(This Dave Barry column was originally published May 21, 1995.)
This topic was suggested by a letter from John Cog of Norfolk, Va. Here's the entire text:
''How come when I'm standing in front of a full-length mirror with nothing on but socks, white socks look OK, but dark-colored socks make me look cheap and sleazy?'' This letter was passed along to me by my Research Department, Judi Smith, who attached a yellow stick-on note that says: ''This is true.'' Judi did not say how she happens to know it's true; apparently -- and I'm sure there's a perfectly innocent explanation -- she has seen John Cog of Norfolk, Va., wearing nothing but socks.
But the point is that dark socks, as a lone fashion accessory, create a poor impression. This is a known fact that has been verified in scientific experiments wherein fashion researchers put little white socks on one set of naked laboratory rats and dark socks on another, then exposed both groups to a panel of leading business executives such as Bill Gates, who indicated that they would be ''somewhat more likely'' to hire from the white-sock group, should their personnel needs ever include a rat.
What this means, men, is that if you're dressing for an important job interview, church supper, meeting with my Research Department or other occasion where you could wind up wearing nothing but socks, they should be white.
Likewise, if you're going to be wearing just your underwear, you should always tuck your undershirt way down into your underpants. This is the ''look'' favored by the confident, sharp-dressing men found in the underwear section of the Sears catalog, who are often depicted standing around in Rotary-Club-like groups, looking relaxed and smiling, as if to say: ``Our undershirts are tucked way down into our underpants, and we could not feel better about it!''
These men live in Sears Catalog Men's Underwear Town, where all the residents, including on-duty police officers, wear only underwear. All the residents are always in a good mood because they live only a few pages away from Sears Catalog Women's Underwear Town, which is occupied by hundreds of women who stand around all day wearing nothing but brassieres and underpants and thinking nothing of it. Sometimes, late at night, they all get together for wild parties in the Power Tools section.
The happy mood in the Sears underwear towns stands in stark contrast to the mood in Calvin Klein Perfume-Ad Town, where you'd THINK people would be ecstatic, because they're always writhing around in naked co-educational groups like worms in a bait bucket, but they always have troubled expressions on their faces, as if they're thinking: ``SOMEBODY in this co-educational group had Mexican food for lunch.''
One last underwear tip: No doubt, your mom always told you that your underwear should be clean and free of holes or stains, because you might get in a car crash and be taken, unconscious, to the hospital, and people would see your underwear and possibly ridicule it. Your mom was absolutely right, as we can see from the following unretouched transcript from the emergency room of a major hospital:
DOCTOR: What do we have here?
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NURSE: We have a car-crash victim who has severe head trauma and a broken neck and massive internal injuries and is spewing blood like a fire hydrant.
DOCTOR (briskly): OK, let's take a look at his underwear. ... WHOA! How do you get Cheez Whiz THERE?
(Laughter from everybody in the emergency room, including gunshot victims.)
Our final fashion tip for men concerns those special occasions when, for whatever reason, you want to wear something on top of your underwear. What style of clothing is right for you? The answer -- taking into consideration your particular age, build, coloring and personality -- is: ''clothing that has been picked out by a woman.'' Because the sad truth is that males, as a group, have the fashion sense of cement.
Oh, I realize that there are exceptions -- men who know how to pick out elegant suits and perfectly color-coordinated accessories. But for every man walking around looking tasteful, there are at least 10 men walking around wearing orange plaid Bermuda shorts with non-matching boxer shorts sticking out above AND below, and sometimes also poking out through the fly.
Men are genetically programmed to select ugly clothing. This dates back millions of years to when primitive tribal men, responsible for defending their territory, would deck themselves out in face paint, animal heads and nose bones, so as to look really hideous and scare off enemy tribes. If some prehistoric tribal warriors had somehow got hold of modern golf clothing, they would have ruled the rain forest.
In conclusion, men, please remember that the fashion tips contained in this column are just the ''basics.'' To learn more about the current men's fashion ''scene,'' get a copy of Esquire or GQ magazine and study the ads and articles presenting the latest styles, making a mental note to never, ever wear any of them, because unless you're a male model, you'd look stupid. Just wear a regular blue suit like everybody else and try to have both shoes the same color. You can get that Cheez Whiz out with bleach.
© Dave Barry
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