Shopaholic: I love Target. I do.
As a stay at home Dad I do 95% of the shopping for our family, which includes groceries, clothing (for the kiddo, myself and even a lot for my wife) as well as the other kink-knacks we may need. As a product designer I love to shop and see what new products and packaging are out there. So when my son and I have enough items on the list to make a trip to Target we spend a good hour plus there, and walk the entire store, whether we need something from every department or not. It’s a pleasant store to be in, nice AC in these hot Atlanta months and I always find at least one item that surprises me (which I enjoy). Not to mention that my wife is also a designer and that her company’s products are carried by Target (AKA Target pays some of my mortgage) so I like to show them some love.
Another nice thing about Target is that they have a good rotating selection of Men’s clothes. Not that I buy very many clothes, but when I need something basic like jeans, underwear* or a basic shirt I know Target has me covered.
HOWEVER, recently I’ve been paying more attention to the “Graphic Tees” display in the Men’s section. I’ve always seen it, but usually I think of it as focused on the same frat-boy/post-frat boy crowd that buys the prefaded trucker Guinness hats that come with a matching shirt. Not someone like me, a late 30’s nerd.
You are only as old as you feel: Then last week I had that stereotypical Old Man reaction thinking to myself “I had that shirt when it came out originally. Do these kids even know what an Atari is or who the Goonies are?”.
Thinking back on it that night I started to wounder if Target was trying to reach me as a customer? Or was this “Atari/Goonies” stuff cool again for the younger folks like my parents reel to reel when I was a kid? Then the harsh realization hit me. Despite the fact that I did have a lot of these type of shirts when they were new, and still have some, I think I’m too old to wear them now.
When I see guys my age in these shirts I think: 1. I know you got that at Target and it’s not vintage (minus 7 cool points for you), 2. you look like you are trying to be younger than you are(minus 16 cool points), 3. why are you “buying style” rather than creating your own (minus 33 cool points). This is a harsh realization for a man that owns several Star Wars shirts that are in regular rotation.
So am I that guy too? I was reminded of a brilliant quote from a shitty movie:
“The men dress like children, the children dress like superheroes” -Ben Stiller in Greenberg
This seems pretty right on to me. I still like a lot of the clothes that I wore as a kid (not the 80’s stuff) and at the same time I love my 40’s style double breasted suits and fedoras too. Maybe I’m in danger of becoming like that friend of my Dad that continues to wear his polyester leisure suits to this day because that’s the time in his life when he felt that he looked the best or felt them most comfortable as a person?
At any rate, I’m not sure we necessarily hit an age when clothes become inappropriate (if you can physically pull it off), but perhaps we hit a mental state that they are. Now that I’m a father of a 1 year old and in my late 30s (and live in the sweltering heat of the South) I struggle to find things that are comfortable, not too hot, easy to clean puke off of and make me feel like I’m an adult that likes to have fun. Right now that means ugly sneakers with bike socks, cargo/Northface pants and fun but subdued non-mainstream Ts and perhaps a short sleeve button up over it. The real test is unexpectedly walking past a mirror out in the world, seeing myself and hoping that my reaction is “hey, there is a hip Dad” and not “WTF was that guy thinking this morning”.
So far it’s 50/50, but I’m working on it. And I still wear my Umbros with boxer shorts around the house because that is the most comfortable/coolest look ever!
*Side Bar: In all my years of buying my underwear at Target, and shopping at many different Targets, I have never been to a single store that the Men’s underwear section wasn’t totally mis-stocked. It’s as if a hurricane blows trough them and all the different sizes are wildly thrown on the racks. ‘Nuff said.