For much of my life, it seems, many people have had an opinion on my personal style (or lack thereof). One of the perks of getting older is that as each decade goes by, the comments have grown fewer. I don’t think it’s because people’s opinions have weakened, I think they either have given up hope or have reluctantly accepted my little eccentricities.
I’ve never, ever liked going to the barber (or hair stylist, when you want to over-inflate the job title). You might as well plop me down in a church for as much lack of joy it brings me. When I was a kidling, my father enthused about getting me a buzz cut. I loathed it. As a child of the 60s and 70s, long hair was what I considered normal, though I was prevented from sharing that style. Slowly, my haircuts got longer (yay), but it still entailed regular visits to the barber (boo).
I finally gave up on that. In my late teens, after yet another badly-executed haircut, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I’d cut it myself. As a result, all of my adult life, with one single exception of having to appease a cousin who was a very good hair dresser, no one other than me has cut my hair.
As the century waned, I decided that even that was too much. Barber issues aside, I’ve never understood or embraced the need to shorten or style the strands of keratin extruding from my scalp. Itseems sort of pointless if you aren’t trying to put on some mating display. So, a while back I finally did what I wanted to do all my life: I stopped cutting it. I’ve never been happier about my hair. Yeah, it sometimes gets in the way, but that’s less of a hassle than tending to it all the time. Clean, comb, and forget. Easy.
Clothes have followed a similar path of simplification. Most of us (I think) can appreciate the ill-advised nature of having your childhood clothes picked out for you by your parents. Compounding the pain was my having to get clothes in the “husky” sizes—especially when there wasn’t an overweight/obesity problem in the country at the time. Eventually, the standard shirt+jeans uniform held sway, though the style of shirt shifted over the years. Nowadays, for me, it’s a diet of dark workshirt over a T-shirt, and jeans.
I’ve chosen a simple, practical sartorial style. My clothing is durable, it all matches, is easily affordable regardless of my financial condition, and suits me. It’s about as plain as you can conventionally get without being Amish. And, like my hair, it’s easy.
Gone are the days when I try to match pants with shirts or my mood. Or worry about if I want a collar or not. Or if I should go long-sleeve or short. I never have a fashion meltdown because of a checks and stripes SNAFU. I also get to avoid a lot of ritual occasions. I haven’t owned a suit (or a blazer) in more than two decades, and a lot of those sorts of gatherings require dressing like an adult (or someone who gives a damn). Historically, I’d wear the suit once and then, when it came time to wear it again, the fit had changed. What a waste of money that could be put to better use buying a new motherboard or CPU. I figure if people want me badly enough, they tell me to come anyway.
One of the facets of timeless nerd cred is that you don’t dress for anyone but yourself. Thus, it tends to be practical and/or comfortable. One of the great perks of working “in the backroom” as it were, is that the dress code tends to be amazingly flexible. We weren’t seen by the public and that was fine with us. True, while people have been known to mock a nerd’s fashion sense, the fact is that it’s practical. It suits the person. Not everyone wants to spend the time, money, or pay the emotional cost to try to fit in with the pretty people or to cater to the capricious whims of fashion. Let me dress how I want and spend the money on my nerdy toys and my life will be happier. It’s simple. And it works.
PS: No, I’ve never worn a pocket protector…but I have wanted one from time-to-time. They can be darned useful.