Column: Color-coordination is an aspect of fashion foreign to some

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 17, 2002

My wife and I are preparing to attend some big doings. Such an occasion requires dress tending to the formal side. This always presents a bit of a problem for me.

&uot;What should I wear, honey?&uot; I ask.

&uot;Oh,&uot; replies my wife, The Queen B. &uot;Just wear whatever you want.&uot;

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I know better than to fall for that old trick. I tried following similar advice before and my faded blue jeans, t-shirt and sandals ensemble was quickly vetoed.

&uot;Anything?&uot; I ask.

&uot;Anything within reason,&uot; comes her reply. &uot;Honestly, you’ve been dressing yourself for nearly a year now. You’d think you’d be getting the hang of it.&uot;

&uot;Huh?&uot; I respond sharply while heading back to my closet, otherwise known as the drawing board. I may be wrong, but I think I notice a bit of sarcasm in her reply.

Minutes later, I am resplendent in my best bib and tucker. I have on a suit with matching pants, my polished wing-tipped shoes and a lovely necktie paying homage to one of my favorite cartoon characters. I decide to parade past my wife, just to give her a little thrill. I even tied my shoes just to add an element of surprise. I strut up to my wife and ask her if she thinks the pants make my butt look big. It was a mistake.

&uot;What are you supposed to be?&uot; asks my wife. &uot;You’re not really going to wear that tie with that suit are you? If you do, please do not tell anyone that you are my husband.&uot;

&uot;Well, of course not,&uot; I lie. &uot;I just wanted to check to make sure you were paying attention. I have the perfect necktie in my closet. All I have to do is to wait for you to pick it out.&uot;

It is not just me. Most men are born without the gene that allows the making sense of something called the color coordination of clothing. Becoming color-coordinated is a Sisyphean task for us. My wife says the problem is a chemical in a man’s body called TCTS. That stands for &uot;Too Clueless To Suspect.&uot;

How do women do it? It must come from a misspent youth playing with Barbie dolls. Color-coordinated! I would explain this strange ceremony typically performed by women, but I really do not grasp the concept. I think it has something to do with not wearing a purple suit coat with stripes on it along with an orange shirt bearing polka dots. I must admit that an outfit like that doesn’t sound all that repulsive to me. If we are supposed to be color-coordinated, why do they make black and navy blue look so much alike?

I only had the small box of crayons when I was a boy. I think I would have needed to have had the 128-count box to really be able to grasp the importance of color-coordination. I have learned to appreciate the value of a necktie with 128 colors in it because it should go with anything. Who needs all the colors to match when I am just going to spill some spaghetti sauce on my clothes anyway?

I think I speak for all men except Elton John when I say that men have only two rules for clothing. Number one is that if a piece of clothing doesn’t smell too disgusting, it is clean. The second rule is that if it fits, wear it. Color and wrinkles really have no bearing on the acceptability of a man’s attire. You have heard of Casual Fridays? Most men are in favor of such a thing. They are also in favor of Casual Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. That is why many wives continue to lay out clothing for their husbands. Men do not mind.

This saves the male decision making ability for more important things like whether to watch golf while taping the baseball game on Saturday afternoon or to watch the baseball game and tape the golf. Or to decide whether putting pistachio ice cream on some SPAM makes it a dessert or an entree. Or perhaps as a sensitive guy, trying to decide whether to send your sister three birthday cards this year because you forgot to send her one the past two years.

Well, there we were at the big soiree. My wife wearing her posh dress and me dressed to the nines in my suit and tie. Yes, I am a fine example of color-coordination. Neither of us could be any prouder. I just hope she doesn’t notice that I am not wearing any socks.

Hartland resident Al Batt writes columns for the Wednesday and Sunday editions of the Tribune.