When my editor told me this month’s issue was going to focus on “your personal sense of style,” I got nervous. Not sweaty-palm and sick-to-my-stomach nervous, but the you’ve-studied-extra-hard-for-a-test-and-none-of-the-questions-make-sense nervous. You see, women are born with the chromosome that determines their style. That’s not the case with members of the male species. Style does not come to us instinctively. In my case, it was foisted upon me by my mother. Then, as I moved from adolescence into early manhood, my dad took over for a few years until I had a girlfriend and then a wife; the rest, as they say, “is history.” My journey of style started on rather an ominous note. After dressing myself for the first day of kindergarten, my mom looked me over and said I looked like the Irish national flag. I had a serious color combination working, and not in a good way. My affinity for being a style trailblazer continued through high school. As I look back at my high school yearbook, I ask myself with amazement, “Did I really leave the house looking like that?” I still think that my dad was playing some sick prank on me; he used to take me to the mall and would offer to buy me some wildly designed shirt if I agreed to wear it. Call it misplaced trust, but it only took one round of ridicule from my classmates to be cured of any further sartorial adventures. I haven’t been to the mall with my dad since. With girlfriends and later my wife, my sense of style became more clearly defined — no matter if I wanted it defined or not. My favorite Hawaiian shirts or other items of well-worn clothing would come up missing, seemingly to disappear in the washing machine black hole. Spoiler alert for men: this is one of the unwritten codes of women. They love to swap stories about how they were able to make your faded black, Bob Seger t-shirt that had survived many parties, three to four presidents and the Tiger’s glorious 1984 season, disappear like last Friday’s paycheck. So men, it’s time to “man up” and claim your sense of style. Break out those leisure suits, those old BTO t-shirts, dare I say, Dickies! Wear them with pride; just remember to wear them around your house. Oh, and don’t put them in the laundry basket if you ever want to see them again.
Pete Ruffing is the Sales Director at M3 Group in downtown Lansing. He and his wife of 14 years Brenda live in Okemos.