A Dedicated Follower of Fashion

I have resolved to get the full benefit of the WordPress blogging experience. This means that every now and then, I will step out of my comfort zone and try a new type of post. So far, I have done a deep and meaningful poetry post (People wept. Marriages were saved. Complicated teenagers selected the choicest lines to write in their journals.), and a rather technical photography post (this one was more for the experts than the common people, but I have noticed a subtle improvement in the quality of the pictures on WordPress since then. Coincidence? You decide).

Now it’s time to try something new. A fashion post. I have noticed that there is an entire subculture out there in WordPress-land who love to tell the world what sort of pants they are wearing. I feel left out. None of you have ever known what sort of pants I’ve been wearing. Mercifully, that is about to change.

Those who know me may be a little curious that I should embark on such an enterprise, but the truth is that I am eminently qualified. I, you see, came of age in the 80’s. Most of the people I see blogging about fashion are far too young to remember the 80’s. This is a good thing. Sure, they can pick up some old magazines and have a bit of a smile, even throw in the odd 80’s reference to their own style.

But they weren’t there. They don’t know what it was like. All those people who look so funny in those old magazines were models. The best looking people of the age. You can’t even begin to imagine what us ordinary people looked like. But you’re going to have to. We’ve hidden all the photographs. It was war. It was hell. It was the apocalypse, but we were all too blinded by our own clothes to see it.

Like any war, the 80’s fashion war had its casualties. Before I start on my own fashion journey, I’d like to acknowledge our fallen. The world looks the way it does today due, in no small part, to their sacrifices. There was Matthew Sims, inventor of what later came to be known as Hammer pants. He made the ultimate sacrifice when the voluminous crotch of his trousers became entangled in the chain of his BMX just as a truck came over a blind rise.

A stylish and practical choice for the discerning adult diaper wearer.

There was Betty-Sue Hollander, who succumbed to third degree burns when she tried to blow out the candles of her 18th birthday cake immediately after using seven cans of hairspray.

Hair styled by Loreal. Hair parted by Moses.

There was the fondly remembered Ellen Bathurst, inventor of the fitness tape, who died in a freak accident when a jealous zebra kicked her into a swimming pool, where she succumbed to the weight of her patented Velcro wrist weights.

There was Mike Sims, who tragically took his own life after blinding seventeen underprivileged schoolchildren on their first trip to the beach with his mirror sunglasses.

There were others, too. The list is too long and too important for a mere blog. Thank you guys. You will never be forgotten.

It was not just the fallen who suffered. An entire generation has had their lives blighted by the collective madness of that decade. We hide it now, sneaking quick peeks at hidden albums while our children sleep. But we must bear our pain in silence. How could you ever explain something like this to those who were not there.

Back up, people! If she unleashes those jazz hands, somebody’s gonna get hurt!

It was not our fault. It was the Russians. They were putting something in our water. We’ve never worked out what it was. But it was pretty bloody strong. Strong enough that none of us ever questioned that these guys were straight.

Where the ladies at? I need to borrow some mascara.

Yes. I came through that. I am older now. And wiser. And ready to dazzle you with my sartorial splendour. I didn’t want to rush into things bald-headed, so I decided to discuss my plans with my wife. It didn’t go well.

When I told her I was doing a fashion blog, she made a strange gurgling sound, and some coffee shot out of her nose. I think she might be coming down with something. It’s no great loss though. She’s a snappy little dresser, but everyone who knows us knows that when it comes to fashion, I wear the pants round here (did you see what I did there?).  I decided to soldier on alone.

To celebrate the coming of summer, I planned to greet the day dressed in a pair of brogues, crushed linen pants, and a worsted cagoule. I got as far as my cupboard before realising that I didn’t know what any of those things were. I decided to risk asking my wife again. Mistake. She pulled a blanket over her head and wept. At least I think she was weeping- the blanket was shaking and she let out a weird shrieking noise. She really isn’t very well at all. It looks like my fashion day might be interrupted by a visit to the doctor. Oh well! I’m just going to have to be methodical and work with what I’ve got.

Let’s start with the shoes. Any good outfit needs a strong foundation. I have some shoes. At least five pairs of them are wearable. (Three if you listen to my wife- She keeps hiding my crocs and claims that my hiking boots give her allergies. I think it’s just jealousy.) I decided to go casual. I pulled out my stylish white canvas plimsolls. They’re a timeless classic- casual enough for the boardwalk, but stylish enough to grace the deck of a private yacht. They were a little too clean when I got them, but ever since I reversed over them on the way to school one morning, they have looked comfortably worn in. There’s a slight problem though. I’m sure that they’re supposed to look like this.


They don’t. They look like this.

An assault on the dignity of the decadent West.

The vengeful little bugger who put them together in China obviously decided to act out his resentment of the west but supplying each shoe with two and a half metres of shoelace. I could cut them, I suppose, but then I would lose the aglets (it’s a fashion term- Google it). Even when laced up, they’re a law suit waiting to happen.

The rabbit hops out of the hole, then goes round the tree. And another tree. And some more trees….

Don’t worry- as a fashion pioneer, I’ve invented my own special knot to gather in the extra metre or so.

I learned this knot while failing to master the yoyo.

Fashion is all about detail. I decided to wear socks. At first I thought I would stick with the private yacht theme, and wear my “secret” socks, cunningly designed to give the illusion of sockless European sophistication. They are, however, so secret that I have only been able to find them once in the last two years. I think that the lady who does our ironing thinks they are some form of women’s’ underwear. My wife is still behaving a little strangely, and if she catches me going through her smalls, I’m not sure how she’ll react. Especially if I say I’m looking for secret socks. A quality, elasticated pair of tube socks will have to do. These are, however, no ordinary tube socks. They have apparently been designed with some sort of special “memory technology fabric” that has stretched out over the years, allowing the ankles to “breath”. Sorted!

In winter I wrap duct tape around them to keep out chilly breezes.

On to the pants. I didn’t even need to check with my other half to know that pants were a must. When you’ve been dressing yourself for years, some things become instinctive. I thought that this was one of those “unwritten rules” of fashion that only us insiders know, but the one time that I broke it (we had a new baby and I hadn’t slept for days) a rather mean-spirited policeman told me that it was actually a written rule. When I tried to explain that I was being “fashion forward”, he shouted something about indecent exposure and threatened to Tase me. We live and learn.

Choosing pants isn’t as easy as it sounds. I’ve never actually bought any, but I have hundreds of pairs of pants. People keep giving them to me. I try not to read anything into it. Maybe they’re just trying to keep me out of trouble with the police. It’s nice to know they care.

I decided to follow a process of elimination. The first step was easy. No cargo pants. My cargo pants have nineteen pockets. They even have smaller pockets on top of the larger ones. I like wearing them. Nineteen is a good number of pockets. I’ve stopped wearing them outside the house, though, because, as luck would have it, the same bloody policemen pulled me over the other day, and refused to see the funny side when it took me twenty five minutes to find my driver’s license.

Three of these pockets have smaller pockets inside them. Another is home to a small family of badgers.

Next, chinos. An easy decision. These are just silly pants. They sound like the sort of thing you should wear while leaning against a wall in downtown LA, chewing a toothpick and calling people “Essay”. They look like you should wear them to the green maintenance committee meeting down at the country club. Chinos are the wearable equivalent of a mullet. Eliminated!

Jeans it is then. I pulled out a likely looking pair and laid it out on the bed. Just in time, I spotted something that saved me from making a major fashion faux pas. They had a huge label on the back that said “Jeep”.  South Africa has a major problem with cheap Chinese knock-offs. Sometimes, the imitations are so good that even the experts can’t spot the difference, but these guys were just phoning it in. Hello, China! Jeep makes cars. Not pants.

Nice try, China! What’s next. You gonna name some shoes after earth-moving machinery?

Luckily, I managed to find a backup pair. These were the real deal. Polo. Fashion is all about labels, and Polo is a name to conjure with. Those of you who don’t know fashion like I do may think you don’t know Polo, but you do. They’re the guys who make those golf shirts with the little alligator on the chest. I was a little disappointed that the jeans had no alligators on them, but there was a little label on the pocket. Pants sorted.

I went over to the cupboard to pick out some underpants. My wife, in her delirium, threw a coffee mug at me and threatened to divorce me if I wrote about my underpants. The mug really hurt, so out of respect for her condition, I won’t. I will say one thing though. After seven years of service, they breathe too. Good god, do they breathe!

Let’s keep heading north. I found a magazine while waiting for a haircut the other day that said this winter’s look was all about layers. It is, of course summer down here in the South, but what the hell. I can do layers.

I said before that fashion was all about labels, and this time I’ve nailed it. I have a limited edition long-sleeved thermal vest that is positively covered with the labels of exclusive fashion magazines.  Golf Digest, Men’s Health, Fit Pregnancy. They’re all there.

They say you can never have enough branding on your clothes. And yet I still felt the need to cut the sleeve off above the logo for “Chicken Fancier Magazine”.

The only problem I foresee is that all these cool labels will be on the bottom layer. Luckily, the labels are all on the sleeve, so all I have to do is roll up the sleeves on the outer layer. Speaking of which……

Choosing a shirt was easy. Polo pants- Polo shirt. And I just happen to have one. Or at least a cheap knockoff of one. And not a good one. Not only is it missing the little alligator; the damn Chinese have replaced it with a guy swinging an enormous hammer around on the back of a horse.

Put the hammer down, dude! You’re chasing away all the alligators.

Fail! Luckily, the hammer guy label is on the inside, so I can push ahead. We’re nearly there.

One thing us fashionistas know is that you can never fake quality. For my outer layer, I sought out the most expensive item in my cupboard. My Drizabone. It’s a classic.

I wear these in the shower when I don’t feel like getting wet.

Unfortunately, it was mainly designed to keep Australians dry as they rode horses through driving storms, shouting things like “Strewth, Mate! It’s pissing down hard enough to make a wallaby think it’s a wobbegong!” It’s not raining. Its 35 degrees centigrade outside. Oh well. Fashion is art, and one must suffer for one’s art. To round of the look, I got out my Akubra hat. Also Australian.

I was ready to rock! One last thing- accessories. Thank god we live in a time when a man can carry around a handbag without having small boys throw things at you in the street. I wish I could say that I had a tooled leather shoulder-bag, but I don’t.  I have a cheap nylon camping bag that I use to carry around my netbook. Oh, well.

Who says stylish accesories are only for women?

I threw my man bag over my shoulder and prepared to set forth. I was ready. I was fabulous. I had forgotten how ill my wife was. When I went to say goodbye, she called me Bruce, and asked me to pop another shrimp on the barby. Looks like my fashion outing is going to consist mainly of trying to convince a pharmacist to give me tranquilisers without a prescription. On the plus side, I don’t think that should be a problem for someone looking this good.

So off I set, nurturing a faint hope that I would be discovered by a talent scout. It went quite well. I wasn’t discovered by a talent scout, I was discovered by the local security company. It may have been 35 degrees outside, but in my car it was about fifty. Apparently I only managed to get out of the gate before passing out from heatstroke. The security guys called my wife to tell her that there were some small boys throwing stones at a Hobo in a Land Rover outside her gate.

She may not know much about fashion, but she’s a quick little thinker, and as strong as an ox. She managed to remove my entire outfit before heading off to the doctor with me in the back seat. For my visit to the doctor, she chose this stylish but casual pair of charcoal sweat-pants, and a trendy, fashion- forward optical illusion t-shirt.

No branding. No labels. Just timeless elegance and simplicity.

If you look at the picture for too long, it will give you a headache. Kind of like the sweatpants.

You never know- talent scouts have to go to the doctor too.

67 thoughts on “A Dedicated Follower of Fashion

  1. Spy Garden says:

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA I know this is a year old, but I just happened upon it. And in my (torturous) 100 days of writing I too felt it necessary to discuss “fashion” and also wrote about sweatpants several weeks ago (it also includes a link to your wife’s Rubbish day blog) hahah http://spygarden.wordpress.com/2013/11/07/69-on-fashion/

  2. Jo Ann says:

    Ah, you are so young to wax nostalgic over the 80s. I was just looking at a picture of me and my three sisters taken in the 70s where I am sporting the pro-revolutionary, militant look, Afro and all (and I’m not African-American). I look like a card-carrying member of the Simbionese Liberation Army about to go blow up a government building. I doubt that look will ever come back.,

    • 23thorns says:

      I think you’re wrong. Fashion officially stopped in 1990, and since then, all we seem to get is watered down versions of older styles. I’m sure we’ll get to “militant hippie” soon, just as soon as we’re done with the “powdered wig and huge codpiece” look.

  3. narf77 says:

    I savour your posts…I let them mount up in my rss feed reader and I skip over them until I have a day where the world is decidedly “meh…” and suddenly I pull up a chair, a cup of tea and get ready for the best belly laugh I have had in a long while. Write a book…we don’t need any more Harry Potter…we need a writer who can make us laugh…every…single…time…except for the times that you are able to make us cry. Duel purpose! What a guy 😉

    • 23thorns says:

      Thank you kindly. I’m afraid my posts will be a bit thin on the ground ’til Christmas is over. In retail, ’tis not the season to be jolly. Apart from the vast piles of money, of course!

      • narf77 says:

        Indeed! Comercialism abounds and all things “Ho Ho HO” are very saleable…I just shared your wonderful blog with a friend who loves it as well…it’s one of those blogs that feels like chocolate in my rss feed reader…I gravitate towards it to read it for absolute pleasure over my early morning cup of tea and save your posts up till I get the time that they deserve. You are a wonderful writer and you are wasted in retail… books should be where you are heading…we will ALL buy them :). We can wait till after Christmas…each one of your posts is like a shiny packaged Christmas gift anyway :). Living in Australia is like living in Africa… there are a lot of Africans that live here because we have such a similar climate (and similar people 🙂 ). Loved the reference to the acubra and the drizabone by the way and much like Africa…we get about a month tops to wear them before we have to pack them away sadly because the temperature inhibits us wearing them :). Cheers for a fantastic blog and I am going to keep sharing you (like chocolate) with my good friends…good blogs are like fine wine… you ONLY share them with your best mates 😉

  4. stephglaser says:

    This is hilarious — I remember those days and teasing my and and bangs to reach mega heights. Thanks for the trip down memory lane and thanks for stopping by Travel Oops! Steph

  5. pennysmits says:

    Ha ha! Love this. Thanks for liking my post ‘Mr Bold’s Albatross’. Good luck with the writing..

  6. Rhino House says:

    OK, for the first time I can see how just “victim” is a hell of a lot better than “fashion victim” – PTSD not withstanding.

  7. metan says:

    Oh god, 80’s fashion. No matter how well we think we have purged our wardrobes I think all of us who survived that time still have one or two of those unfortunate items loitering in the bottom of a drawer or cupboard waiting to leap out and traumatize us…. I’m still scarred.

    Clearly you are a fashion maven, when will we be seeing the 23 brand in stores?

  8. Too funny, loved it! You are an amazing comedic writer.

  9. Very funny! I can always use a good laugh so now I know where to look. Thanks for stopping by my blog 🙂

  10. misslottieblogs says:

    Me too, Sir I absolutely laughed!! I love this post! So funny! But with all due respect, let one of your women friends take you shopping.

  11. dhonour says:

    In our house, a man bag is called the ‘murse’. You can use that one if you want to 😉

  12. brissiemaz says:

    Reblogged this on brissiemaz and commented:
    This is a very entertaining read….a long read….but well worth the effort!

  13. brissiemaz says:

    A very entertaining read! Thank you.
    I’d love to reblog it. Is that OK with you?

  14. insahmity says:

    Once I stop hyperventilating from my 1980’s PTSD your post triggered, I’m gonna crack up. Too funny!

  15. …You had me at Hammer pants–hilarious post! (The Chinese were not responsible for the mullet or the 80’s, were they? Hmmm…)

    • 23thorns says:

      I’m not sure about the 80’s, but it was the Russians who flooded the West with mullets. They still have a substantial stockpile of them scattered over Eastern Europe.

  16. This really made me laugh. Somewhere – if I ever find it I’ll burn it – there exists a photo of me with poodle perm and big hair. fond memories, but not ones to be repeated!

  17. Betty-Sue had, as I like to call them, mall bangs or crispy bangs. I so wanted bangs like that as a kid. Alas, my hair just wouldn’t hold, no matter how much White Rain or Aqua Net I used.

  18. Nylabluesmum says:

    them…oh my I got so excited I hit REPLY too soon!!!!
    I wore Madonna clothes & jelly shoes & netting gloves & fluffed my waist length hair with lots of Canadian Mouse,,,,,I mean mousse…..oh those were the days!!! Dressing up like Boy George or Cyndi Lauper for Hallowe’en; ok i dressed like that every day when I wasn’t working….my poor husband thought I had multiple personalities…..oh those were the days, weren’t they???
    Once again a smashing blog!!!! Thanks for the memories & the laughs!!!!
    Sherri-Ellen & Nylablue (who thinks I am insane & has left the room, lol).

  19. Nylabluesmum says:

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHA!! CRYING with laughter here in Canada……oh my God you are hilarious!!!! So worried about your wife & it ends up being you taken to the Doctor…..
    As for the 80’s I LOVED

  20. 3hourgirl says:

    What a brilliantly funny post. Nothing like starting the day with a smile on my face. Thanks

  21. Amazing post. The things I learn that I never knew I should.

  22. ktfi says:

    Thank you for cheering up an otherwise bleak, grey November day! Oh the painful memories you evoke, but it is good to have some catharis and to finally face the lurking horrors of the past.

  23. mistymidnite says:

    Super funny, made me laugh outloud ! Where ever the idea? Especially liked hairspray and moses !!

  24. psychofab says:

    Also, because I his the “post” button before I was actually done typing, while I doubt anyone would accuse me of being a frumpy person, I do not have the fashionista gene which allows people to magically produce full ensembles from their closet at 7am. If you give me an hour to go through everything I own, I can pull something together that looks well planned-because it is. But I’m lucky if I have both earrings in when I have to get dressed for a routine thing like work.

  25. psychofab says:

    I am a youngin and therefore did not go through 80’s fashion. But I have a sister who did, and there are many a picture of her in a metallic gold pantsuit.

  26. Joanna says:

    Fantastic observation and attention to detail make you a fashionista bar none. Will we be seeing you at London Fashion Week next year? I am very impressed that you have never bought a pair of pants. I just fell for the ruse of the flannel lined utility pants for my husband, he was complaining about cold thighs (yes really) so he now has some fetching tartan flannelly lined trousers with many pockets to lose the house keys, dog poo bags and other assorted treasures in… Hoping to see you attack the foodie genre soon 🙂

    • 23thorns says:

      I have actually bought one pair of pants. It was a very stylish pair of cargo pants with a ring of Velcro built in just below the knee so you could whip off the bottom half of the legs when it got too hot.
      Sadly, my wife never let me wear them. I think she was afraid of all the attention I would get from the opposite sex!

  27. literarymutt says:

    Ah, yes. The days of Aquanet. I remember them well. Am I the only one who noticed that shiny, jazz-hands girl is also sporting an unfortunate panty liner?

  28. ravinj says:

    This is the best laugh I’ve had in a week! Thanks!

  29. javaj240 says:

    Your fashion sense is astounding. I, for one, usually dress like your wife. Less hassle. More comfort. No hat head.

  30. kelloggs77 says:

    FINALLY…a proper recognition of the forgotten 80’s fashion martyrs. Is there a petition somewhere for the construction of a grand neon monument? Because I will gladly sign. Someone needs to school Brokaw on who the real “greatest generation” is: the one who braved mean blisters from jelly shoes, carried the added weight of three extra watches (plus watch guards), and walked upon feet and ankles that had lost circulation from pants rolled too tightly.

  31. nice to know who the resident fashionista is – I’ll keep that in mind for future throw-back advice

  32. lylekrahn says:

    Oh my goodness. I was laughing so hard I couldn’t even read it properly. My favourite line – “I got as far as my cupboard before realising that I didn’t know what any of those things were.” So well done.

  33. Those 80s fashions brought back some memories. I didn’t actually wear any of the ones in your pictures but I had the shoulder pads, and leg warmers (though probably not at the same time). We thought it all looked quite good at the time!

  34. Dolores says:

    I think you’ve found your calling. This is by far the BEST fashion post EVER!

  35. My eyes, my eyes! Considering that I survived the 70s, including bell bottoms in the stars and stripes to celebrate America’s 200th birthday, the 80s were really, really awful. When I regain my vision, I’ll put on some leg warmers underneath my parachute pants and head down to Electric Avenue. Some things just never go out of style….

    • 23thorns says:

      I hate to tell you this, but you won’t be able to find any leg warmers. They were banned by UNESCO after an entire Jane Fonda aerobics class was wiped out by a buildup of static electricity in 1989.

  36. Learning the hard way says:

    A veritable trip down memory lane. Other than the extreme hair, fairly crackling with bleach and cans of mousse (I don’t think I called it ‘product’ back then), the 80’s was notable for my enormous shoulders. Clearly overcompensating for a distinct lack of breast tissue, my ability to walk through a doorway front on was hampered by shoulders like a quarterback (gratuitous US reference – speaking of which, it’s another a prawn on the barbie.). Thanks for another cracking read, love it ! 🙂

    • 23thorns says:

      Ah. The shoulder pads. Even us guys had them.
      I can only imagine how many potential one-night stands ended in tears when the quarterback whipped off his jacket to reveal that he was actually a direct descendant of Ichabod Crane.

  37. Tracy says:

    You have a career in fashion I’m sure – anyone who can sell more pants (the under and outer versions) by causing laughter-induced involuntary incontinence is on to a winner 😉

    • 23thorns says:

      I’m going to have to end my fashion career right now. Because I know from experience that they’re all just going to give those shamefully stained pants to me.

  38. So much fashion and the hair from the 80’s has me wonder.
    What were they thinking?

  39. I “liked” your post. I shared it with my Facebook friends. I laughed at the Moses hair but I can’t help but feel I have been somewhat misrepresented here. Now, you have called me a crack-addict before, and that is one thing, but never have you stooped so low as to suggest that I advocate the wearing of sweatpants under any circumstances. I’m sure the heat stroke was to blame. I actually dressed you in the natty turquoise and beige checked Billabong trousers. I’m sure you’ll print a correction though.

    • 23thorns says:

      You doth protest too much. You know just as well as I do that there are no more manly pants in the world.
      Picture the scene as I lie back on the couch, beer resting gently on my belly. The light dusting of Cheetos dust highlighting, in alluring orange, the sensuous curve of my upper lip finds an echo on the gentle folds of my sweats where I wiped my hands before picking up the remote.
      Could any other item of clothing better represent the masculine mystique?

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