How to Take Control of Your Wardrobe

30 Dec

Young Lolwut would like to take charge of selecting his clothing, thus ending the playground taunts of “Your mother dresses you funny.” Hopefully, with a little advice, Lolwut can turn the tables on his schoolyard antagonists, pointing out that he dresses himself.

Mr. (?) Lolwut –

As far back as I can remember (which is sometimes just earlier in the day), children have always yearned for more personal freedom and parents have yearned for more time to themselves. There’s just no good way to “have your cake and eat it too,” as several parents have said while avoiding direct questions.

As my brother and I found out during our many long and mostly sunless years growing up in a secluded corner of the dimmest part of town, our parents would be hard-pressed to give up what little control they had in life by letting us make our own decisions.

When it came right down to it, selecting our clothing, toys, books, friends and major religion were the only choices they really had left to make. Several foreclosures had ensured that they ended up in the only housing that would take them. Many years of invisible toil in thankless jobs had left my father on the corporate treadmill. My mother most likely would have enjoyed selecting a different living room dirt floor pattern and husband, but a series of misunderstandings during a “duck and cover” drill during health class had left her impregnated.

So they chose everything for us. We first noticed this when we asked for new bicycles. We had seen some in the local circular and thought they’d be a keen way to escape the unlit sections of town, if only for an hour or two.

We were denied this request and given ambulatory contraptions cobbled together out of factory seconds from Josiah’s Handcart Shoppe and abandoned hoop skirts. While they were mobile enough to outpace walking, they left us full of groin-area bruises and splinters.

When we wished to change schools in hopes of reaching the nearly-mythical 6th grade, we were informed that our entire family had attended this underlit one-room schoolhouse and that we would too. When we indicated that the schoolhouse had not been staffed in over a year thanks to the new public school only minutes away by splintermobile, we were told that anything past 4th grade was simply “showing off” and would only make our ancestors jealous and perhaps homicidal.

Needless to say, choosing our own clothes was out of the question. Due to the extreme financial duress we endured, my brother and I were often subjected to hand-me-downs from various well-meaning relatives who apparently had the big hearts to give away their excess wardrobe but not the brain capacity to retain pertinent information such as our ages or sexes.

Consequently, my brother and I were usually adorned in bizarre combinations of flapper pencil skirts, vintage Levi Strauss undergarments, low-cut burlap sacks and various pieces of chainmail. We would do our best with what we had and hastily mount our rolling hoop skirts in a vain attempt to grasp at higher education before it was removed and taken nearly nine blocks away to what for all intents and purposes was another planet.

As we grew older, we lost our will to fight these various injustices and instead, became genteel doormats for our parents’ micromanagement. The day our draft cards were called was one of the happiest of our young lives. Finally we would have a chance to dress like others and perhaps even ride a splinterless, free-rolling vehicle.

Take heart, Lolwut. You’ve not much longer to endure this treatment. Sooner or later you’ll be free of their iron grasp and allowed to dress yourself however ridiculously you want, at least temporarily. By that time, however, you’ll most likely be looking for employment or higher education and will have to adjust your wilder apparel selections in order to retain both of these advantages.

To the future!

Clifton L. Tanager

7 Responses to “How to Take Control of Your Wardrobe”

  1. bschooled December 30, 2010 at 2:41 pm #

    Clifton!!! You’re back!!! I’m sorry I didn’t know you had returned, I blame the weather for my tardiness. (But only because I blame the weather for everything.)

    But enough about me, let’s talk about me and how much I’ve missed your engaging words of enlightenment. Any man who can educate the youth of today while kicking back in a low-cut burlap sack and chainmail, is a remarkable man indeed.

    If you ever decide to go into life-coaching, Clifton, let me know. I have a few connections…

    • Clifton L. Tanager January 11, 2011 at 10:40 am #

      Yes, I’m back. I failed to make a big deal out of it as I was otherwise detained (before being released on my own recognizance and for being a rather harmless trilby-wearing gentleman).

      Thanks for the warm welcome and kind words, bschooled. I’m always surprised that several years in chainmail has left me with no more than a half-dozen fused discs in my back and a rather light case of oxidation.

      I’d be interested in pursuing this “life-coaching” if only to help the youth of today make the same mistakes as their forefathers. Perhaps we could start with them filling out their Selective Service forms.

  2. elizabeth3hersh December 31, 2010 at 2:17 am #

    Clifton, may I say you are more entertaining than an Ann Rule crime tome, and more masterful than a Roy Black cross examination at an alleged rape trial? (If your words were edible, I would soon need gastric bypass.)

    I might have answered a bit differently. It would depend entirely on what the parents are buying. When I was in middle school, my father and step-mother purchased all my clothes. I would wear ridiculous outfits resembling beehives and Santa’s elves (true story). I don’t know what the equivalent was to K-Mart back then, but it was pretty damn close (thrifting would have yeielded better results). On the other hand, as an adult, I have purchased close to 95% of my daughters wardrobe. Bees would not be attracted to her nor would Santa round her up on his trip back to the Pole. My youngest has a fashion blog and gets 1,000 hits daily and she just made her ‘debut’ in the February edition of Seventeen Magazine (page 30…smack me, I’m gloating). While shopping at Allsaints recently in the new Las Vegas Cosmopolitan, I discovered steampunk and was instantly smitten. So, our wardrobe covers the entire gamut and the girls are fairly pleased (I think). I would advise Lolwut to pass on the current stuff and instead pluck out the vintage in his parents closet and punk it out.

    It’s nice to know young people still care about styling themselves. If only they knew of the treasure trove in their parents closet.

    Looking forward to the next post, ♥♥♥Clifton♥♥♥

    • Clifton L. Tanager January 11, 2011 at 4:11 pm #

      I’m very flattered by your kind words, elizabeth. There’s nothing like being compared to a crime novel, a rape trial and gastric bypass, all in the space of an opening paragraph.

      I think your advice on the thrift shop is dead on. You can’t go wrong buying clothes that have already lived a full life. I’m not sure what the equivalent to K-Mart was back in my day, unless it was Gimbel’s, which was always known as “not Macy’s.” Of course, Macy’s continues on to this day, now mostly known as “Macy’s is still in business?” This question is posed with a considerable amount of incredulity as Macy’s heyday (not counting the annual parade) was nearly six decades ago.

      Anyway, thrift store shopping teaches kids all they need to know about the flightiness of fashion trends. It also teaches them that everything that shouldn’t come back in style probably will, so why not save a few bucks and pioneer the return of parachute pants and day-glo headbands?

      I’m sure your daughters have their collective fingers on the pulse of today’s youth. I can’t keep up with it myself, finding it troublesome to keep a solitary finger on my own pulse during my morning routine which involves making a joke about checking the obituaries for my own name, followed shortly thereafter by verifying vital signs while waiting for the water to boil.

      Shortly thereafter I leave the house to take a quick walk and return to the smell of scorched metal and the mild outrage of my neighbors.

      Thanks for the visit and kind comment, elizabeth. Have fun steampunking and shopping for beewear.

  3. jammer5 January 23, 2011 at 12:08 am #

    Dear God, does that bring back memories of me as a twelve year old and my parents buying me a solid gold-colored suit for Christmas, which I was forced to wear. If ever there was reason for torturing ones parents, and hiding the remains out in the desert some where, that was the time.

    From then on, I was allowed to choose my own clothes. So maybe a bit of good came of it, but the embarrassment I had to go through for the next month was a social setback to say the least.

    Fine answer for the kid, and should he follow your advice, I suspect he will be fighting the girls off in no time.

    • Clifton L. Tanager January 25, 2011 at 10:41 am #


      My apologies for the delay in responding to your comment. I left the house without my keys, hat or pipe three days ago and have just now convinced the landlord that I have actually lived here for the past two decades. A box of cancelled checks and two decades of stolen newspaper seemed to do the trick.

      Parents always seem to place their children’s emotional discomfort well above their physical comfort. They want to make sure you’re clothed, but they seem less interested in the specifics. As long as it’s made out of some sort of fabric, they don’t see the problem in attiring children in gold-colored suits, burlap/chainmail, or Boy Scout uniforms.

      I do hope this youngster follows this advice. I would hate to see another grown man bitterly declaiming his upbringing all over the internet.

      Thank you for the comment and visit, Jammer5. Always a pleasure to see you.

  4. Scott May 21, 2011 at 9:19 pm #

    That kid doesn’t know how lucky she’s/he’s got it! I’ve hated clothes-shopping ever since I was a kid. In fairness, I was a hard-to-fit kid, because I was larger than most other kids my age–and at 6’3″ and over 300 lbs. I’m a hard-to-fit grownup. But trying on clothes for hours to find the right size is hell, for me! Occasionally, I’ll pick up a 3XLT T-shirt with a cool look. Other than that, my mom and my sisters still buy my clothes–particularly for Christmas and my birthday. They are glad to do it, and I don’t mind a bit!

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