The long, lonely trail to trendiness

The Examiner

This happens every few years. 

There I am, living the quiet comedy and tragedy of my life, when yet another fresh hell arises. Reports indicate I could be perilously close to being in style.

Jeff Fox

Short hair? That’s me since about 1981. But with the pandemic, many men have gone full-on Sasquatch, so I’m in the clear at least for the duration.

Tightly trimmed beard (or the proper journalistic cliche, “closely cropped”)? Also out of style because of the pandemic.

I drive a 17-year-old vehicle that is paid off and dependable, and that’s the beginning and end of its virtues. No worries about trend-setting there.

That pretty much leaves clothes. Until last March, when we still went to offices, met people over coffee and occasionally had to make as decent an impression as one imagined that one could, I wore ties. Yes, a tie. Over a buttoned-down Oxford cloth shirt. I would like to think that’s a quiet, solid look that transcends the whims of fashion.

But let’s not kid ourselves. It’s all lipstick on a pig. The details are unimportant. But the very idea of using a double Windsor knot to tie a costly silk garment around your neck and then setting out for the day is enough to cast one into the outer darkness, where nothing is hip, trendy or noteworthy.

I can live with that.

But the people in the bright, sunny circles where fashion is formed have decided the mountain-climbing look is in. I cannot recall climbing any actual mountains, but outdoor gear is outdoor gear, and I have plenty of that. Now the rough-and-ready look – ready for the office, ready for the trail, ready for a cocktail party – is the thing, reports from the front indicate.

Let me rummage through – sorry, curate – my collection. Well look here. Perhaps this Patagonia jacket I bought to survive when it was 15 and falling is just the thing. I could sling a rappelling rope over my shoulder as an accessory. That’s a conversation starter on your next Zoom. I would need some cool sunglasses. 

I knew we had crossed some weird line when one day I went to a big-box sporting goods store for a rod or reel or a good map and realized that hasn’t been their main business for a long time. Look around. It’s a clothing store, with more flannel.

I think the thing should be about the thing, not getting dressed for the thing. Once again, I’m blessedly out of step.

Jeff Fox is The Examiner’s editor. Reach him at jeff.fox@examiner.net or on Twitter at @FoxEJC.