Friday, December 27, 2013

Ask-a-Dude: Holiday Gift Edition!

Hello, everyone! Welcome back to another edition of Ask-a-Dude!

Remember, you can ask your own questions using the submission form on the right!

Today's question is:

Q: I got my boyfriend this really cool dress shirt for Christmas, but we've had three social events since then and he didn't wear it to any of them. Did I get him the wrong thing?

A: Let me ask a few questions, here.

  • Does the shirt have a collar?
  • Would you describe the color as gamboge, vermilion, or bois de rose?
  • Does the logo look like a cute reptile or have a guy riding anything other than a monster truck?
  • Any buttons?

If you answered 'yes' to any of the above, then you most certainly got him the wrong thing. Unless, of course, by "dress shirt" you mean "XBox."

I'm not gonna lie. I'm not actually sure what you mean by "dress shirt." Is it like a long t-shirt? Because that actually sounds kinda cool. If not, then here's a short list of things you could have gotten that he'd get more enjoyment out of than a dress shirt:

  • A loop recording of nails on a chalkboard
  • Free waterboarding session
  • Floss

Look, I'm sure he appreciates the thought. Don't take his unwillingness to wear the shirt as a lack of gratitude. There's something deeper at play, here.

Look at it from his perspective. He just got this really nice piece of clothing from his SO. He's not dumb, he knows he's going to have to show up in the thing at some point.

So his thought process begins like this: 

What is this thing? The material is strange. Soft, yet stiff. Flowy, yet defined. This is some Area 51 shit, right here. Like it was reverse-engineered from an alien spacesuit. That would explain the abundance of material at the neck. See how it's folded over and secured by buttons? That's where the space helmet goes, obvs.

And yet, it's got a headhole and a place to put my arms. Is it a shirt? But why ruin a perfectly good shirt by cutting a slit down the middle? I mean, they even tried to patch it and, when that didn't work, they just gave up and slapped some buttons on the front. And on the cuffs. Plus the ones on the collar. WTH, there are even tiny buttons down by the hem, like a little button garden, or button-herpes.

Then there's all the stitching. Like it was assembled from several different cuts of material. Where have I seen this before?

And this, my friend, is why you don't buy a dress shirt for your boyfriend: he'll assume you're going to eat him.

But there's more to it than that. If you want to understand how a guy looks at clothing, watch him shop for it. This is impossible, of course, because no red-blooded male would ever voluntarily go shopping for clothes with another person. To a dude, clothes shopping is akin to hunting during the Paleolithic, a dangerous, terrifying burden that must be faced alone.

Grab some binoculars and tail him the next time he goes shopping for clothes. You may have to wait a while. Most guys go shopping once a year, the average spree lasting no more than ten minutes (which includes parking, shopping, getting distracted by that weird booth at the mall that sells colorful stuff nobody uses, and lunch at Orange Julius). Slip his mom a $20 and she can tip you off after he makes a casual remark at breakfast that, maybe, the strips of cotton hanging from his shoulders like jungle vines no longer cut it as a t-shirt and, perhaps, it's time for a new one. 
When your shirt looks like this, get a new one
The first thing you'll notice is how self-conscious he is. It's like he thinks everyone in the department store is there to see what he's wearing. Right, like some stay-at-home-dad with three kids to buy school clothes for really cares that you buy your t-shirts three sizes too small because you think they accentuate your "guns."

Chances are, he'll head to a specific spot in the store and then look around in confusion. That's because guys don't shop by taste, look, fashion, or size. They shop by muscle-memory. Like sharks returning to their birthplace to deliver their own pups, men will travel untold miles to the spot where they purchased their most recent piece of clothing. For years, JC Penny had to employ Man-Guides at the locations of long-demolished stores to gently persuade the steady flock of guys who kept trying to buy underwear from the same store that sold them their first pair.

If he's lucky, the store and layout hasn't changed since he was last in, and he'll simply grab twelve of the same thing in one color and head to the nearest register. He knows exactly what he's looking for because, a) it's the same thing he bought on his previous shopping spree three years ago, and, b) he is matching items to an existing wardrobe. If you follow this logic, then the cold horror of what this means has already dawned on you: men buy clothes that match what they already have; what they already have was once a match to something that came before. Ergo, your boyfriend's fashion choices can all be traced back to the original pair of Husky Jeans and Underoos his mother bought for him when he was a kid.

So, he's out of there in under ten minutes, his mascara-streaked face praising God that he got out alive. Here's where you come in. Look, I know you mean well. But think about it. Into this orderly world of jeans, t-shirts, and hoodies, you introduce an outlier, a discordant note in his fashion symphony, a fart in the elevator.

You gave him a very nice dress shirt that he would never buy for himself. I'm doing him a favor, you think to yourself. He doesn't have to suffer the indignities of going to a department store where his struggle to pull together an outfit can go catastrophically viral on YouTube. Why is he so worried?

Now look at it from his perspective. First, he has to figure out where to store it. Does it go into the underwear drawer? That's where he puts his sock, briefs, and t-shirts (so, like, 90% of his wardrobe). Or does it go over the back of his chair with his three pairs of pants (the other 10%)? Well, frak, now he has to buy some fancy new kind of cabinet or remove the mini-fridge, beer empties, and drinking buddies from the closet in his bedroom.

But here's the biggest issue. Even if he could bring himself to evict his drinking buddy from the closet, and forego the additional $300 rent money each month, he still has a matching issue.

The shirt doesn't match anything else. It looks deceivingly blue, but he's got ten other blue things and none of them look like that shirt. What's more, the hem of the shirt looks like it's not meant to see the light of day. That means tucking in, which, in turn, means a belt. And not the hipster airline-inspired nylon belt with quick-release belt he wears, but a proper leather job. 

Leather belts mean matching shoes.
Shoes mean socks.
Socks mean toenail clippers.
Toe nail clippers mean garbage cans.
Garbage cans mean taking out the trash.
Taking out the trash means less time for GTA-V.


See what I mean?

It was a nice gesture, but you don't just give a hobo a Ferrari.

The solution? Not sure. But I will say, you can never go wrong with a multi-tool.

Copil's wardrobe consists of three cornflower blue Capri pants, and some Hawaiian shirts. You can get more fashion advice on Twitter (@Copil).


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