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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, February 27, 2006

Fashion just isn't my style

By Michael Tsai
Advertiser Columnist

The clothes I get as presents each birthday and Christmas lead me to believe that my female friends and family members regard me as all too typical of my gender; that is to say, I am unworthy of the privilege of dressing myself.

You'll get no argument here. I humbly concede that my mode of dress falls an Empire State Building short of sartorial splendor. Try sartorial Splenda weak and unsatisfying, with a disturbing aftertaste.

Perhaps the fault lies in the rigid criteria I apply when shopping for clothes. But how? Don't I ask all the right questions?

  • How much does it cost?

  • Does it fit?

  • Will it fit if I suck in my gut?

  • Can I get six of them?

    Granted, the fashion landscape isn't quite so treacherous in warm, casual Hawai'i as it is in colder climes (where more articles of clothing equals more potential bad decisions), but our errors in judgment can be just as damning.

    'Fess up, you knuckleheads. Who used to own a pair of Jams (aka the Buttafuo-culotte)?

    Then there are those who, like the basketball team that chokes away a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter, simply play not to lose.

    Forget daring fashion risks still wearin' that kilt, Axl? Just grab a pair of whatever from the discount table at Old Banana Gap. Better to be nondescript than humiliate yourself with some groping approximation of style no one will ever let you forget.

    Other men reject the notion of dress as anything but utilitarian, thereby reinforcing a revisionist notion of our gender as serious, austere and unconcerned with surface appearance. I'd try that line myself if I could keep from snorting.

    My own fashion missteps began after I started dressing myself in elementary school. I wore that horrendous purple-and-orange hand-me-down shirt to two (two!) class photo days. Thank goodness I left the green high-waters at home.

    Contrary to common assumption, I do not dress in the dark, not literally at least. Rather, I follow the same philosophy for constructing a day's outfit that I do for cooking: Everything goes with everything.

    The results are predictably the same. Even on a good day, my choice of clothes is a lot like last week's chicken a la salmonella (and, for that matter, my freshman year in college) half-baked.

    So actually, it is awfully dark where I dress. Faulty wiring and all, I doubt that little style light bulb will ever go off in my head or anywhere else in the vicinity.

    Reach Michael Tsai at mtsai@honoluluadvertiser.com.