So, maybe you hear about this crazy GQ article in which my fellow Philadelphian Buzz Bissinger (author of Friday Night Lights ) talks about how he spent more than half a million dollars on fancy leather clothes, most of which are from Gucci. Now he is in rehab for his shopping addiction. That is good news, because he clearly had an addiction that was, like many addictions, probably symptomatic of a sense of deep personal unhappiness, and deep personal unhappiness is bad for everyone, even when you can afford to throw a half a million dollars of leather pants at it.
The article is about three parts, and two of them I am not going to get into. The first is that it’s an addiction, yes, and addictions are bad, and it’s good that dude is in rehab. The other is when he talks about he got into S&M and gay orgies, and that is his business, I am not even interested in that.
The third part that’s pretty important is that half a million dollars of Gucci leather makes you look fucking ridiculous.
People give Buzz Bissinger shit because he spent all this money to look like Old Bon Jovi, or David Bowie if he was chubby and balding. “Hahahah,” said everyone, “let’s laugh at the old guy wearing leather pants.” And in their defense, he definitely looks exactly like every caricature of middle-aged men in midlife crises trying to recapture a fantasy of their imagined youth rolled up into one and sheathed in brass-studded cowhide.
But there’s an important element of Buzz Bissinger’s defense that I think is important, and that is this: ALL fashion is completely ridiculous. Guys. GUYS. Fashion is SILLY. It is not natural, it is not important; there was a time — like in Roman days, or something — when fashion maybe had some rules (“oh, you’re wearing purple? You must be an emperor!”) but nowadays, we don’t even have THAT anymore, so what is it? What is the point of clothes? They’re just a bunch of nonsense rules that we made up to entertain ourselves. That’s it! The whole thing!
There is nothing that we think is true about fashion — that men don’t wear skirts, or that sneakers aren’t professional, or that neckties are even a thing — that isn’t a fucking nonsense rule. Why do you wear a suit if you work in a bank? Suits don’t make you GOOD AT BANKING, they’re just indicative of what we think bankers are supposed to look like, and who gives a shit about that?
Bissinger talks about what the clothes do for him, about how they make him feel sexy and powerful, about how they project the image of himself that he wants to be, and you know what? That is actually the only important question about clothes. Do they make you feel awesome? Congratulations! THOSE ARE THE RIGHT CLOTHES.
The only people who are going to get on you and say DON’T wear clothes like that are cowards. I mean that most sincerely, I think that all this kind of criticism (“Oh, you look so silly, mleh mleh mleh”) is rooted in the kind of resentment that just WISHES it had the stones to leave the house looking like Mick Jagger’s grand-dad. Regular fashion — ESPECIALLY regular men’s fashion — is 99% about dressing in a particular way because you’re afraid people will make fun of you, and when you spend your life dressing like an asshole because you’re scared the other assholes are going to call you names, you get super-pissed off when someone dares to dress how he feels like.
You know what’s boring? A dude whose fashion inspiration is James Bond, or Jon Hamm in Mad Men, or Cary Grant. You know what’s awesome? A dude whose fashion inspiration is fucking SPACE WIZARD. A dude who wakes up in the morning and says, “Today, I am going to dress like a post-apocalyptic cowboy viking.” Somebody who buys clothes with the belief that Ziggy Stardust wasn’t glam ENOUGH.
I think we should make it a rule that when you turn 55, you don’t have to follow any clothes rules anymore. Thirty years following the rules of “fashion”, you’ve paid your dues, wear whatever you want. Go to work dressed like Ming the motherfucking Merciless.
Does it make you feel awesome? GO, DO IT!
But really, I think in the end we’re all going to be happier when we realize that fashion doesn’t have a god-damn thing to do with trends or fitting in or any of that bullshit, and it has everything to do with deciding what’s rad and wearing it wherever the hell you want. Just motherfuckers in opera capes and leather tuxedos, some dude is wearing robes like a timelord, someone else is rocking Mad Mex style assless chaps (I am aware that all chaps are assless) — THAT IS THE WORLD THAT IS TRULY HAPPY.