Monday, May 03, 2004

Clothes-minded

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I wear clothes because I am ugly, for one thing. For another, I have a keenly honed sense of shame. Therefore, I demand very little of my clothing -- primarily that my clothes be opaque.

But just because I'm following the bare minimum requirements, that doesn't mean I can't be a fashion maven. I got style, boy howdy. I got it coming out of my ears.

Guys who are super-hep like me, with a vise-like deathgrip on the pulse of male fashion, are already familiar with Cargo magazine, online at www.cargomag.com, or at a newsstand near you, if you are near a newsstand.

Cargo is a new shopping magazine for guys who want to wear the expensive duds all the Hollywood stars are wearing. The magazine is full of photos of trendy clothes and information on where to buy them. Mostly in New York. I tried to find some Fall River stores in there, like Burlington Coat Factory or that place on South Main Street with that shiny shirt in the window, but I guess because it's still the first issue, not everybody's listed.

Apart from that appalling error, Cargo is very tightly researched and extensively documented. In a phrase, Cargo is U.S. News & World Report for metrosexuals.

I took a look at the online version in the interest of passing a review along to you, dear consumer. I don't need this information. I've got shirts and pants that have lasted me just fine for seven years, sometimes more.

Besides, the clothes featured in Cargo are "outfits." I don't wear "outfits." I've never tried, but I don't think I will in the future--it seems like work.

Anyway, I went to the Cargo Web site and was greeted by the most darling pair of Madras shorts you ever did see. They were all funny colors, I swear. Too bad I already have a pair of shorts.

The site includes gushing descriptions of the clothes. "Even if you weren't sent away for the Big Sleepover (a.k.a. boarding school), you've probably begun to notice the reappearance of natty Nantucket threads."

Sheesh! Tell us something we don't know, Cargo! No one in Fall River can throw a stick in any direction without hitting somebody in natty Nantucket threads, boarding school alumnus or no.

I also found a suit, a gray one. It's yours if you're switched-on enough and you have $784 to blow on a gray suit. Cargo describes the ashen finery thus:

"Proust had his madeleine. Preps have seersucker, which conjures images of wide green lawns and summer polo matches. ... Best worn with a light-colored shirt, a dark tie and a gin and tonic." To avoid unsightly spots, the trick is to soak the
entire suit in a pail of gin and tonics, then lay flat to avoid wrinkles.

There's also a pair of black "Gucci calfskin driving loafers" for $295. I'd consider getting them, but I'm always in too much of a hurry to change shoes before I drive anywhere. Also, $295 buys me and my wife 15 bucks worth of din-din at China Star 19.66 times.

Those fancy-schmancy Gucci mukluks are tempting, though, I have to say. Dig this, jackson: "You don't have to own a Jag to slip into these smooth-looking, butter-soft driving shoes." What a coincidence! I don't own a Jag! However, I'll have to spread butter in my old shoes manually until I can conjure up the $295 somehow.

There's also a belt in there for $30 that looks like one I used to have when I was a kid, which probably cost about $2.50. "They're a natural with jeans or khakis," the site says. In other words, wear the belt with pants.

The site also posts corrections and updates from the print version. This feature is for guys who have gotten their Nantucket lobster-print shorts in a twist (available for a mere 84 clams at Murray's Toggery Shop, Nantucket!) when they can't find the products they want.

For those of you who have the print copy of Cargo, take heed. On Page 76, you will find a listing for a grooming utensil that has sadly become obsolete: "Since the publication of Cargo's premiere issue, production of the Tweezerman Nose Hair Clipper has ceased," the site says.

I don't have to worry about that particular problem--I hand-yank errant nostril hairs at work to keep myself awake. But for cool guys whose nasal hairs fairly sweep the floor before them, Cargo has help. There's an article about the latest in shaving oils.

The Cargo Web site isn't just a place to find fancy duds. It's a whole lifestyle help center. There's an online forum and message board--like the Greek agorae of old, a place where metrosexual men can meet and exchange beauty secrets.

Although one question was a bit strange:

"Does anyone know how good the laser works to wax the chest? I am thinking about it and also I would like to have it done on my face." Sadly, this one has, at press time, gone unanswered, and the asker is still, at press time, quite hairy.

Other people were more helpful. "My feet stink!" wrote one Cargo-goer. "I have no clue why. I also have wet hands. I use that powder stuff, but still not enough." And then, in palpable desperation: "SOMEONE HELP ME." A respondent gave him a tip to remove odors from shoes--but not help with drying out the guy's perpetually moist extremities.

A third guy on the forum asked his fellow Cargonians what were "the best fittin jeans out there?" He received several replies--see, if it weren't for Cargo, this guy would have just gone to the mall and ended up with ill-fitting denim pantaloons. Thanks to the marketplace of ideas known as the Internet, other cool guys had different suggestions. Some were more suggestive than others:

"Are you tall?" reads one reply. "Short? Thin? Muscular? Do you have large or small thighs/buttocks? Do you wear boots a lot?"

I was immediately petrified that I had stumbled onto the wrong kind of page and began clicking anything to get me the hell out of there--you know how the Internet is.

Turns out I was safe the whole time, but just for future reference: If you're just an average man's man looking for another $110 Barney's silk dragon-print tie to add to your collection or tips on "manscaping" your pube area, then Cargo's for you. If you're like me, and don't feel comfortable discussing your thigh or buttock size or boot-wearing habits in public, stick to the mall, thanks.

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