My favourite article of clothing for the past five years has been a huge fluorescent hoodie. The bright reds, purples, blues, greens, and yellows cascade down its whole length in thin, irregular slivers, and the interior is the most obnoxiously bright shade of fluoro yellow – like a workman’s high-vis jacket. It was given to me by an old friend in 2009 after he bought it, wore it less than five times, and then decided it needed to go. I have loved it ever since, and it has been mine.
I’ve never really understood why I have the attitude I do towards clothes; that being that I only buy a handful of articles every year, never spending much if any money, and always relishing the frustrated moans and eye-rolls of friends as I sport, yet again, another ridiculous-looking jacket or t-shirt. I often wear what I find at parties or in the lost property of bars I work at, even when my finds were clearly discarded for a good reason.
Also, because these items were never mine to begin with, they almost never fit well. When I shop at the Salvos I pick something within minutes of walking in, and regardless of whether it fits my fairly slight frame, I buy it. Girlfriends and friends alike have tried to coax me out of these ways for years but to no avail. Stupid puffy jumpers. Enormous, swimming hoodies. Outfits that never match. And always, my gleefully satisfied laughter, mocking the idiots who give a fuck.
However, I really should have been writing the above in the past tense, because I’m trying to change these complacent fashion ways. I guess my reluctance to recognise this shift, even now, shows just how hard real change can be.
It only just occurred to me recently that the reason I have this derisive attitude to the way I dress does not, in fact, come from the place of inner security I so surely thought it did. I said I never really understood the reasons for my flippant attitude, but after a few honest comments it became clear to me – last of all, of course – that I was really just scared of trying.
What if I actually tried to look good, and couldn’t do it? What if I ended up looking dumb? What if people started mocking ME!? OH HELL NO! I’ll mock them first, and I’ll mock them harder, by intentionally looking like an idiot. SEE WHAT I DO TO YOUR PRECIOUS ‘FASHION’? SEE HOW I MAKE FOOLS OF YOUR FALSE IDOLS? TREMBLE BEFORE ME, THE INDIVIDUAL! I!
Yep, I’m pretty sure that’s it. So recently as I’ve been walking the streets of Melbourne, after living here for a little over a year. I’ve just started to notice the trends I’ve been judiciously ignoring for the whole of my adult life.
I’m still not sure whether I’ve made the right decision here, by the way. There’s still a part of me screaming out that my decision to really, actually try to buy nice clothes and develop some sort of coherent ‘look’ is just a capitulation to filthy market capitalism and our shallow consumer culture… sigh.
I don’t know. Melbourne is hard guys, to fit in, or to stand out? Stand out by fitting in? Or fit in by standing out? Sigh, and sigh again…
So my old jacket, worn as it is after five years of almost weekly use, lies in one of my drawers now, along with numerous other articles of ostentatious silliness that will probably never be worn again. It has blood stains on both sleeves, and the inner seams are coming apart at each stitch. But long after the others are thrown away or given to charity bins, I know I’ll be keeping that fluorescent jacket Sam Benger gave me in 2009. It’s hard to let go of the past.
Aidan ‘Taco’ Jones is a Melbourne based comedian and writer, to read more visit ajtaco.blogspot.com