Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Don't get tangled in the madras patch

Almost every summer, retailers such as Brooks Brothers, the Gap, J. Crew and Polo Ralph Lauren, to name a few, roll out the madras plaid patch hats, jackets, shirts, shorts, trousers and other colorful accessories.

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As a rather frequent visitor of shopping malls and factory outlets in the Houston area, I have observed that those who wear madras patch garments are in the vast minority relative to those, say, who wear jeans.

Perhaps I'm looking in the wrong places. You might catch madras plaid wearers on the boardwalk or along the beaches, or maybe the golf course ... but even in those environments, such garments have long been under the radar of mainstream menswear.

The reasons are rather obvious ... wearing a madras plaid jacket, for example, evokes images of hobos who might not smell nice. The clothing conveys a not-so-subtle message that, as John McEnroe might say, "You can-not be serious!" Madras patch pants prompt memories of "Caddyshack" with Rodney Dangerfield as the most likely to pull the look off. (Keep in mind, he's the comedian whose shtick hinged on getting no respect.)

And therein lies the clue to wearing madras patchwear: The fabric brings out the gregariousness of the wearer. In other words, even the sharpest of dressers have to have a sense of humor. The goal is to have those who are looking at you smile with you, not laughing at you.

So here are some do's and don'ts on wearing madras patch clothing:

Do not:

  • even think about wearing a madras jacket or shirt AND trousers or shorts. Sandman Simms would have to shoo you off the Apollo stage after your five minutes of infamy.

  • wear another patterned garment. Doesn't matter if it's a tight stripe or a broad windowpane; they will compete for attention.

  • wear a color that strays too far from the color scheme of the plaid patterns. For instance, if the plaid is light blue and white, other shades of blue and gray will work better than yellow, orange, brown, etc.

  • Do:

  • wear a solid color that complements the color scheme of the plaid. Black, navy, and white are safe bets. Be careful with red, which risks making your visuals too loud.

  • walk with your head up, shoulders back. Madras plaid patchwear is inherently loud, so wear it proud. Even if you hear others snicker, that's their problem. However, if you show fear to others, you give tacit permission for others to embarrass (and for dogs to bite) you.

  • I don't expect madras plaid to catch on as a trend, which leaves a wide-open opportunity for any person with a confident sense of style to dare to be different.

    1 comment:

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