Leonardo"s Notebook by Mattheus Mei

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Bidding farewell to those white oxford shirts


If one were to peruse through my closet there would be one seminal article of the male clothing that would be seemingly missing. I'm speaking of course of the white oxford shirt.

Shockingly it's such a profound dislike for these shirts that explain their absence from my wardrobe. No discrimination is made between 100% Cotton and the blends, whether they're polyester or lycra; no distinction drawn between the thicker winter varietals with their rough texture and the airish summer shirt that is both thin and at the same time smooth.

But why should I dislike such a standard bearer of the male garb? The reasons are surprisingly many.

No matter how many times you go over the shirt with that familiar back and forth motion with the pwsh pwsh sound of high pressured steam as it's being released through the grate of a high temperature plate of metal you can't seem to win, because as you iron one of these shirts, no matter how many wrinkles you manage to steam press out you create at least two more.

What about the fact that even with an undershirt because of seepage, sweat seems to stain the collar and underarm which over time, even when bleaching, there's left a presence of faint yellow brown akin to the color of smoker's teeth.

And speaking of stains and bleach, over time - periods that seem to be getting shorter and shorter - with the Oxford Shirt, no matter the fact that you use the detergent or bleach (alternative) that's supposed to keep your whites bright - these shirts seem to fade and transmute again into a variant on that bright angelic white that's less than saintly to somewhere between off white and mother of pearl. And after so many washes in these detergents those thick winter Oxfords whose rough texture was a characteristic of the robustness of the fiber wears to that like a worn teddy bear, while the summer shirts in their arishness and smooth textures tend to go in two directions depending on their composition, frayed and as ragged and worn as their winter counterparts, or strangely more slick like a snake in its new skin.

Let's not forget about wearing the shirts though, already I've mentioned the fact about sweat and staining but lets not forget another facet - in that no matter the winter or summer variety, the thickness or texture, you must wear an undershirt. One can't go without wearing an undershirt which in the summer defeats the purpose of the lighter materials causing one to sweat more and in the winter to absorb the sweat caused from wearing such a thick article but in turn generating more.

The fact that the undershirt is absolutely necessary points to the most obvious failure of the white oxford shirt, when warn on the back of a man, race not withstanding, the shirt is translucent. And if you don't wear an undershirt everyone can see your nipples and, if you have it, especially chest hair. It's self defeating off the hanger and on the back because the pure driven snow whiteness doesn't hold and the man looks not like he's wearing a white shirt if he looks like he's wearing anything at all.

I suppose I could at this point go the esoteric route and relate the white oxford shirt with all of it's flaws to white hegemony and the sins of that racial/cultural imperialism - perhaps even relate it to current events in places like Iraq of American politics, obviously that would denote a strong sense of white guilt. Or I could point out the fact that growing up it's the only type of shirt that I ever wore when dressing up - weddings, funerals, Sunday Morning Worship at the local Southern Baptist Church in Cheraw, school pictures and family functions - that by the shear volume of times I've had to wear such shirts or even owned so great a number as a reason for my derision. But to do that would take away from the purely visceral disgust that I have, even at the sight of a white oxford shirt, a disgust that has lead me to purge my closet of any such garments, to cull from my conscience any note of appeal or appreciation for such a wretched shirt.

Never again shall this trollop masquerading as a staple of men's fashion find quarter within my wardrobe, friendship amidst my clothes or function upon my back.

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2 comments:

Waldo said...

Besides all what you said, "one seminal article of the male clothing" sounds like a gay version of Monica Lewinsky," Waldo adds, in his snorting, smirking, Beavis and Butthead manner.

Gashwin said...

Peruse means to read thoroughly. Whatever else you might be doing with/in your closet, I don't know that you're reading it/there ... :)

Do I need to talk to your boss to give you some work, before the blogosphere is littered with dollops of your purple prose about the most mundane trivia? :)