Wednesday, January 5, 2011


SHORTS! I once was at a poetry reading and I saw a woman wearing shorts with cowboy boots. Maybe she wasn’t wearing the boots, maybe I’m just putting the boots in there to make the shorts weirder than they already were. To clarify, the shorts weren’t weird in a specific way, and it was appropriate to wear shorts that day (considering it was 100 degrees out), they were just weird because shorts are weird in almost all circumstances.

Sometimes l cut off a pair of jeans and bum around the house in them. Sometimes I walk down to the trash shoot in them.

But generally speaking, I take an anti-short stance [for many years I didn't, and looking back at pictures, it's really too bad].

I would especially take this stance if I were giving a reading. If I had to wear shorts to a reading, like if a reading series required all readers to wear shorts, I'm pretty sure somebody would have to take me to the hospital afterward. In short, in shorts I feel naked and in my pajamas at the same time.

Shorts are, in a word, undignified. I said this to two guys at work and they were outraged, like “Don’t EVEN call my mom undignified. YOU ARE THE ONE WHO IS UNDIGNIFIED IN YOUR PANTS.”

What can I say? Regular non-artsy dudes love a good short.

The only time you will ever see some indie artsy fellow wearing shorts is at the gym. And then they will pair it with a t-shirt with the name of an obscure band or an ironic picture of a wolf howling at the moon, as if to say, “These weights that I am lifting are not that heavy. But that is because I am alternative.”

SCARVES! This same poet the next time I saw her—I don’t know her but she seemed perfectly nice--was wearing a scarf. But not a winter one. One like French people wear. Again: weird. That is for French people, scarves with no thermal purpose.

Ms. Gainsbourg?

Excuse me, Ms. Gainsbourg?

Oh, sorry, ma’am, I forgot my glasses at home.


Granted, Charlotte Gainsbourg could wear shorts and cowboy boots and a giant scarf all together at one time and she would look so amazing, you would hurt inside, like I WANT TO BE YOU. I WANT TO SING LEMON INCEST WEARING THAT OUTFIT.

Clement Louis gets a pass, obviously.

And his answers are the best:

1. What do you splurge on?: I got crushes on scarves! And boots, too, because I love awesome old-leather boots.

2. A fashion rule you never break: Being classy: it's the best if you understand classy!

I am guilty of not understanding classy and having worn scarves of the not-for-warmth variety. I actually had a scarf from France that I bought it in a tourist shop at St. Michel. At the time it made me feel “I am sophisticated and worldly--as this scarf very clearly expresses.” I thought it looked so good, sometimes I would transfer it up to my head and wear it David Foster Wallace style so the Frenchness would get a little closer to my brain. Also, kerchiefs were in style in Indiana back then and I was stylish, that was just who I was in my DNA, so it wasn’t really up to me.

I have friends who wear scarves and they look great and I don’t judge them for doing so. I actually don't mind people in scarves if I know them. But I would not like to meet a person for the first time wearing a scarf. It would be confusing for me.

NEVER HAPPENED THIS WAY Do you ever watch a movie and while you’re watching it, you’re thinking, This outfit is so strange and bad, even for this time period, but when people watch this movie in twenty years, they will mistakenly think, “Welp. That was the 80s for ya!”? I am referring specifically to the short/boot combo in SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL:

And the prom dress in FOOTLOOSE:

[Okay, so the dress might have been bad because her parents were religious, but still: No.]

I vividly remember thinking, “Somebody should write a short note and put it in the archive so that our successors will know the wearings of their ancient peoples, like: “That outfit is not “of a time.” It was always terrible and embarrassing.”


  1. I think shorts are good when you want people to see your socks, and that your shoes are high tops--that's why I wear them! Guess I'm not artsy?

  2. Yes, not an artsy fellow, not everybody can be. Also I am not a fan of mandals. I don't want to see any unknown man toes.

  3. We had a high school friend who frequently wore the Lea Thompson slouchy cowboy boot/short/crazy belt/patterned shirt with pin at the collar outfit or some variation thereof. As soon as I saw the pic, I thought of her. Do you remember?

  4. No! Who was she? I have no idea who you're talking about. Wow. Was that outfit bad at the time? It was odd even then right? Also, when I think, "nobody even wore that back then!" sometimes I think, "well maybe it's just that nobody wore that in the midwest." I guess it's possible people wore that on the coasts. Who would know?

  5. Katie. She had all manner of those crazy slouchy boots and wore them with shorts. They weren't the khaki shorts Lea Thompson is wearing in the pic. They were more like some Z. Cavaricci/distressed overall nonsense. I think her family even had a boot intervention with her, she had so many pairs. Yes, the outfit was bad and odd at the time.

  6. Shorts are uncomfortable. This post is perfect. The fashions in Some Kind of Wonderful deserve further inquiry. The hair is also worth interrogation. My god, the Aqua Net they must have used.

  7. The thing about Aqua Net, Roxane? It works so well and you have to give it up to things that work, even if the ways in which they work are gnarly. If you have not washed your hair since the eighties, your rooster comb is still standing strong, I can bet that. Also, I am fairly certain I have brain damage from Aqua Net. As boxers take punches to the head, knowing that eventually, mental impairment is coming their way, I took that punch to the head in the 80s with huffer's dream hair products like Aqua Net. Sometimes White Rain, though WR really is a poor man's Aqua Net. My hair stood strong and tall and nobody can take that away from me.