t-shirts work on me
3. It’s an easy choice – I don’t have to consider aesthetics, because if I bung on a blue t-shirt, it will go with pretty much anything.

It’s fine for the practicalities of day-to-day living, but due to lack of practise I seem to have lost the ability to judge whether a randomly generated outfit looks good or not – in short, I haven’t got style.

It’s anecdote time. Cue wibbly lines.


About three-and-a-half years ago, before Karen and I moved in together, there was a clothes shop in the town where I lived at the time. It was one of those places with delusions of trendiness, and everything was overpriced. My mother bought me a shirt from there, as a gift, and it was truly hideous. Of course, I pretended to like it, but she saw right through me.

“Be honest, Pete. ” she said. “If you don’t like it, I won’t be offended.”

“Well, seeing as you’ve clearly already figured it out, there’s no point trying to hide it from you. It’s just not the kind of thing that I’d wear.”

My mother went silent. My suspicion was that she was offended.

The shirt was returned to the shop, and swapped for a very nice black long-sleeved t-shirt, which was basically the only other thing in the shop for a similar price that I could see myself wearing.

Every Christmas and birthday since then, my mother has bought me a pale blue t-shirt, usually from Debenhams. Sometimes short-sleeved, sometimes long-sleeved, sometimes plain, sometimes with a relatively low-key motif on them. But invariably pale blue and unthreatening. The complete opposite of the grotesque brown thing that she bought me back on that fateful day. I wonder whether this is a concerted effort on her part to drown me in pale blue t-shirts and make me rue the day that I refused her (well-intentioned, but really quite revolting) gift, or just to avoid making the same mistake in the future.

I don’t buy myself clothes very often, so these mum-shirts make up a significant percentage of my t-shirt collection. When I’m getting dressed in the morning, there’s a big pile of mum-shirts staring up at me, and it’s just too easy to pick one up and put it on.

Anecdote ends. You don’t get a horizontal line this time though, because that is my whim.

My plan is to be more observant of what other people (specifically, men) are wearing. Look for ideas. Start taking an interest in clothing again. Try something new, and learn how to make myself look good again. Break out of my blue shirt funk.

Dang, now I want to go back and rename this post to “Blue shirt funk”. But I shouldn’t, because that would be like starting a joke with the punchline, or making a trailer for a movie that shows all the best bits, causing the movie itself to be disappointing when you eventually see it. What about you, reader? If you have a weblog, do you title [vb.] your posts before or after you write the content? ((n.b. you are not allowed to write “yes” here, because that is MY JOKE))

*On a completely unrelated note, a little voice in my head told me to carry a camera with me today. And what would you know, I came across a stag beetle while I was dropping Bernard off with his childminder. Awesome stag beetle picture coming up this evening.*

8 replies on “A sartorial problem”

I think it would be perfectly acceptable to rename the post “blue shirt funk.” I do that kind of thing all the time. Hell, if I manage to come up with a clever title, it doesn’t matter at which stage in the post-writing it occurs. Even several days afterwards, sometimes.

Also I just want to correct one point on your timeline: we were going out at the time. In fact it happened just before we moved in together, because we had to make the effort to go back to your old town to go to the shop and change it. And come on, the shirt was hideous; you were in the right.

“My plan is to be more observant of what other people (specifically, men) are wearing”

I forsee a few punches in the face and accusations of being a poofter in your future….

Stag beetles are so last week

I try dress with style. I’d love to have style. I think the best I can muster is I have a style

I do like funky shirts though. I seem to have found that O’Neils, Oackley and Quicksilver have a lot of shirts I like. This has nothing to do with me taking up snowboarding but oddly did occur at the same time.

I suggest find a few brands you like and get some shirts you think are nice from there. Whilst some clothes might look good on someone else they might not look good on you. Or visa versa.

At the end of the day being comfortable (and I mean mentally) with what you are wearing is more important than anything else. Although trying to push the boundary of that comfort zone, occasionally is good too.

Adrian: I think it’s comfort that got me into this mess. Not that it’s a mess particularly, just… well… a funk.

E: Threadless is cool, but I can’t be bothered with all that international transit. Split The Atom might be more useful to me. And, of course, I might have to splurge a few quid on a couple of Dr Pockless’ designs.

Yes, allocating £50 of this year’s bonus to a t-shirt refresh is seeming like a good idea.

I’m afraid I have no advice on your clothing choices (mens’ fashion? even more mysterious to me than women’s fashion); I just wanted to mention that it amused my geeky soul to see the phrase “randomly generated outfit” at the top there.

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