I plead guilty. Although I’ve surely exceeded my limit on citations by the fashion police, I must plead guilty again. Yes, that was me wearing those clashing stripes and checks. Or whatever.
Fashion is one of those social graces that has somehow eluded me. Blame it on my gender, friends, upbringing or social standing, but I’m rarely described as “nattily attired.” One of the troubling facts about fashion is that it’s so obvious in the photos that often represent us in our family histories. What will my great grandchildren think of me, knowing me as they will only by the record I leave behind?
I’ve always taken a rather independent view of style. I’ve never agonized about lapel or tie width, although I must admit to a preference for bold stripe ties as opposed to, let’s say, floral patterns. I tried to stay on the cusp of fashion through much of the 1970s, though, prancing around in blue- and red-checked, bell-bottom slacks, for example. My downfall was that I hated to throw away a perfectly decent pair of pants even though they were past their fashion expiration date.
The way I figured it, I was in a win-win situation, no matter what I wore. If everyone else was wearing the same style, then I was totally hip and cool. If I was the odd man out, that was cool, too. I was then cutting edge, ahead of the rest of the pack, though some would argue it was just the opposite.
Fortunately, most of my sportswriting brethren had much the same attitude and I was right at home in my working hours. It was only when I got home that my wife reminded me that I dressed like fashionally challenged Norman Buntz, played by actor Dennis Franz in the short-lived television series, Beverly Hills Buntz.
My own sartorial shortcomings aside, when I picture many of my ancestors, I tend to visualize them in a specific outfit. I always see my carpenter grandfather in a long-sleeved plaid shirt, sleeves unbuttoned and rolled up around his elbows with a pencil stuck behind his ear. I always see my other grandfather sitting in a black leather chair, neatly pressed slacks and a white shirt, smoking his pipe.
How do you picture your ancestors?