When it comes to fashion, there is a gap between men and women as wide as Sherman’s March to the Sea. Women have “wardrobes.” Men have “stuff to wear.” Women have “accessories.” Men have “gear.” Women want “panache and style.” Men want “worn and comfy.” It’s as if women are from Planet Gucci and men are from Planet Savers.
I recently came across some current research involving women’s viewpoints of their personal wardrobes that has made me think that, when it comes to interplanetary fashion, we men would prefer to not boldly go where no man has gone before. Let me explain.
According to this study, the typical woman owns 107 items of clothing. That means they can wear three different pieces of apparel for over a month and not repeat a single item. Taken further, the possibilities of different combinations of three pieces of clothing in a finite group of 107 items is almost 200,000. That works out to be enough diverse ensembles for more than 500 years. Of course, some of these combinations may include all skirts or all shoes, but that’s their problem.
On the other hand, the average man has possibly half the clothing stash of a woman. That would compute to be half of 107, or 53˝. The half is probably the lone athletic sock that found its way under the Bruce Springsteen “Born in the USA” bandana. Or perhaps it is the half-disintegrated “Star Wars” T-shirt from 1977 that says, “Wookiee of the Year.”
But, back to the research study. At least once a week the average woman says, “I don’t have anything to wear.” Now, taken literally, that statement is not particularly troublesome to we of the Saverian planetary persuasion. But it does reveal a bit of overdramatization on the women’s part, especially coming from someone who cannot see at least one possibility in 200,000 options.
That’s because the women in the study said that they felt that 36 percent of their clothes were “completely unwearable” and could never be worn again. Men, on the other hand, do not have this problem. We feel that anything and everything is quite wearable, from the jeans that suffer from split seams in all the wrong places to dress shirts with see-through elbows. And what’s wrong with a pair of underwear whose elastic has gone from swag to sag?
That would explain why 64 percent of the women wind up buying something new for a special event, and 36 percent of those women wind up hiding their new purchases from their husbands. Compare that with the 100 percent of us men who can get ready for a wedding with a quick withdrawal from our closet during a commercial break. Plus, the only things we buy that we hide from our wives are eBay sports memorabilia purchases and pizza deliveries during football games.
Oh, and did you know that 75 percent of women have gone to the back of their closet and found clothes they forgot they had? The only clothes we men can’t find are the stuff our wives have hidden from us because they don’t want to be seen with us wearing them. I once found a pair of my favorite pants sitting in the paint clothes bin. Evidently my wife took them out of the lineup because, according to her, they looked “dilapidated and scruffy.” Geesh, if that’s the case, I don’t think I’m too far from landing in that bin myself.
Now, I’m not trying to diminish the luster of the fairer sex. I just wanted to point out that there is a grand difference between the feminine approach to wardrobe management and our manly modus clothus.
It seems to me to be somewhat of a miracle that both our planets have even achieved shared orbits in the first place. I suppose an intermittent fashion fender-bender between us is inevitable. So, ladies, we’ll put up with your wardrobe idiosyncrasies if you just keep your hands off our saggy underwear. Deal?
• Michael Penkava is a retired teacher who taught for 35 years at West Elementary School in Crystal Lake. He woke up this morning and couldn’t find anything to wear, so he just wore his Chicago Blackhawks jammies all day. Tatty, yet with a locker room chicness. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.