I wrote a blog the other day about the GQ style police not thinking that men wearing leather pants was such a good idea, and reflected on my opinion of their homophobic and witless commentary.
A friend, Kevin, posted a reply and later that day, said this to me in an email:
It caused me to think about how much our personal images are tied into what we decide to wear. I believe that very few of us actually dress to please ourselves. We mostly seem to dress to either fit in or to represent the role we choose to play. I read an interview with RuPaul recently in which he viewed our clothing as a form of drag. As he put it, whether it’s a dress or suit, we’re all playing a role. The difficulty comes when we start to believe that role truly represents what’s inside. I hope most people come to the realization that at the end of the day, sometimes a banana is just a banana.
Kevin is right. I look around my office and see the kid in the cube down the hall wearing a suit every day. Not because he has important meetings, but because he is playing a role of trying to wear what the boss wears as he has clear aspirations in wanting to be promoted. I see all the glum-faced attorneys riding the Metro with me into and out of the city. In my off-time, I see the happy family guy in my cousin as he plays with his kids while wearing a comfy sweatshirt and jeans. I see the bad-ass bikers in my motorcycle riding club wearing their beat-up jackets, club-colors vests, boots, and chaps.
We all wear costumes of some sort. Some of us are more comfortable or accepting of certain costumes that society suggests such as suits in an office and khakis & polo shirts with sneakers when off the clock.
Some of us are not. I have already stated that in my opinion, I do not like suits & ties. That’s me. That’s not everybody. My twin brother was born in a tie, but I still love the big lug. I seem to have been born jumping into mud puddles wearing boots and jeans. I am equally comfortable in a pair of Wranglers and cowboy boots as I am in a pair of leather jeans and engineer boots. It is a matter of personal taste.
What I wear to the office conforms with the norms there. What I wear on my own time conforms with ME. Not with anyone else. Yes, I play various roles — community helper, loving nephew, roughhousing uncle, repair-guy, biker-dude, civic leader, friend, brother, partner…. Do I change what I wear based on the role I will play? Well, usually not. I mean if I have to conform to a written or unwritten dress code, such as no all-leather outfits at a funeral, I’ll do that. But I don’t fret if the animal on my shirt is from a real cow from which the shirt is made, rather than some alligator or lizard or polo player. I’m just not that kind of guy.
Life is short: be your own person. It’s much more comfortable that way!