Dear Holly: Could You BE Anymore Obsessed With Minnie Mouse Clothes?!

2 years, 1 month.

Dear Holly,

You are at a point where you have all the toys that I could imagine you’d even have time to play with.

With your 2nd birthday a month behind you, Mommy reminded me you still had a gift card with money on it. We couldn’t justify using it to buy you another toy, especially knowing that you undeniably have a certain interest that even overpowers toys:

Minnie Mouse clothes!

Your obsession is pretty bad, actually. After Mommy carefully selected the best Minnie Mouse clothes for you online using the gift card, you were so excited to open them a few days later in the mail.

Needless to say, you wanted to wear one of the shirts immediately; which meant you would wear it to dinner and to bed.

You accidentally spilled some oatmeal on it, to the point it would need to be washed.

But Mommy had a feeling that you were going to want to wear it the next day as well. So while you were asleep that night, she put it in the laundry.

And yes, you wore it the entire next day as well.

If you had it your way, Minnie Mouse would be on every single outfit you wore, including your pajamas.

I’m not sure how and when you discovered your love for Minnie Mouse, or even why you like her so much, but truly, you are obsessed!

Never mind about the new toys you could have right now. You’re all set.

In fact, I’m convinced you’d rather have Minnie Mouse clothes than another Minnie Mouse doll or Minnie Mouse toy anyway.

You are obsessed with Minnie Mouse the same way your brother was obsessed with Thomas the Train at your age.

There must be something about Minnie Mouse and 2 year-old little girls that makes them the perfect match for each other!

Love,

Daddy

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The Importance of Being a Sharp Dressed Man: Appear to Be More Charming, Important, and Better Looking Than You Actually Are

I’m no fashion expert, just a guy who happens to be conspicuously clued in.

This past week, I had a job interview.  And I would say it went very well.  Plus, a few days later, word got back to me that the guy who interviewed me made a comment after I left that he really liked my suit.  People really do notice when a man knows how to dress nicely.

The funny thing is, I wasn’t actually wearing a suit anyway; it was just a good-looking ensemble.  A month ago I went to the Gap Outlet and bought a $30 black, slim-fitting sports jacket, $20 black, pinstriped pants, and a $20 dress shirt.  I already had a black-and-blue Tommy Hilfiger tie from TJ Maxx ($12) and a black pair of European style dress shoes from  the DSW Shoe Warehouse ($50).

Wearing an actual suit isn’t always the answer to knowing how to dress nicely, anyway.  By throwing together an ensemble like I did for the interview, it showed that I take enough care in my appearance, but that I don’t know too much or think too much about it.  Or even worse, that the only really nice thing I have to wear is the same suit which I wear to all “nice” occasions but then dress like Ray Romano on all other occasions.

In a world where effeminate yet culturally knowledgeable men rule the TV shows on HDTV and TLC that we watch only because our wives watch them, many of us guys have ended up shying away from knowing the basics of and the importance of dressing nicely.  We have let ourselves believe that light pleated khakis, a faded polo shirt, and Nike Shox account for “dressing up” for an event.  And if we dare attempt to push the envelope by wearing something more stylish, like a pink dress shirt, we ruin it for ourselves by wearing those same awful light pleated khakis with it, earning us a big red “FAIL” stamp.  (You should wear black, slate, or dark gray pants with a purple shirt.) A few months ago I realized that Scenic Route Snapshots was getting several hits a day from guys asking Google, “should men tuck in their dress shirts into jeans?” and “should I wear khakis to the club?” as they would click on the titles featured at the very bottom of this post.

It was then that I recognized my responsibility as an average guy who happened to have a quarter Italian blood and some distant Jewish blood in my veins (the Italians and Jews are largely responsible for leading the way in men’s fashion, like Versace who is Italian and Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger who are Jewish) to let other dudes in on what I know that they need to know.  And I’ve learned that the more I write about men’s fashion, the more that men find and read my website.  I can’t let these fashion-curious men down.

Dressing for Work: In season two of The Office, I learned this from Jan telling it to Pam: “Dress for the job you want to have, not the one you already have”.  Instead of finding ways to get by with the current dress code, find ways to slightly “up step” the expectations and your male coworkers.  For example, if you can get by with wearing “nice jeans” Monday through Friday, don’t.  Save those dark jeans for Casual Friday, but don’t just simply wearing a t-shirt then.  On Casual Friday, still wear a dress shirt, but don’t tuck it in, and unbutton the top two or three buttons.  The idea is that even on your most laid-back day, you’re still dressed nice enough to fire someone and be taken seriously.

Dressing for Weddings, Graduations, Banquet Dinners, Etc.: It mainly comes down to the belt, the shoes, and the necktie.  Rule- The color of your belt must match the color of your shoes.  In other words, it’s a sin to wear a black belt if your shoes are brown.  Which brings me to another rule- Do not wear black with brown.  While there are dangerous exceptions, like going “Black and Tan”, it’s too much of a gamble to wear black pants with brown shoes.

As far as the necktie, it’s safest to go with solid colors.  Rule: Just to be on the safe side, if your shirt is striped, wear a solid tie; if your tie is striped, wear a solid colored shirt. Regarding the shirt itself, make sure it is long-sleeved.  Last time I checked, it’s Dwight Schrute and McDonald’s cashiers that are wearing short sleeved, button down collared shirts with ties.  You don’t want to look like them; trust me.  You want to be taken seriously.  As far as wearing short sleeved, button down collard shirts, treat them like polos, not dress shirts.

Can you get away without wearing a tie to really nice events?  Yes.  Try wearing a nice vest.  Or as long as you have a good, newer suit, the matching jacket and pants will suffice.

The bottom line is this; there are certain items that every man should have in his wardrobe.  What’s not important is how much money you spend on these items or the brand names.  What does matter is that they are not outdated or worn out.  In other words, if you brag that you can still fit in the same suit you’ve had since 1993, there’s a good chance that suit is now out of style- likely, it’s too boxy and baggy.  Here are the items you need to get by:

A pair of black pants (no pleats) and black dress shoes, a pair of dark khaki pants (no pleats) and brown dress shoes, one good dress shirt, one good tie, one decent jacket that matches either the black or brown pants, a pair of nice dark jeans (not the kind that Jerry Seinfeld wore on his show), and a decent pair of casual shoes (Chuck Taylor’s, nice running shoes, etc.)  If you have these items, you can get through most situations with style.  So go to Kohl’s or TJ Maxx and buy them cheap.

I’ve got to where now I started dressing nice when I am traveling by plane.  People assume you’re more important if you’re wearing a nice jacket or a tie.  I like to think that one day my plan will pay off and I will be bumped up to First Class simply because I looked special enough to deserve it.  As for you, your quality of life will improve a small degree as you apply what you have learned today in this post and the ones I included as links.  It will be our little secret.  When you receive compliments on how nice you look, there’s no need to even bring up my name.  We’ll just keep it on the DL.

As the title implies, you will appear to be more charming, important, and even better looking than you actually are.  Your actual looks can be highly compensated for if you know how to present yourself, especially if you are consistent in your outstanding attire.  If you enjoyed and related to this post, there’s an 86% chance you will also appreciate at least one of these too, so just click the title itself to read more.

1) How to Wear Dress Pants, If You’re a Guy: Don’t Wear Them With Sneakers and Avoid Khakis

2) How to Wear Pink, If You’re a Guy

3) How to Wear All Black, If You’re a Guy

4) Sweaters are the Shirt

5) Long Sleeved, Button Downs are the Shirt

6) Are Jeans Really as Comfortable as We Think?

7) Being a Handsome Man Vs. Being a Hot Guy

8) The Perfect Haircut for a Guy: A Modern Day James Dean Hairstyle

9) Manspeak, Volume 9: Appearance



How to Wear Pink, If You’re a Guy

 

Because you’re old enough to know now.

The idea that it takes a real man to wear pink is a misconception.  Any guy can wear pink.  The question is, can that guy pull it off, or will he look stupid in the process?  He might look pretty stupid, actually.  And like he doesn’t know how to dress himself, which is an abomination against Italian men everywhere.  But not if he reads my advice on how to make it work.

It’s all about the pants. No matter what you’ve heard, don’t ever wear a pink shirt with khakis.  You don’t want to have a light colored shirt and light colored pants.  That’s too many weak colors; there needs to be a strong color to counter the pink.  Like black, dark gray, slate, or dark blue jeans.

Don’t talk about your pink shirt. If you yourself are the one acknowledging to others that you are wearing pink today, you are saying, “I don’t totally feel confident wearing this- it’s not what I’m used to”.  Let others do the “pink speaking” for you.  And if you’re wearing the right pants with the pink shirt, you are most likely to get compliments, not laughs or funny looks.

Limit your wearing of the pink shirt to once a month. Pink shirts are special.  If you wear your pink shirt every Thursday, you’ll become “the Pink Shirt Guy”.  You don’t want to bring too much attention to yourself by wearing it.  You want to be able to pull it off effortlessly.  Use it, but don’t abuse it.

Now, go buy yourself a pink shirt at TJ Maxx and be the guy that can always pull off wearing a pink shirt.

Like It, Love It, Gotta Have It Vs. I’ve Already Got One, Thanks

Fighting the urge to the live by the new American motto: If it ain’t broke, get another one anyway.

Like it? Love it? Gotta have it!

I can almost remember a time when I was a kid, where it was normal to really really want something for a long time and then when I would finally get it, my heart was content.  The newly obtained item gave my heart rest, and I was happy, as any kid should be.  Whether it was a new Nintendo game like Super Mario Bros. 2, or a bicycle, or a rare Ninja Turtle action figure like Splinter, April O’Neil, or Ray Fillet, I got what I had wanted for so long.  And funny enough, I never wanted a replacement after I received my prized possession.

But somewhere along the way, whether or not we can blame it on “typical capitalist American behavior” or the mindset of Generation X (I just barely made the cut- it’s anyone born between 1961 and 1981), it became normal to want a “new one” though the old one still works just fine.  Maybe just an innocent desire to keep things fresh.  Or maybe a potentially dangerous pattern.

My Italian grandfather was one of the most influential people of my lifetime.  Having grown up in an orphanage in Kenosha, Wisconsin (his mother died when he was young, and there were 12 kids in the family), he lived a minimalist lifestyle, only spending his money on his few children and grandchildren.  Hardly ever buying a new (used) car, new clothes, or new furniture.  Never buying anything name brand.

This way of thinking definitely shows up in my everyday life.  My wife jokes that I have more clothes and shoes than she does.  And it’s true.  Because I don’t get rid of them unless they’re literally rotted.  Like my old red running shoes I have delegated to only use for walking and riding my mountain bike on my lunch break.

It’s true that I own over twenty pairs of shoes that still look less than a year old.  But most of them are indeed at least ten years old, in actuality.  Because I have certain shoes I wear only if I know I will be outside or if there’s a chance of  rain that day.  Those are my “outside shoes”.  By wearing them instead of my “inside shoes”, it keeps my newer shoes looking new.

While I’ll never be as frugal as my grandfather (who when my mom was a little girl, reused dried out paper towels multiple times before throwing them away) I subconsciously try to imitate his lifestyle.

I can’t see myself ever buying a brand new car, knowing that it loses thousands of dollars in value as soon as the first owner drives it off the lot.  And I can’t see buying a different car until my current one costs more to repair than it does to actually buy another used one.

Not that buying a new car is any kind of moral issue, or that going on a shopping spree for a new wardrobe is necessarily evil, though it’s probably not a wise decision if it involves a credit card (I’m a Dave Ramsey fanatic).  But for some of us, that strand of “gotta get a new one” serves as toxic acid in our DNA.

It gets tiring hearing of men leaving their wives for another woman.  That’s definitely a familiar theme this year already in the media.  And while some could say, “What does to me if matter if Tiger Woods or Jesse James cheats on his wife?  Why is that national news?”  Because it does matter.

Not because we’re nosey.  But because in some sense, the reflection of the lifestyles of celebrities causes a subconscious call-to-response for the rest of us:  “Hey look, it’s normal, he did it.”

We have to either say, “No way, that’s not for me.  No thanks!”  Or “Well, maybe that’s not so bad…”

It shouldn’t be that hard to be happy with what we’ve already got, even if it’s not perfect.  And really, that’s a mindset that is often difficult to accept and adopt: Near-perfect is as perfect as life can really get.

Is the grass really greener on the other side?  Yes, of course it is.  But the irony is this: You’re already standing on the other side.  Somebody’s else’s “other side”.

You’re already standing on the greener grass.

"I don't care how... I want it NOW!" -Veruca Salt

Comfortable Friday


 

Of all people, I should appreciate the quirky American tradition so many offices participate in once a week called Casual Friday.  After four hard days of working while dressed in a restricting long sleeve shirt, tie, and pants (or at least a polo shirt and khakis), the dress code nearly disappears on the 5th day.  Jeans, t-shirt, and flip flops are completely acceptable.  Goofy.  Just plain goofy.


 

The whole idea behind dressing professionally for work is to establish a mentality for the workers to act the way they dress. It also helps draw lines between superiors and those who answer to them, as managers and bosses tend to dress a little nicer, accordingly. But then that all goes away on Friday.  The playing field is leveled out, according to appearance.


 

If the way a person dresses does indeed reflect their initiative and performance at work, why play around with that once a week?  The answer:  It must not really make a difference.  Often, Friday is my most productive day of the week.  And I’m dressed like it’s Saturday morning.


 

Last week’s rerun of The Office addressed some of the tackiness that often accompanies Casual Friday.  Meredith’s lack of clothes, Oscar’s nasty feet, and Toby’s clashing colors.  It just makes me laugh: the double standard of dressing professionally for 80% of the work week and dressing like a slouch for the other 20% of it.


 

Typically on Fridays I wear my comfortable, worn-in/worn-out jeans (circa 2002 so they’re that light shade of blue that used to be the standard), along with a comfortable t-shirt (usually something I got for free from an event I participated in during 2002 and should now only be wearing to wash a car or do yard work in) and my 2002 Etnie skate shoes I wear not because I skate, but because they’re so comfortable- I refer to them as my Marshmallow Shoes because they’re so soft and cushioned.  The obvious recurring theme: clothing from the year 2002.  The other obvious recurring theme: comfortable.


 

Casual Friday is really Comfortable Friday.  If I dressed casually on Fridays, I would wear slimmer fitting darker jeans, an untucked collared shirt, and sneakers.  But I don’t.  And while I call it Comfortable Friday, “comfortable” can easily become a synonym for “sloppy”.  Sloppy is in the same word family as “slob”.  Slob Friday.  But I’m not complaining.  Some people like to play dress up to look and feel important at work.  For the rest of us, there’s Friday.


casual Friday