When I wear the same category of clothes nearly every day – as I am wont to do – I feel boring, predictable and uninspired. Lazy, even. Perhaps I’m not as dull as I think I am. Maybe it’s my signature look.
I’m retired and don’t have to dress up and punch in at an office, so I invariably select a pair of jeans (I have more than a dozen pairs in dark blue, stone-washed light blue, black, tan, olive green, gray etc.) and a crew neck sweater or sweatshirt over a long-sleeved mock turtle neck shirt. If I’m going out to one of my two volunteer activities where jeans are not allowed, I upgrade to dressier pants with ironed creases and a knitted cotton turtle neck sweater under a jacket. As soon as I return home, it’s back to jeans and a sweatshirt. I almost never wear a skirt or a dress.
Martha Stewart has a signature look – un-tucked big shirt over khakis or jeans. I wear those shirts, too, as an occasional variation of my signature look. The shirts hide a lot of lumps and bumps that, maddeningly, have encircled my midsection and settled in, apparently for the duration. I can’t remember the last time I wore my shirt tucked into pants. None of my belts fit. I am delusional, maybe, but I think the big jacket-shirts (a la Martha) hide the lumps.
A friend of a friend who is in her 70s has only worn black and beige for the last 50 years of her life. No colors. It’s her signature look.
Lady Gaga, I suppose, has a signature look – outrageous. Dolly Parton has a signature look. Cher, too. Steve Jobs always wore a black turtleneck and black pants. Novelist Tom Wolfe’s signature look is beautifully tailored white business suits. He reminds me of the Good Humor man.
Another friend – a man in his 60s – always wears an oxford shirt, a blazer and a bow tie -- a real one that he has to tie himself, not one of those cheaters. His signature look takes him to work, to church, to the grocery store, to barbecues and pool parties and fundraisers and graduation parties and high- and low-brow live performances of all kinds -- probably on vacation, as well. I picture him walking on a beach in his blazer and bow tie, but perhaps barefoot, with his pants rolled up.
In summer, I modify my signature. I have an array of long (formerly known as Bermuda) shorts and all kinds of T shirts – sloppy, holey, ragged, loose and stained as well as plain, dressier ones in every color imaginable. I like to arrange them in my closet according to color. At the far left are the stark whites, then eggshell and ecru, light beige, pale yellow, peach, various shades of pink and red, then the blues and greens and grays; finally, black.
The sloppy T shirts have words on them – places I’ve been. When I’m on vacation, I can’t resist purchasing yet another T shirt or sweatshirt touting the local attractions: Cape Cod, Nantucket, Phoenix, Martinique, Italy, Martha’s Vineyard, Sanibel Island, San Francisco, etc. I think these T shirts are my veiled way of bragging. “Look at me!! Ta daaaaaa!! I’ve been to Martha’s Vineyard.”
I love the sleek, classic, understated style of Ralph Lauren’s designs and I have a source for getting a lot of his stuff on sale. But I refuse to buy any of his shirts – or anybody else’s shirts with the designer’s name emblazoned on a pocket or a collar. I’m not comfortable with that kind of bragging, no matter how much I love the designer.
But back to Sergio. I don’t own one of his cars. I drive a Ford. But I admire a man who downplays his own appearance without looking disheveled or unwashed. Sergio’s signature look says “I am more interested in what I’m doing than in how I look. I’m more into conversation and exchange of ideas than in what you think about my appearance.”
I once asked my dad why men’s formal clothing was so restricted – black tuxedo jacket and pants, white pleated shirt, black tie, black shoes – whereas women’s formal gowns were so colorful, each one different and individually accessorized with jewelry and purse and shoes.
He said tuxedos were meant to serve as a background. The women’s ensembles were the main event. Sergio may be emulating the tuxedo.
I hope my signature look says the same thing.