Few things are quite as disheartening as staring at the eviscerated shell of a man, dressed in a dull and uninspired outfit that he is obviously uncomfortable in, which was clearly purchased and chosen by his girlfriend/wife. You look at the guy and wonder where he went. Sometimes you’ll hear statements like, “She’s good for me – she keeps me in line.” You knew these guys before and thought that maybe their taste was questionable. You certainly would have stepped in if they were thinking about wearing a mullet wig to a black tie wedding, but breaking out the Hawaiian shirt for a Friday night at the bar – well there’s nothing really wrong about that, is there (don’t you complain enough about people not looking at YOUR face? you don't HAVE to look at the shirt)? Style is part of self-expression. So, isn’t that a bit of the charm? Gentlemen, if your lady is telling you she won’t be seen with you in public in your favorite clothes, there’s a pretty good chance she’s shallow. Do yourself a favor and cut her loose before she cuts off your manhood.
I went to thrift store shop at the Salvation Army this past weekend and was pretty delighted by the selection of menswear. They had a fair amount of really nice button down shirts for under $10. I was also impressed by the condition of the apparel. I must say, not all thrift stores are so nice. Some people take to thrift stores what they should take to the trashcan. So let’s just set out a few guidelines for the “No way in hell are you to bring this home… not even if it’s only $3”s.
1. It has holes in it. Unless you are buying it for the specific purpose of using it to do manual labor in, holes are not okay.
2. It is stained. If it were possible to get the stain out, the garment wouldn’t be at the thrift store. The original owner would have gotten the stain out and kept it.
3. It reeks like a chimney. Some smells you can get out of clothes. Some clothes smell so badly that the only way you will be able to fix it is by burning them.
|Safe, but clean-cut.|
That’s only THREE limitations. Not so bad, right? Whatever you buy, I would recommend washing it with borax and apple cider vinegar, unless it's dry clean only (but in two separate washes please). Borax will get things extra clean (use both of these in addition to detergent). The apple cider vinegar will neutralize any strange smells.
So, like I said, lots of nice button down shirts to be had. I found the Hugo Boss shirt above for $5.99, great for the guy who’s not afraid to wear purple. I also happened upon plenty of striped shirts. This bluish one matched easily with this grey cashmere sweater, giving a nice casual pairing for under $10. Easy formula: Vertically striped button down shirt + pattern free neutral colored sweater = difficult to mess up, wear anywhere combination. Just make sure you’re buying clothes that fit.
The real draw, for me, to the thrift store shopping is the stuff you can find that would make the shallow girlfriends run screaming. The shirts that are so ugly they are amazing. I felt I would be doing a disservice if I didn’t focus on some of these. There IS a difference between “so ugly it’s amazing” and just plain old ugly. I would lump these three shirts into the plain old ugly category.
From right to left, we have velveteen primary color horizontal stripes – I don’t know why to tell you it’s awful, but it just is. That grey shirt in the middle is a chamois cloth sort of deal with a floral burnout. It's very Miami Vice Canadian Vacation. The far left looks like a bowling shirt. Now I realize that a bowling shirt could possibly be associated with The Big Lebowski. I have heard from some that that movie is the ultimate dude movie. My advice to you is that if you didn’t dress like The Dude before you watched the movie, you shouldn’t dress like him after. Remember, someone pissed on his rug. Do you want people pissing on your rugs?
|My kind of ugly.|
My treasured find was this corduroy shirt covered in playing cards that I thought was the bees’ knees. It’s hideous and super soft. The consistency of the pattern all over the shirt is what makes it workable, that and the minimal use of color. You might overwhelm people if you were to wear the shirt by itself, so your goal in styling this would be to tone it down. The best way to do that is to pull one of the colors from the pattern and match it in an outer layer – a sweater or a jacket. I was lucky enough to find a corduroy blazer in a color pretty close to the spots on the playing cards. It helps that all the colors here are neutral also. The only thing that’s really shouting at you is the pattern on that shirt. Both things for only $11!
|Pink and Gold pinstripe... eh|
Pulling colors out of prints can get away from you and go a little out of control. The pinstripes in this jacket are the same shades of pink and gold as in the shirt, but mixed together it makes your eyes want to throw up a little bit. It’s just too much pattern. Maybe someone could pull it off. It’s not the WORST thing I’ve ever seen, but you’d probably be better off mixing a bright and bold shirt like this with a very plain sweater as so. I support acquiring clothes that you really like. If they're on the crazier side, just make sure you're also getting tamer things to pair them with.
You don’t have to dress like a robot to look good. Believing you can pull something off can go a long way. I remember having some women return things while I was working at Anthropologie, their reason being “My husband didn’t like it.” I never really got over that one… Is your husband going to wear it? No. So, who cares if he likes it? It goes both ways. Your girlfriend is free to tell you what she thinks of what you are wearing. And you, my friends, are free to tell her to shove it.