The Rising Suspicion Toward Sharply Dressed Men

ZZ-Top-Sharp-Dressed-ManSo I’ve been thinking about what constitutes a “sharp-dressed man” and naturally have turned to Southern Rock legends ZZ Top for inspiration.

Yet as I hum through the song lyrics, I start to feel like I’m taking the wrong cues. Maybe if you’re a rock star or A-List celebrity you could get away with this attire. But I’m not sure it’s advisable for average Joes like me to start donning the suggested raiment. Perhaps you’ll agree as we have a gander at the lyrics.

Clean shirt, new shoes
And I don’t know where I am goin’ to
Silk suit, black tie
I don’t need a reason why

I can’t poke at a clean shirt. But this is really a minimum requirement for any man who’s decided to look presentable. New shoes are splendid, but how noticeable are they compared to buffed-up, old shoes? New shoes are only noticeable around people who have seen you in your aged, crappy shoes.  I can’t see this as a significant advantage.

As for silk suits and black ties, yeah, you’ll stand out. But will it be in a good or a bad way? Perhaps at a wedding or a ritzy club you’ll garner the right attention. But ZZ Top says you don’t need a reason why. So what, you gonna get all gussied up for a trip to Food Lion? Or a park? Yes, they’ll be running as fast as they can. With their children away from the untimely dressed creeper man. I’m sorry, but I’m just too average to not need a reason why-y-y.

My skepticism escalates with the song’s next few lines.

Gold watch, diamond ring
I ain’t missin’ not a single thing
And cufflinks, stick pin
When I step out I’m gonna do you in

Jay-Z-and-DiddyImagine little me with a gold watch and diamond ring on my hand. Think people wouldn’t be suspicious my arm apparel is worth more than my car? The obvious questions would be “Was that a gift?” Or “Where did you steal it?” Maybe I’m not hanging out in the right places, but I don’t see a lot of dudes with diamond rings. I thought those were for women who had been proposed to. If you ever see me with a diamond ring I propose you slap me in my moustache. (I’m assuming things have gone horribly south for me at this point.)

As for cufflinks and stick pins, it’s hard to find fault. Donning cufflinks says “screw you” to ordinary buttons and the stick pin says “I can stab my tie if I want to.” Both are pretty rebellious and cool, but I fear they wouldn’t cut it if I ditched all the other prescribed apparel.

Top coat, top hat
Well I don’t worry ’cause my wallet’s fat
Black shades, white gloves
Lookin’ sharp and lookin’ for love

imageNo matter how nice your top coat looks, you’ll be looking like an old president when you add a top hat. Do you really want to step into a joint looking like you stepped out of a black and white film? Rather than scoring a date you’re more likely to be pegged for an Abe Lincoln impersonator. That’s cool if you’re talking to a group of school kids but will backfire with any lady who has tastes more modern than the 19th century. If you’ve gone this far with the top hat, why not just grab a cane and monocle and start hanging out on Monopoly boards?

Fat wallet? That’s a problem for guys who carry a wad of cash, which made sense before plastic cards and electronic banking. Do you ever see anyone withdraw a cash wad from their wallet anymore? They look like a drug dealer. A fat wallet is great if you want to have people question your occupation and credit history.

Everyone knows a good pair of shades can boost personal appearance. Unless you’re indoors, which is only acceptable for blind pop stars. If you’re not that, you’ll be pegged for having any number of conditions, from light sensitivity to a public offender who wishes to remain anonymous. If you’re lookin’ for love through a pair of dark sunglasses, you may find a host of creeped-out women.

And I’m really not sure when white gloves were ever a symbol of virility. Really, white gloves? Are you a mime or a cat burglar? Apparently you’re interested in not making noise, though walking into a club like a crime scene investigator may cause a bit of a commotion. You wanna know what wearing white gloves says to women? “I’d like to touch you without leaving any evidence.” Not exactly a recipe for the ladies draping themselves over you like a scarf.

The bottom line is that few people can pull off (much less afford) wearing ZZ Top’s suggested raiment. If you are rich and popular, a top hat and white gloves may be just what the party celebrates. If you’re average and unimportant, dressing like a high class pimp will certainly welcome derision and potentially get you arrested.

So, dress “smart.”

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