I've noticed a change as I've grown older. I'm not sure if I wear my clothes "harder" than I used to or that it's a vast conspiracy of clothing manufacturers to make clothes of declining quality to ensure that we, the consumers, will need to replace them much more frequently.
Maybe age has clouded my perspective, but I seem to recall my clothes lasting longer than they do now. Jeans that I could get 2 or 3 years out of before they'd need replacement due to holes wearing in the knees, I now consider myself lucky if I manage 8 to 10 months on a pair before I need to replace them.
So today I made my semi-regular Jeans pilgrimage to the nearest mall. By the time I got to JC Penney it appeared they'd been picked clean of jeans in my size. It might have been that my family & I were merely late to the DoorBuster sale and most of the jeans in my size had been picked clean or it may be that 32 x 32 jeans are a bit less common than I thought.
As I was looking through the piles and piles of jeans in various sizes I tried to picture the type of men who would be wearing them: the 36 x 29 -- the slight but loud extrovert with the Napoleon complex that makes himself the life of the party all the time (whether or not there actually is a party to be the life of). Or the reverse, the Stan Laurel to our Napoleon's Oliver Hardy, the 29 x 36, a thin wiry Michael Richards meets Lyle Lovett looking gent with a similar hairdo to both of them.
I kept looking and while I did find some in my size they were not in a style that I would be caught dead in or they were in a style I liked, but it was a style that would lead to my death were my wife to catch me wearing them. Either way, I felt my life was too steep a price to pay for them so I continued looking. I found a pair of boot cut jeans that I liked and my wife found a pair she wanted me to try on.
I took my leave to the fitting room, my daughter calling out to me as I was trying on the jeans. The pair I found, fit well and looked satisfactory on me-- as satisfactory as jeans purchased at JC Penney could be expected to look. Then I tried on the pair my wife had found. They were 32 x 32 and I noticed they were labelled as "Skinny Jeans." I'd never tried a pair of these on before, let alone owned a pair. As I inched them up my legs I wondered if my wife had forgotten to give me the jar of Crisco that would have allowed me to slide the jeans on with much greater ease. I thought to myself, "32 x 32, my ass!" I threw in the towel and pulled the jeans back off before they were even all the way on. In addition to being entirely too tight to be comfortable, they made my legs look like a pair of dainty little twigs-- a look I was most certainly NOT going for. If the muted laughter through of the studio audience on the other side of the 2 way mirror didn't tip me off, my wife's giggling upon my emergence from the fitting room certainly did. She had never expected me to seriously consider the skinny jeans, she just wanted the good laugh that would result from seeing me in them.
Traditionally, I try clothes on and wear them out of the fitting room to get the thumbs up or thumbs down from my wife. If the thumb is pointed down, I'm dispatched back into the fitting room where I'm met by a Siberian Tiger that has not eaten in 3 weeks. If the thumb is pointed up the Tiger is on the other side of a glass partition happily eating the total combined contents of all the food from all the restaurants in the mall's food court. This allows me to put my regular clothes back on without incident.
My wife was somewhat dismayed when I came out of the fitting room without having modeled any of the clothes for her. I had somewhat foiled her little fashion joke but as I provided the details of the ordeal the skinny jeans had presented me I did get some giggles out of her and my daughter looked up at me from her stroller giggling and smiling as if she'd been in on the joke with my wife.
I also tried on a few swimsuits. I had just purchased a new one last year and somehow it magically disappeared (likely to the same abyss where the mates to all my mismatched socks end up) on a trip out east to visit my family last summer. This was rather tricky considering I had only worn the swimsuit once that whole week and it had been one of my first days there.
So, on my quest for a new swimsuit I settled on trying 3 different pairs. An orange and white floral print, a blue/black/white floral print, and a plaid pair in light pastel colors. The orange didn't work for me and the plaid pair gave me flashbacks to my days of "Florida Practice." As I looked in the mirror I had the sudden urge to sign up for AARP membership and to request the senior discount on my purchase (but of course that discount only applies if I also get the matching polo shirt, knee socks and sandals that pull the whole outfit together). It was a look that I could tell would work for me.... in about 30-40 years. I needed a look that worked for me now, so I settled on the black/blue/white floral print board shorts.
As we were leaving the store my wife & I were both commenting that the quality of clothes sold at that particular establishment seems to have deteriorated over the last several years... either that or we'd become a bit more discerning in our taste than we had been in our youth.