In the fashions of Lightcap land, "GQ" stands for "Goodwill quirky."
A wise man once said that when pondering matters of appropriate attire, one should always "dress to impress." I couldn't agree more, which is why I am such a dogged slave to fashion. Although I keep up with all the latest trends in snooty fashion capitols such as Milan and Paris, I tend to gravitate more towards the "downtown Goodwill store" school of fashion, which lets me stroll confidently on the catwalk of life.
The cornerstone of an impressive wardrobe starts with a few well-respected classics, basic togs that give a fashionable man a textile platform upon which to build a unique look. In my case, that would be Wrangler jeans and a full selection of T-shirts. Ideally, you should source your T-shirts for free, in which case they will feature "trés chic" corporate logos promoting feed stores, agricultural fertilizers and/or beer. From there, the dapper gentleman will accessorize smartly with flannel shirts, filthy baseball caps and scabby work boots, a sophisticated look that's guaranteed to make the lady folks swoon.
Since swooning is just another quality service I provide, successful dressing requires paying attention to the latest trends. I distinctly remember in the '80s when the most discriminating cowgirls coined the phrase, "Wrangler butts drive me nuts." Since I am still wearing Wranglers from the '80s, I can confidently say that my derriere is wholly responsible for any ongoing episodes of feminine insanity. Luckily, I've never fallen victim to any so-called denim fashion, including jeans that are acid washed, stone washed, or car washed. In fact, I pioneered the seldom-washed look. I continue to avoid Levi's, as they invariably give the impression that you've got room for a family of bobcats in the caboose.
As well coordinated as my wardrobe may be, I have suffered catty comments at times from those who don't share my vision. My daughter refers to my Reagan-era denim jacket as a "Canadian tuxedo." My authentic Waylon Jennings concert T-shirt is only slightly less mocked than my black satin "Kung Fu" shirt with the embroidered dragon on it. Most important, my wife has questioned the timeless appeal of my substantial selection of Hawaiian shirts, which have been unfavorably designated as haute couture for drooling senior citizens in Miami.
In my quest to stay up-to-date, I agreed to go to the clothes-selling place to preview this spring's fashions. I think the first store we went to specialized in stripper clothes, as it was primarily stocked for women with low self-esteem. The store had a men's section — there was a sign that said so — but it looked like they were storing more women's clothes in that area, or else they were catering only to French men.
Our second stop was equally puzzling. Did you know they sell shirts inside of other shirts, except it's really just one shirt? I guess it's for the man who's unclear on how to put on two shirts all by himself. There was also a rack of button-down shirts, which are a good choice for funerals, weddings or court appearances, except they had those little epaulettes on the shoulders, which might given somebody the mistaken impression that the wearer is a colonel in the Honduran army, which is apt to get you assassinated. There were various shirts with screen-printed electric guitars, flowers and stenciled letters that looked like the printer wasn't aligned correctly. I passed up those choices, too. In the end, I found a solid-colored polo shirt that I think will come in handy the next time I need to ask the bank for money. It's pretty high up on the "classy" scale.
This isn't to imply that I'm not above admitting to infrequent lapses in style judgment. I have ashamedly culled my drawers of some outstanding articles of clothing, many of which were older than my teenage children. My "Frankie Say Relax" T-shirt is long gone, as are all my denim shorts. My "Members Only" jacket is no longer admitted anywhere, and I really don't have the gravitas to pull off a linen sports coat since "Miami Vice" went off the air. Ironically, by surrendering these chestnuts, I found a new source for designer clothing.
Second-hand clothing stores are the secret to turning heads and making the ladies sigh in adoration. I have discovered some of the most amazing things: A hand-painted camp shirt with a hula dancer on it for $3. A red T-shirt with the word "SECURITY" printed on it for $2 (that baby's my back-stage pass for all the best concerts). A tweed sport coat with leather patches on the elbows, just like an Englishman would wear to Parliament or a fox hunt, for only $8. I may have the fashion sense of a brain-damaged gibbon, but I can get an entire new spring wardrobe for under $40. Hobo chic is "in"!
It's important to dress for success, but it's also important not to crimp your style or face the shame of old photos with you wearing ridiculous of-the-moment fashion. Trust me, Lady Gaga is going to hate old photos of herself in 10 years. Meanwhile, I'll still be contemplating whether it's time to retire my corduroy pants, and raising the bar for the most sophisticated hobos.
Henry Lightcap lives in style in Las Cruces.