Dear Jack: The Glory Of Classic American Holiday Sweaters

4 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack: The Glory Of Classic American Holiday Sweaters

Dear Jack,

I recently realized that of all people, I didn’t own an official holiday sweater. Seriously, I’m the epitome of dads who should own one!

A few days ago at work, my friend Sam walked in wearing a holiday sweater featuring two reindeer facing each other, with a giant snowflake in between them.

That’s the moment I became aware of my sweaterless condition.

Conveniently, the same day I received a gift card for Target. I was there for probably 30 minutes, not really impressed by any of their holiday sweaters; either too expensive or just not enough character.  But right as I officially gave up, I saw it…

A Captain America sweater! Seriously, how awesome is that?!

It couldn’t be more perfect.

Turns out, today at your school, KinderCare, it was “holiday sweater day.” So you got to wear your grumbly monster sweater, while I wore my new one as well.

Dear Jack: The Glory Of Classic American Holiday Sweaters

So now you and I are both set when it comes to owning that special token holiday sweater. Both of ours are funny, masculine, and awesome… to represent us, right?

I feel that little stories like these really help represent my pride as your dad. I love it that you enjoy making goofy selfies with me.

It’s so much fun to celebrate in stuff like this together with you. I keep reminding you that a year from now, the first of the new Star Wars movies will be in theatres and we’ll get to see it together. What a perfect time to be a little boy!

You’ve already expressed interest in Yoda.

And I think daily about how next summer, we get to camp out in the backyard of a new house, that we are scheduled to close on January 29th.

I like being your Daddy.

Love,

Daddy

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Spring Cleaning and Closet Purging: If You Haven’t Worn That Item of Clothing Within the Past Year, You’re Not Going to Wear It This Year Either, So Get Rid of It!

This black vest I wore at my 10 Year Class Reunion two years ago is now in the give-way bag. (June 2009)

I am in the third week of my new job.  That means I have now worn all my best quality and best matching “outfits” to work.  It’s  during week three that the mediocre stuff comes out of the closet.  Those weird-fitting collared shirts that pooch out in the stomach and make me look 30 pounds heavier.  The sweaters that are a little too short and expose my belt.  The purple shirt.

And for the fact that we are official in Spring now, I’m taking full advantage of my current “Spring Cleaning” mindset: This week as I wear the clothes in my closet that I don’t wear often, at the end of each day I am choosing officially whether to get rid of it (by giving it away) or keeping it.  For example, today I wore my khaki vest to work.  I think I’ve realized I like the idea of vests more than I actually like wearing them.  When I got home today, the khaki vest went into the give-way bag.

Despite the fact I bought this sweater in 2006, it still deserves a place in my closet now in 2011. (April 2011 at my sister's last day of work before leaving on maternity)

For me, I often keep items of clothes too long because of my pride of how long I’m able to keep them around.  But styles change and so do the ways things are supposed to fit.  Jeans from five years ago are going to be lighter and baggier than jeans I buy now.  Some clothes are nearly timeless; most are not.  Feel free to join me in my closet purging campaign:

If You Haven’t Worn That Item of Clothing Within the Past Year, You’re Not Going to Wear It This Year Either, So Get Rid of It!

Goodbye, Black Vest of June 2009. We had a good run.

Are Jeans Really as Comfortable as We Think?

Jeans vs. regular pants… you make the call.

Paraphrased conversation from this weekend:

Me: Those are cool.  Did you get some new plaid pants?

My sister: No, I just think you’ve never seen them before.

Me: Oh.

Pause.

Me: Actually, usually when I see you, you’re wearing pants, not jeans.

My sister: Yeah, it’s because jeans aren’t comfortable.  They fit tighter and they’re thicker than regular pants.

Me: Good point.  Maybe I should just start wearing dress pants all the time too.

Scene ends.

In my mind, I like wearing jeans because they’re so much more comfortable than dress pants or any color of khakis or corduroys.  But I can’t shake my sister’s words.  She’s right.  Jeans aren’t really as comfortable as I’ve been giving them credit for.

Though I had always assumed that pants are uncomfortable, it’s actually what I wear with the pants that I actually have a problem with.  Typically when men wear dress pants, they also wear a button down collared shirt (tucked in to the pants) and dress shoes; accordingly, women wear a dressier “top” and nicer (painfully uncomfortable) shoes.  But when we wear jeans, we tend to wear a more comfortable shirt (maybe a t-shirt or something along the lines of a long-sleeved polo or sweater) and go untucked.  And obviously, we wear more comfortable shoes.

Everything we wear with the jeans is less restricting than if we were wearing nice pants.  But honestly, the jeans typically fit tighter and are thicker than dress pants.  Plus, I believe there is more pressure to “look good in jeans” than there is to look good in dress pants.  More eyes are critical of jeans than they are for pants.

So what is the solution?  The obvious answer in my head is to start wearing pants when I would normally wear jeans.  That means I would wear sneakers or Chuck Taylor’s with any color of khaki or corduroy pants.  And a Smurf t-shirt.  Already though, that’s starting to sound slouchy.  How ironic that replacing jeans with dress pants could actually lower the standard, but it sort of does.

Even still, if only a personal project, I will be making a conscious effort to replace regular pants with jeans.  For guys, baggy jeans are a thing of the past (they died out around the time that dark jeans became the standard), which means these days we aren’t able to hang loose like we use to, thanks to the new norm being tighter fitting jeans for guys.  And for girls, I get the impression that not only are jeans not comfortable to begin with, but they’re more trouble to look good in, despite what happen for all four girls in Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants.

Challenge: Let’s replace jeans with normal pants with jeans.  I think we can find a way to make it work without looking like a slob.

Surprising twist ending…

Everything you just read was written exactly a month ago.  It was saved in my “drafts folder” because I questioned whether or not enough people would agree that jeans aren’t as comfortable as we say we are.  But today in church, my friend Tommy Axford told my wife and I that because he went to private school, he never really wore jeans until his sophomore year in high school, and after having worn khakis his whole life, he declared that jeans are not comfortable.  So much so, that he proudly proclaimed he even wears khakis when he’s just chilling out in his living room at his house.  It was because of this conversation with him that I decided this post must be made public so that others could have a chance to agree that regular pants are better than jeans.

Being that this was written last month, since then I have had the opportunity to take my own “try wearing khakis instead of jeans” challenge.  The result- I’ve continued to wear jeans in casual situations.  Not because they’re more comfortable, but because I somehow feel they’re more appropriate for me as a guy.  I have this fear of looking like a banker- and in my mind, male bankers never relax enough to wear anything besides nice pants.  But I do hope to get over this one day.  If it were truly up to me, I would wear pajama pants all the time, but I couldn’t feel comfortable socially.  You just can’t win.

Long Sleeved, Button Downs are the Shirt

In 8th grade, I saved my parents plenty of money because instead of hoping for new cool clothes for the 1994-1995 school year, I just used my dad’s closet as my wardrobe. At the time, I was around 5’ 6”, compared to my dad who is 5’ 11”. Obviously there was a notable size difference at the time, but it didn’t matter.

Because I didn’t need Tommy Hilfiger to be cool. I needed my dad’s long sleeved, button down shirts (AKA “casual dress shirts”). Worn unbuttoned over any random t-shirt pulled out of the drawer. And it didn’t really matter if the shirts matched each other either.

shirt

Fifteen years later, I now wear long-sleeved, button down shirts every day to work. Uncomfortably tucked into dress pants to look professional. And when I get home, I change into jeans. But the shirt stays.

Why are casual dress shirts so awesome? A few simple reasons.

Most importantly, they are made from thin, yet quality material. I am a man, therefore I get hot easily. That being said, casual dress shirts are designed so that the sleeves can easily be rolled up, and because of the turbulence of the buttons on the sleeves, they actually stay up, unlike a sweater or hoodie. And people think that rolled up sleeves on these shirts look good. It’s professional/hip.

And with a casual dress shirt, no one really has to know how little money I spend on them. There are no obvious logos to notice. I buy most of mine from the Unclaimed Baggage Center near my hometown for around $6.

transformer_retro

These shirts link back to boyhood. Transformers, Go-Bots, and even Legos. Boys love things that change into different things. I can go from a professional working man to a casual dude (but not a slouch).

Hoodies are great, but they do have a sloppy connotation attached. And sweaters are okay, but sometimes when I wear them, I feel like I’m wearing a sweatshirt, which makes me think of Hanz and Franz from early 1990’s Saturday Night Live.

Long sleeved, button downs are the jam. And best of all, when my wife and I are out somewhere and she gets cold, which is indeed a constant occurrence, I can sacrifice my casual dress shirt to keep her warm. Only to reveal the dorky Transformers t-shirt I happen to be wearing underneath. Double win.