ACTUAL LETTER TO DEAR JON: Dear Jon,
I'm tired of my wife always telling me what to wear. I come downstairs ready to go to work and she tells me to change shirts or to get another pair of socks or whatever. How can I tell her to mind her own business? I can dress myself, thanks.
Husband in a Huff
Oh man! You are hilarious!
On the remote chance that you are looking for real advice on this matter, let me rephrase your question:
"I'm tired of the earth always orbiting the sun. How can I tell the earth to stop it?"
"I can dress myself, thanks." You must be married, like 3 whole months or something. You do not need advice on how to change the fundamental forces of feminine nature in your wife; you need advice on marital longevity. So here it is: Get over yourself and soon.
When it comes to the clothes you wear, your wife knows what works. You don't. In fact, my guess (unless you are a comic genius--note my initial response) is that you haven't got a clue. My proof is that she keeps having to correct your fashion choices. Now, if this were a woman writing about her husband always telling her what to wear, we would have a completely different situation on our hands.
In my last column I wrote about the reassuring behavioral traits of "boyness," which, beyond being aggravating to women, communicate to the female subconsciously that there are sufficient levels of testosterone at work to ensure the continuation of the human species. Of course, there are also levels of the counterpart hormone, estrogen, at work in the female. The problem, though, is that while women get past the aggravation due to their deeper intuitions, men have all the intuition of sand-paper. So the things that men find aggravating about women, do not in fact "reassure" the male at all. Instead we are intimidated by the nagging for good reasons and the crying for no reasons until we respond in one of four ways:
First: The jerks among men respond to the intimidation by fleeing from the relationship. That's bad when you are both seventeen and she was looking forward to the prom. It's horrible when you have been married eight years and a second child is on the way.
Second: Some men get violent. I had tried to describe these men with adjectives, but not one of them that I can think of can fit well into a family-friendly website. This is the best I can do: Men who get violent with the significant women in their lives are #^$$%^ and !@#^% -of-%^$& who should be flushed into sewers.
Third: The sensitive, well-adjusted male among us seeks to maintain open communication and strives to remain in touch with his own feelings while creating safe environments where she can share hers. There are approximately 48 such men on the planet.
Fourth: The rest of us hide ourselves behind walls of emotional aloofness.
It is a good thing that enough women realize that this aloofness is just another function of that aggravating testosterone, or we all would have become extinct centuries ago.
So, Huff, take her advice on your attire as reassurance that she is all woman, just as she intuitively appreciates your fashion dorkiness as proof that you are all man. But if you really want her to stop harping on your fashion selections, get it right before you come downstairs. This is not the advice you wanted, but this is the advice you are getting.
Ten Fashion Tips for the Average Husband
- There are five kinds of events that require different styles of wear.There is the black-tie formal, as when you are the father of the bride. Those are clothes you rent. Always do what the tuxedo rental consultant recommends. Always. Why argue? He is paid to know what to do. That he wants your money is no basis for an argument, and it is your daughter getting married, for crying out loud.
- There is business formal where a jacket and tie are normal such as at funerals, certain churches for their preachers at least, rare work places anymore although perhaps law offices still draw that line, and some dress codes at dinner clubs. The matching suit is normally a slam-dunk but the accessories can still mess up the fashion-impaired male. The sport-coat or blazer with slacks opens up a whole array of issues for correction. In all situations that require a tie the best advice is to ask: "Honey, which tie should I wear?" Here is one other key rule concerning business formals, which you should repeat to yourself out loud one hundred times: Socks match pants. Shoes match belt.
- There is business casual, which is the 21st century office attire: slacks and a polo shirt. Business casual means no tie and usually no jacket either. However, and this is probably what irritates you, these rules apply to business casual as much as to business formal: Socks match pants. Shoes match belt.
- There is week-end casual/sporting event attire: Blue jeans, white socks, sneakers, or sandals, team jerseys or sweatshirts, and printed t-shirts. Huff sir, please, I know we are hard-wired not to change out of our cool-match socks when we come home from work and change from our business casual slacks to a pair of shorts on a warm evening. Still, try to remember that dress socks worn with shorts is really really goofy thing to do. If you can't live with the harping, DON'T DO IT!
- And finally, there is athletic/beachware. This is where people can show the most skin and no one thinks much about it, unless they are male 15 year-olds who have spent all winter dreaming of bikini season. That does not mean that "anything goes." Your wife will be most finicky of all when it comes to her own beachware. When it comes to your racketball clothes or whatever, she will mainly want them washed every once in a while.
- Most of your life is spent in the third through fifth categories. In the business casual working world, getting the right shirt for the right slacks without clashing is not easily accomplished by males. It is the province of wives to have the final word on what husbands wear. This is because women are protecting their husbands from the evil, critical eyes of his female co-workers. If your wife is telling you that your choice of grays and reds are clashing because the beige weave in the shirt is throwing everything off, you have GOT to listen.
- It is almost always less embarrassing to be dressed up a notch than down a notch. It is better to wear a tie to go clubbing than to wear a t-shirt--most guys will be in slacks and polos with shoes they can dance in. However, do not ever wear a tuxedo to a funeral.
- If the condition of your shoes is an embarrassment to your wife, buy new ones. A good way of knowing is that as soon as the sole begins to separate, get it fixed or buy new. Patent leather shoes should be polished every now and again. If she notices and says something, fine, that is your clue to get it done.
- Socks with holes need to be replaced.
- Underwear including undershirts with holes need to be replaced.
If you don't want your wife to harp, dress well. If you are having trouble dressing well, thank your wife every time she speaks to that and helps you. Let it reassure you that you are married to a female who is all woman.