Guys, guys, guys, wow, hold up for a second, we’ve got a real outdoors issue on our hands. We as a community have a problem and we’re in trouble. What’s the problem? Well, to put it gently – outdoor style is ugly as hell!
I just skimmed through the REI sale to see if there was anything I absolutely had to have (there isn’t) but as I scanned the offerings, a knot formed in my stomach and I had to GTFO so I could stick my head into a biker bar and soothe my eyes with a style other than “outdoorsy.”
Go look for yourself (take a lifeline so you can find your way out, it’s like an avalanche of khaki in there). Rack after rack of plaid shirts, earth-tone sweaters, button-up shirts with subdued patterns, A-line “travel dresses” made of “technical” fabric. Rack after rack of beanies with shades so similar it’s paralyzing to pick one (I know this by experience. I ended up leaving without a hat because I was so overwhelmed with boring). Hemlines and necklines carefully within some weirdly conservative and unoriginal standard. Colors straight from the reject pile of the 96-crayon box of Crayola. Many of the clothes are quite literally cut from the same cloth, and they all use the same color consultants (for 2015, we get stripes, restrained tie-dye, and mutated, barely-there paisley scattered throughout the one-color-wheel-step-over-from-jewel solid colors). Even the most off-kilter selections are subdued and, much of the time, drab. My god. Who dresses like this? (Answer: everybody.)
People, this shit is hideous and we have to stop rewarding it with our dollars. Technical wear gets a pass because allegedly form follows function in that arena (surrrreeee it does….) and given the constraints of the short list of things we really need in, say, puffy jackets, we’re really going to have to expect a lot of the same and just live with it. But for casual wear? What happened to personal style? What happened to originality? Does everything from fit to colorway need to be “muted”? WHERE IS EVERYONE’S PERSONALITY??
Are you a victim? (Yes, you are.) Here’s a quick test:
1. What color are your pants?
a. dark grey
2. What brand is your shirt?
b. The North Face, Columbia, Mountain Hardwear or Patagonia
c. REI brand
3. Are your underwear “technical?”
a. Well, yes
b. No, they are “travel” undies
c. No, they are a “base layer”
4. Do you own capris?
a. They’re not capris, they’re long shorts!
b. I refuse to answer
5. Are they khaki?
5. Are you wearing any form of vest?
a. God. Yes. I’m sorry.
6. Do you have a “nice” puffy jacket to “wear around town,” that you refuse to use for actual puffy jacket activities so you can keep it nice?
a. What else am I supposed to wear to the Banff Film Festival? It’s the only fancy event I go to all year!
b. (I know you do, so just move on.)
7. Are your socks wool?
a. Is merino wool?
b. Hah! I’m wearing sandals
8. Do you have sport specific clothing for any of the following:
d. Running for a longer time
9. Does your dog own something you bought from REI?*
a. He NEEDS his own camping pad, you monster
b. Hey, Chaco makes great sandals AND dog collars
c. I got him the backpack so he can earn the right to go on backpacking trips, my god, dog food is heavy, I’m not carrying that shit for him!
d. And since I bought the dog backpack OF COURSE I had to buy the dog backpack cover, because my dog is super concerned about his stuff getting wet.
10. Do you wear any clothing made of cotton?
a. No, because I know It Kills!
b. Hell no, I’d never wear cotton! I wear that special technical fabric that absorbs sweat and keeps you cool. I’m no idiot!
You don’t have to send me your results. I already know you need help. We all need help, because the “lifestyle” product lines are sucking our souls out. If your town has less than 500,000 people in it and there’s an REI there, you are all wearing the same clothes and that’s a fact. Not only are we all wearing the same clothes, but we all have very slight variations on the same general hairstyles (except me and that’s true). Everyone looks the same and it doesn’t even matter what brand you’re wearing because they are all copying each other and we all look like absolute tools, or, more accurately, we look like a giant gravel driveway because everything we wear blends together in a forgettable array of varying shades of grey, brown, and anything drab under the sun. If any of us risk wearing color it’s going to be so toned down that no one will notice anyway (do YOU notice the red hairband you dropped in the driveway six months ago? Wait, I’m onto something. That’s it! That’s the very color shade they go for when venturing away from earth tones: the “left-in-driveway-for-six-months” look. I rest my case).
For the love of everything, we have to stop buying our casual clothes at outdoor stores. We don’t look good at all. It’s a “look” that people cultivate because they want to seem “legit” (so I theorize), but what is less “legit” than dressing so people think they know what you do for fun and like you because they do that fun thing too? Bowlers don’t do this. Stamp collectors don’t do this. Writers don’t do this. No one does this but outdoorsy people. For dating it’s great because we can just trade each other in left and right and never know the difference (“huh. This guy at the breakfast table seems to have brown hair. I thought he had light brown hair. Oh well. Other than that all seems normal!”) but if you want something out of life other than interchangeable partners, do your part. Go to a different store the next time you need a shirt to go to the movies or to the latest “craft beer” event or even just to walk your dog.
We can’t go on like this. I want to know who people are when I look at them and there simply can’t be this many creatively bereft, emotionally stifled, derivative clones out there. Next time you just have to buy something to wear, buy something that screams “This is ME!” so we know who we are dealing with.
Don’t make me say I miss the eighties. Even Hypercolor was better than this.
* Is it this? Yes? Get off my blog and never come back. Ever.