Growing up, I never cared much for how I dressed. I’d walk out the door wearing mismatched clothes unaware of the general principle to wearing clothes. I’m talking walking outside with a brown shirt, bright blue pop pop jeans, & black & red Nike sneakers. Yeah it was pretty bad in my youth.
My father would tell me to go back inside & change into something that was more suitable so I wouldn’t look like a clown. I would constantly complain “Why does matching matter?”. Of course me being in elementary school at the time, the brain had not really developed effectively to understand. My father knew it would only be a matter of time before I realized exactly what he meant by “coordination”.
By the time I reached middle school, fashion started to matter. I was still often dressing how I pleased though looking rather ridiculous. With me being in a school predominately full of black kids, I was clowned many times with people saying I dressed like a “white boy” because I’d have pictures or writing on my shirts that were about video games & cool things like skateboarding (despite not even being a skateboarder) & such. That, & my clothes often came from Forman Mills or other off brand clothing stores, which the kids love to make fun of under the impression that off brand clothing stores are poor & for the poor.
None of the clothes I had were ever of bad quality. It wasn’t like they were ripped, torn, fragile, or anything of that nature.
If you wore name brand clothing, you were deemed “to have money”. Back in my younger days, the clothing brands that were popular were Aeropostale, Hollister, Abercrombie & Fitch. In sixth grade, I went to a school that had a mandatory uniform policy, so everyone looked the same. Though, there were days where they’d allow us to dress casually which gave students the opportunity to show off their name brand clothes to look “fly”.
In seventh grade, I went to a different school that didn’t have a uniform policy. Which meant everyone could dress however they wanted. There was this girl I had a huge crush for. She was beautiful. She had that 80’s beauty. To me at least. Damn near fell in love the moment I saw her. She was quite known amongst my peers. One of my old friends that knew her insisted on getting her to talk to me as he thought we’d be a good matching pair. Others thought otherwise.
I, of course, was the weird looking one having high hopes that I would be able to get her. And those that knew of my crush on her would shun my belief of getting her attention because of how I looked. I didn’t dress like everyone else. I didn’t have the fliest gear on like everyone else.
My friend had told me I needed to “step my swag up” in order to get her. Which meant I had to dress according to the latest fashion.
I would try my hardest to look as “fly” as can be at times that really didn’t call for it. Would try being one-hundred percent color coordinated, picking & choosing which outfits looked “fly”. My problem was, the clothes I wore were too big, too baggy. I’m a slim person. If my shirt sleeves bigger than me arms, I feel more slimmer than I am. My pop would always get me large clothes because of the belief that I’d soon grow into them to save him from buying more clothes just to fit my size. It was a smart thing,
I would come home & tell my pop that I wanted to get clothes from the Hollister store. He, of course, just like any wise father, had to educate me on why I shouldn’t follow what everyone else is doing or worry about what they think of me because of how I looked. If she didn’t like me because of the way I looked, then she was not for me. The clothes on your back do not make up the man thats under them.
At the time, my grades weren’t up to part also. After crying out about how bad I wanted to get clothes from there, we made a deal. If I gave him an improved report card, we’d go to the Hollister store up at the mall & he’d buy me some clothes there. I found myself paying attention to my work more than her during the time period because of that purpose.
I did my part & came home with a much better report card than the one before. He was a man of his word & took me to the Hollister store that same day I received my report card. I was happy inside. I was confident that with me finally dressing like everyone else, that I’d finally get the girl I had been dreaming of since the beginning.
Upon arriving, my father was baffled with the pricing of simple clothing. A single T-shirt would range about $20+. Jeans would cost more than that. We were not a rich family to be able to not care about the prices. But he still was a man of his word though it would put quite a dent on his wallet which furthermore feeds his reason on buying clothes from stores with acceptable pricing. Shopping at Forman Mills, I could have several outfits for a low as $50.
My pop bought me six shirts. Those alone came to about $120 if I recall correctly. I wore each of those six shirts almost every single week since the day I received them. Some of my peers applauded that I finally wore Hollister clothes. Sadly, the girl still did not give me as much attention as I wanted. Even after trying to “step my swag up” just for her. What a fool I was.
Over the years, the words of my father began to run through my head. “Clothes don’t make the man”. And he’s right. They do not. For someone to only like or show interest in you because of your appearance is not a person you should be near. Though, it did make me care more for my appearance than I did before, the fact that I put so much effort into it just to please one person wasn’t the way to go. And thats when I became aware.
Aware of the absurd levels people take in fashion. People shopping at expensive clothing stores just to show they can afford it & to grab the attention of people who like a person with the “luxurious” fashion. In high school, it all hit me in the face like an oncoming dodge ball.
I’d see people come to school with Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Tommy Hilfiger, Versace, etc. In the back of my mind, I’m wondering “How the hell can any of these kids afford that?” I’ve seen the prices. There was just no way someone could really be affording a legitimate Gucci belt. People showing off there high priced clothing as if they’re high class. And quite frankly, a lot of girls would indeed be interested in a man that had those expensive clothes. A way of proving they “got money”.
I was still rocking Hollister clothes as my mother would shop there for me on occasion, & even then I was told I needed to step my dress game up by a few people. H & M, Forever 21, Macy’s, Nordstrom, True Religion, all these stores suddenly popped out of nowhere to me. New competition? Apparently, Hollister was dated. But I was not about to cry for new clothes again. Especially when I was reaching the age where I could start working.
I remember walking into the “True Religion” at the mall, a popular clothing brand for my generation that is a bit too expensive for its own good.
I had got paid from work that same week & had a pretty decent sized check. I was thinking to myself “Hm, maybe I can get at least something from here” thinking they had something to wear thats at least under $100. Boy did I almost have a heart attack when I looked & saw a pair of jeans costing $300+! Jeans! Are they special enhanced jeans that make you walk better? Do they make you smarter, faster? Did a famous person once wear these jeans? What pair of jeans should EVER cost that much? Let alone WHO would even pay for that? It made absolutely no sense to me. Probably the cheapest thing I saw was a hat that still crossed over $100, just about nothing was below that.
Now granted, True Religion was founded over 10 years ago, yet back then, who did you see wearing anything with that little horse shoe? I know I never saw anyone with them. It wasn’t until the modern day rappers of this generation, would boast how much money they have to be out shopping for expensive clothing. And “True Religion” happens to be one of the clothing brands.
You know nowadays some of the youth idolize their favorite rappers to where they’d want to do & be like exactly what they claim themselves to be. So you got people dedicating themselves to buying these expensive clothes to look “fly”. What about those grades in school? Are they as “fresh” as you look? What about your intelligence? Doesn’t seem so fresh if you think clothes make the man. Foolishness….
And don’t even get me started on shoes.
I still find it ridiculous that this generation is so pressed on fashion that they’d blow as much money as they have on things that will not benefit in any good way. The attitude they show is rather revolting to add. They feel like they’re on top of the world because of the brand on their backs & its price.
And for some to feel as thought they need to get those things so they can feel popular & grab the attention of other people also adds insult to injury. I was once like that I admit, but once you realize you don’t need anyone’s approval to live your own life, you’ll find yourself with a lot less stress. If they don’t like you for who you are without all of those things, then that should mean nothing to you.