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the puffy shirt

When I first started dating Tom, I immediately began trying to expand his fashion horizons, but I shot out too fast from the gate. My first gift was an oxford shirt. It was a normal oxford shirt, in blue cotton, unremarkable in all aspects except that it had a ruffly tuxedo panel on the front. It sounds bad but take my word for it that it was cool—a casual tuxedo shirt, meant to be worn with sleeves rolled up and khakis or whatever guys were wearing on their legs back in 1999.

Our relationship was nascent, and Tom was eager to please. So he feigned awe/delight at the shirt, and then shoved it deep into the back of his closet where it rested against his pile of bootleg Phish cassette tapes.

I think what really stuck in my craw about the tuxedo shirt is that I could have returned it. I have written before about my talent—nay, GIFT—for returning things. I would have returned the tuxedo shirt, albeit pissily. But he said he’d wear it, and never did. Eventually, the shirt became more than a shirt. It became a sign of my generous willingness to help guide Tom’s fashion choices, and his ungrateful rejection of my benevolence. To this day, any time I try to get Tom to try wearing anything different, he drags out the dead carcass that is the Memory of the Tuxedo Shirt. “Yoona, I can’t wear this! It’s like that tuxedo shirt.” Or, “Yoona, remember the tuxedo shirt. I never wore the tuxedo shirt. And I’m sure as hell not wearing THIS.”

You’d think I was trying to convince him to wear, like, a cape. Or ass chaps. But it’s usually something completely innocuous, like a t-shirt in a smaller size, a size that fits. I just want him to try something outside of his normal casual wardrobe, which is either jeans and button down, or shorts and a too-large v-neck t-shirt. He always looks good. But he could look GREAT if he’d just push the envelope a bit.


linds. and tom, in standard tom dress

Last week I saw a blue and white striped boatneck shirt at H&M. You know, the type sailors wear. I’d been trying to get Tom to try one, for years. The last time, we’d been at American Apparel and I knew it was pointless to even ask, because it was hanging between some men’s v-necks cut to the navel and a rack of neon banana hammocks.

But this time, I felt like I had a shot. After an initial struggle, Tom had recently worn a t-shirt with a wide scoopneck that showed off a mantastic amount of chest hair. With that victory in my mind’s eye, I paid for the sailor top and drove home, considering my approach. I couldn’t make a huge production of it. Best to go lo-fi. Under the radar. To present the shirt as if he had twelve other striped boatnecks sitting in his closet.

“Hey babe,” I said, passing him in the doorway. “Oh,” I said, tossing him the yellow bag. “I picked this up for you today.” And then I went to the kitchen to start making dinner. But he followed me, agitated. He held the shirt away from his body as if it was a lace thong. “What’s this? I can’t wear this. It’s a girl shirt.” I began talking, fast. “Tom. It’s not a girl’s shirt. It’s a sailor shirt. Male sailors have worn them for years!!” Tom looked unconvinced, but confused. Confusion is always the first sign that Tom’s resistance is weakening. So I went for the jugular. “I mean, Tom, do you want to look like everyone else?”

Tom, like most men, has a streak of vanity, and I could tell by the set of his jaw that by God, Tom didn’t want to look like everyone else. When victory is imminent, you have to just leave it alone. Press too hard, and they can turn on you, like some feral animal. I walked out of the kitchen and went to water the plants at the front of the house.

Next thing I knew, Tom was on the front lawn, looking mouth-wateringly good in his striped sailor top. He looked like a Kennedy. A hot Kennedy, not a puffy one. Even better, he had a sheepish, tentative smile, as if he was getting comfortable with the notion of looking that fine.

And then my damn six-year old ruined everything. Finn ran over from a lawn two neighbors down as if his hair was on fire. He screeched to a halt right under Tom’s chin. “DADDY.” Finn’s expression was alarmed. “Why are you wearing Mommy’s shirt??”

Tom swore under his breath and turned back for the house, already pulling the shirt off his torso. I resisted the urge to kick my own son in the shins and ran after Tom. “TOM!! Don’t listen to him!! He’s SIX for godsake. Look how HE dresses!!” I heard Tom run up the stairs, likely in search of one of his boring too-big t-shirts. And then I heard another voice, hammering the nail into the coffin. My three-year old, Tate, stopping as he passed Daddy on his way down the stairs. “Daddy! Why you wear Mommy’s shirt?”

Tom stormed the rest of the way up to our closet. When Tate got to the bottom of the stairs clutching his Pokemon binder, I observed that his penis was dangling out the bottom of his Gangnam Style t-shirt. I couldn’t believe Tom was listening to this pantless freak, instead of me.

I eventually got Tom to wear the sailor shirt out of the house, but I had to use some serious emotional blackmail. In all, the process was very exhausting, for a shirt that cost $24.95. He says that he’s never wearing the shirt again, now that I’ve written about it here. He wouldn’t wear his calculator watch for months after I wrote about it. But time heals all.

And he WILL wear the shirt again. You can help by not commenting on this blog post if he does.

35 Comments Post a comment
  1. farah #

    This post really, really needed to come with a photo of the striped shirt being worn…. I love your little guys, by the way —- we really need to get our little posses together sometime.

    October 24, 2013
    • he wore it so briefly that i didn’t have a prayer, farah

      November 17, 2013
  2. From what lifeaccordingtosam says and the girl with the underwear-ironing husband (love that one šŸ˜‰ )and my own experiences: the T-Shirt and jeans preference seems to be an American phenomenon.
    Which is sad, because sometimes I would love to see my husband in baggy jeans and a plain black or white shirt.
    Which he would never wear.
    So I’ve talked myself into the idea that he is like a superhero in his business shirts. Ready all the time for taking off, flying to a client and saving suit-loving business.
    (Yeah, doesn’t sound convincing to me either.)

    August 27, 2013
  3. My ex-husband is European and he knows how to dress. Understated but with a flair that I could never achieve. We lived together in Europe for 7 years and I only ever bought him one pair of jeans and one shirt. He wore the jeans once and said they were too “baggy.” I saw him in the shirt once. I purchased both items at the GAP when it was still open in Munich. I came to realize that he knew what he liked (not the GAP) and looked good in it. That’s one of the reason’s I fell for him. Whenever he bought clothes for me, I hated them. I think back to all the items of clothing old boyfriends bought me and I never liked any of them. Think how men feel when we try to get them to wear something they don’t feel comfortable in.

    July 29, 2013
    • it makes me smile to think of a guy complaining for once that his jeans are too baggy

      November 17, 2013
  4. I think you need to face facts: any man who knows how to dress is either homosexual or — if heterosexual — a real narcississtic douche-bag. At the risk of sounding very traditional, it is our lot in life as wives to hate what our husbands wear and to expend far too much energy trying to remake them in our own image. It never works, and if it did, we’d drop them faster than the douche-bags. After 21 years of marriage, I’m content if his underwear is clean.

    (One small exception: I made him buy a custom tuxedo that I picked out. On the one or so occasion a year he wears it, he looks HOT. It makes all his other hobo days worth it.)

    July 28, 2013
    • i must reject your theory, joan. i know lots of hetero guys who can dress well and are not d-bags. i refer to these men constantly when arguing with tom about clothes

      November 17, 2013
  5. Lmao. This is awesome. I especially love this, “He held the shirt away from his body as if it was a lace thong.” My SO wears big baggy T-shirts as well and stained, graying tanks that just aren’t my taste. I haven’t pushed though… except once. I can’t remember why, but I think I was whining during my first pregnancy that I couldn’t fit into my size 0 skirt and the crazy guy put it on to make me feel better. IT FIT! And then he took off when I went for my camera phone… lol men are so silly sometimes.

    July 26, 2013
    • and thank god they are so silly. he sounds like a keeper

      November 17, 2013
  6. I laughed out loud at this – thanks!! I actually have the opposite problem – my SO is a chic Swede, and has been known to iron underwear. Sometimes I have to stop myself asking him to dress a little more like a dude… !

    July 26, 2013
    • the grass is always greener. i’d die to have your problem

      November 17, 2013
  7. Perhaps there is a terminology problem? Maybe you could point out to Tom that all you are trying to do is get him to wear clothes that are less “Talbotty”.

    July 25, 2013
  8. Hey dear, I nominated you for the Super Sweet Blogging Award because it’s always refreshing to hear your voice through your honest writing style! Take care, Georgia from Mckinley Milestones

    July 24, 2013
  9. Suz #

    My husband has a pair of pants that I affectionately refer to as his “jam-jam pants.” Part hospital scrubs (they are also light blue to boot), part snowboarder pants. Basically, pajama pants. That he wears to work. Sometimes he tries to pair them with a blue shirt because, you know, blue matches blue!

    July 24, 2013
  10. My husband won’t wear shirts that fit either, but I must say that I actually like it. I almost choked on my coffee while reading this so thank you for this hilariously awesome read! šŸ™‚

    July 24, 2013
  11. Read this 10 minutes ago and am still LOL-ing. You’ll be happy to know I’m not going to side with Tom on this one.

    I think I tried on that same shirt at H&M and, as much as I liked the shirt, it looked absolutely ridiculous on me. I just don’t have the physique for it. He looks tall and lanky and can imagine it’d look better on him.

    July 23, 2013
    • Exactly, friend. Exactly. The thing to remember here is that I want him to look like a freak no more than he himself wants to look like a freak. That’s why I haven’t suggested that he wear cropped pants, no matter how much I like them, as they would look ridiculous on his frame. And still, the distrust

      July 23, 2013
  12. Love this! I can so relate, but I never win. He will not bend. He asks my opinions on HIS stuff, but anything out of the norm…no way. Great post. Got a good laugh!

    July 23, 2013
    • It’s like they think they will get voted off Man Island if they stand out from the others

      July 23, 2013
  13. Sounds like when I tried to get The Husband to wear a pair of great chino capris. My Dad laughed at him and he never wore them again. He had looked really good in them… sigh.

    July 23, 2013
    • Nadal pants! I love those things, but then always remember that Tom is not Rafael Nadal

      July 23, 2013
  14. What is it with men and their desire to wear shirts which are too large? I have several make friends like that…although they are all single…I always thought it was just a single guy’s. Syndrome ha ha ha

    July 23, 2013
  15. Grayson Dempsey #

    I just cried I laughed so hard. Our relationship is the opposite, Jack is the total fashion diva. You two should go shopping together sometime – I promise I would wear whatever you pick out, excepting of course anything having to do with Gangnam style.

    July 23, 2013
    • jack does always look pretty great. i bet i could get you to wear a gangnam style shirt to zumba

      July 23, 2013
  16. Courtney #

    how about just a picture of the shirt without Tom in it?

    July 23, 2013
  17. Personally, I think linds looks good in standard tom dress.

    July 23, 2013
    • it can be a trial to have a best friend who looks good in literally everything

      July 23, 2013
  18. No picture?!

    July 23, 2013
    • you would not believe the effort tom went to, to prevent me from writing this post. forcing him to put the shirt on in order to photograph it, would have been unkind

      July 23, 2013

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