When my teenage son starts complaining that he does not have any jeans, and is wearing the same T-shirt two days in a row, I know it’s time to go shopping. I’ve thought complaining about the empty closet is my thing; apparently I have a competition now. Unlike me, though, my competitor does not really want to go to the mall; he just wants the clothes he likes, nicely folded and organized, to magically appear in his closet while he is playing video games.
When girls go to the mall they are looking for the shopping experience. For us, it is an outing where we can be artistic, adventures, original, inventive. We enjoy going through the aisles, picking out outfits, accessories, shoes, trying them on, carefully judging the transformation in the mirror; and repeating the process as many times as necessary until we are fully satisfied with the new look. It does not mean that the decision is final. We reserve the right to return the outfit for any reason, and start the process all over again. My husband claims that for me it is easier to buy a house then to buy a pair of pants. That is because I have to look good in the pants, which I cannot say about the house.
When boys go to the mall, they are not looking for the shopping experience; they are looking to visit the Sony and Apple stores, which would help them to pick the next electronic gadget, but would not solve the clothes shortage problem.
It takes a lot of strategic planning to dress a teenage boy. First, you have to detach him from the computer. Since it is nearly impossible, especially when he is in the middle of the game, and will remain there for unknown amount of time, it is better to do it right after the meal or homework. You have to narrow down exactly what is needed, and pick the stores you would visit. You have to park strategically, so that you would walk into the chosen clothing stores before you pass the electronic stores. Finally, you have to realize that time is of essence, and move fast.
If you think you know what is in trend and looks good on your son, think again. GQ magazine fashion editors and all these cool celebrity stylists should look for another job. The trendsetters of Kennedy High School know better. They can smell “the moron” from 100 feet away, and would not hesitate to give him “a look”. “A look” would mean “a thought”. “A thought” could either be an approval or a disapproval, but who wants to take that chance? So here is a dilemma: he wants to look different, but not so different that people would start glaring. In times, he comes up with a radical idea like wearing a jacket or a bow time, but then quickly rejects it: “Nope. Too much.” Buying the pea coat for winter was a courageous move inspired by watching British TV. Only a hand fool of kids was brave enough to do it. We were very proud of him.
The everyday “uniform” consists of a T-shirt, a sweat shirt, a pair of jeans and a pair of sneakers or boots. Jeans are the easy part – faded or slightly-ripped boot cut would do the job. The rest is much more complicated.
Since there is nothing interesting for him in the clothing store to look at, he is doing me a huge favor by standing in the middle of an aisle waiting for me to bring him pieces to look at. Most of the time he just shakes his head “No”. When he gets particularly generous, he would give me some hints by making a comment about the image, size or color of the letters, quality of fabric, etc. Sometimes he elaborates, explaining that he is not “a moron”, or not “a pornography star”. He rejected the T-shirt with a picture of an astronaut and a year 1973 written on it on the basis of its historical inaccuracy, since the moon landing happened in 1969. Another T-shirt was too fruity; a few were V-necks which did not reflect his personal style. Some stores, like Abercrombie & Fitch, we could not shop due to the owner’s stance on social issues; but now he was changing his tune due to losing a lot of business because of it. However, a few attractive bare-chested male models were the only good things in the store. Unfortunately, they were not for sale. Or maybe they were; we did not ask.
A boy in the clothing store is a very sad picture to look at. He doesn’t belong there, and doesn’t want to be there. He is hot and bored, and painfully wasting his precious time. He would rather be somewhere else, but he needs clothes, damn it; and his mom is taking too much time to pick something at least remotely acceptable for wearing to school. His mom doesn’t understand the repercussion of the wrong wardrobe, its lethal effect on his social life. One “wrong” T-shirt, and the reputation, he has worked so hard to establish, is ruined forever. Trying on the stupid clothes in the fitting room and staying in line to the cash register should be officially established as a new torture in Guantanamo Bay.
Upon arrival, the shopping bags are usually being thrown into the corner of the teenager’s room. The new wardrobe patiently waits to be moved from the bag to the appropriate place in the closet, or, at least, to be taken out of the bag and worn. But it’s “work” and the proud owner is busy with his homework. So until he finds time, the teenager would wear the same T-shirt two days in a row, and complain about the “empty closet” situation. Of course, mom is always welcome to come in and help out.