Chris Johnson, fashion icon here, with some thoughts on the passing of Karl Lagerfeld.
Some of you who may not have ever met me may be thinking, “Oh great. Some super-stylish dude who dresses in only the finest threads from the world’s greatest designers is going to lecture me on what should be in my closet!”
Those of you who know me better may be thinking, “You mean the same Chris Johnson who once wore a striped shirt, polka-dot shorts and flip-flops to work?”
Those of you who are married to me may be thinking, “I’ve seen your side of the closet. I’ve thrown away your ‘comfortable’ shorts with the holes in them. You really shouldn’t be allowed to dress yourself.”
“No, really, I’m not thinking that,” she just told me. “I just said that!”
It should be noted that just a week ago, I could not have identified Karl Lagerfeld in a police lineup of three people if the other two were Snoop Dogg and David Allan Coe. “Um, I’m gonna say the guy with the tie. Final answer.”
I wasn’t spending a lot of time thinking about Karl until I saw a post on Facebook from one of my former newspaper publishers that quoted Lagerfeld as saying: “Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life, so you bought some sweatpants.” The publisher — now out of the newspaper business — went on to note that “I like my defeat in size M.”
Now, I’m not a fan of sweatpants, either — being more of a pajama shorts kind of guy, and I’m wearing my finest pajama shorts as I type right now. Let me check the designer on these. Hmm, Hanes. I don’t know if that’s Giorgio Hanes or Gianni Hanes — I get them mixed up — but he did a fine job.
I’m going to side with the people who wear sweatpants and pajama shorts as having a bit more control of their life than the person who wears an utterly nonfunctional, brain-choking tie like Karl would often do. And if you don’t believe ties cut off brain function, I’d like to point out that virtually every male politician in Washington, D.C., wears a tie.
My war with ties dates back to my first full-time job as a sports writer in Valdosta, way down in south Georgia. I was 21, and my pay was slightly below “extreme poverty level.” I didn’t have enough money for a $4 emergency. Yet, I was supposed to wear a tie while I prowled high school football sidelines in 98-degree heat with 110 percent humidity. I occasionally balked at the concept and would find memos posted to the newsroom bulletin board that began …
“Apparently, some of you have forgotten our dress code ...”
I was “some of you.” My hourly pay couldn’t buy a tie from Walmart. So, no, I hadn’t forgotten. I just wasn’t willing to conform to a stupid rule. “You mean I can have low pay and be uncomfortable? What a deal!”
A tie screams “I conform!” It has zero practical function. It’s a neck decorator. The only reason ties exist is so that kids can buy dads something for Father’s Day while they’re still too young to purchase what he really wants — beer.
When I see men in suits walking out of their firm or bank, women may think, “Don’t he look snazzy!” But I’m thinking, “I’m not sure I want a guy wearing a coat in 95-degree weather as a fabric chokes off oxygen to his brain managing my money.”
“Yes, honey, I know it doesn’t take a lot of oxygen to manage $27, but you’re missing the point!”
Karl may think you are defeated and have given up if you wear sweatpants, but I bet he didn’t make that statement from courtside as the Knicks were warming up. Karl had a right to his wrong opinion. And I’ve got a right to believe that if you wear a tie, you might not have given up, but you’ve definitely given in.
And, that, to me, is a far worse condition.
Guy in extremely comfortable pajama shorts
Get more from Chris Johnson at KudzuKid.com.