The universal "they" say that clothes make the man. It is unfortunately sad, but true. Every day I walk by people on the seedy streets on the fringe of Seattle's International District and shake my head in wonder at the uniforms people don to express themselves.
It's not that I am a fashion plate hot (or cold) off the pages of GQ. I'm definitely not. I tend to wear whatever makes me blend in, not stand out. Oh, in my younger days I tried making statements with my clothing and hair styles. I have many embarrassing "what was I thinking" photos to prove it. But middle age has taught me that trying to dress young simply makes you look absurd, not hip.
I imagine I've ranted about middle aged men trying to stay young by dressing the way they did in their 20s before. Although I admit to sporting a pony tail and pierced ears as a young man, I wouldn't be caught dead with either now (which becomes a very real risk as I pass middle age).
I defend my tattoo as art, however. Not that I can do much about it at this point. At least I can cover it up. And it is on my arm if you must know.
What triggered this random train of thought about people's personal uniforms was ironically my commute on the train last Monday (in between the train being cancelled by mud slides). We were just a few minutes out of Seattle when a man came down from the train car's upper level to use the rest room on the main level. He looked as though he had just stepped out of a Marlboro commercial. He had one of those cowboy duster jackets on, a Stetson hat, jeans and big belt buckle with what looked like a steer on it. He also had a handlebar mustache. He looked like someone who was going to rob the train rather than ride it.
It dawned on me that this was this guy's uniform. I doubt whether it occurred to him that there was anything odd about it. And there wouldn't have been anything odd about it if we were riding a commuter train in Montana. It is just that Seattle doesn't have a lot of cows to wrangle.
I would rather see a middle aged cowboy uniform than the gang banger wanna be's that populate the sidewalks outside my building. I will never get used to the stupidity of wearing pants that are ten times too big for you and letting them bunch around your knees to expose boxers. I see these guys shuffling along holding up their pants looking like a bad parady of a Tim Conway comedy sketch (very few of you will get this reference) and wonder what could they possibly be thinking.
The answer is that they aren't thinking. They are simple stuck trying to project something about themselves by donning what they think is a unique uniform. God only knows what kind of delusion they conjure up when they look into the mirror. To me they simply look like pathetic clowns.
In addition to the cowboy on the train there has also been a group of what I believe are art students riding to downtown Seattle. I assume they are art students because they all dress in black and wear what we used to refer to as "hot pants" but with tights (mainly the girls). They all look about 12, but I imagine they are in the 17 or 18 year old range since anyone under 30 looks 12 to me. Other than being either shorter or taller than each other, they all look alike.
The point is that they fancy themselves as looking unique but they are dressed alike. So they are essentially sheep to fashion like everyone else, albeit black-clad sheep.
My advice to people who want to celebrate your uniqueness? Don't try to express your uniqueness through fashion. You don't stand out, you stick out or worse: disappear in a sea of unique wannabee's.
It's okay to march to the beat of a different drummer, just make sure the drummer is playing with both sticks.
I haven't a clue what that means.