One day shortly before Christmas, my husband asked me to take him to a nearby large department store and let him shop alone. I knew this meant he wanted to pick up a Christmas present or two for me. Which normally he would do on his own, but he fractured his femur in late November, which has complicated his mobility, among other things. We drove over, and while he shopped, I sat in a Starbucks and occupied myself with my iPad until he was finished. He mentioned that he had come across some scarves that were made out of some kind of microfiber which he said was incredibly nice to touch, but they were all in “man colors.” Not only that, but they were too short to properly wrap around his neck and leave enough tail on both ends to tuck into a coat.
This is a common problem with most scarves sold in the men’s departments of clothing stores. They are never long enough to actually work as a supplemental garment to keep a person warm in cold weather. I had decided some years ago that this is because most straight men never buy scarves for themselves. Scarves that are bought at department stores and the like are purchased for straight men by the women in their lives. The men receive the scarves as a gift, lie about what a wonderful present it is, and they may try to use it once, but it quickly becomes clear that the scarf is so short that while you can just barely wrap it around your neck, it keeps coming loose, defeating the purpose of bundling up with it.
This is one of the reasons that I buy my cold-weather scarves in the women’s section. Women’s scarves are always long enough to wind completely around your neck and have adequate extra length to tuck the ends into your coat. They are often long enough to go completely around the neck more than once (thus fully protecting the throat from the cold) and have enough to wind around the lower part of your face and still have enough leftover to tuck into your coat.
The other reason is that in the men’s section the only choices you have are “man colors.” Ugly browns, dull greys, some blues, grotesque plaids, and only very occasionally a red. Whereas in the women’s section I can find a wide array of varying shades of blues and greens and purples and yellows and pastels and jewel tones and… and…
I usually buy one of the purples. But not always.
Going back to the shopping trip: Michael was a little miffed because, once he realized all the men’s scarves were too short and only available in dull colors, he went over to the women’s department. But they didn’t have the microfiber scarves there.
A few days later, when I opened a present from one of my aunts, I pulled out the very soft, long, thick fuzzy socks. I’ve been wearing various kinds of socks with very weak elastic for some years now to avoid some health complications other relatives have experienced due to some shared conditions. And fuzzy socks fit this need while also being fun and comfy. These sorts of socks wear out faster than more traditional socks, so I go through a lot of them and genuinely enjoy getting them as presents no matter what.
Anyway, this particular set were in “man” colors: dark brown, black, dark grey, and a blue so dark you can only tell it from the black in very bright light. I was kind of surprised, because I couldn’t think of where I’d ever seen these sorts of fuzzy socks offered in man colors.
I get tired of having such a limited palette of colors to choose from when shopping for clothes. About the only time that men’s clothes are offered in other colors is if the garment has a sports team logo on it. Since my favorite color is purple, around here that means that I’m often distracted in stores by a rack of purple sweat shirts or t-shirts or jackets or something, only to discover that they are all emblazoned with emblems of the University of Washington Huskies. And they almost always also have gold trim.
The one time I gave in a picked up a purple U-dub jacket, I found that whenever I was out in public with it, strangers would yell enthusiastic phrases at me that I often didn’t realize were references to the university sports team until minutes later. So I never responded correctly and got glared at and frowned at a lot. Or random strangers would strike up a conversation with me about a recent event related to one of the teams at the school and I would be totally clueless as to what to say.
During football season, as it it, I am still occasionally surprised when random strangers start talking to me about the Seahawks because I’m wearing one of my Seahawks caps. But at least the Seahawks are a sports team I actually follow and can converse about. I attended a completely different university and pay approximately zero attention to the sports teams at the U-dub, despite living about three miles from the campus. Of course, for the record, I happen to live about a mile and a half from the campus of the small university I actually did attend.
For years I have been buying at least scarves and gloves and some types of socks from places other than the men’s clothing section of local department stores, and I don’t have any qualms about wearing these “non-man” colors. But I do sometimes find myself having flashbacks to the teasing I would get when I was a kid and was interested in playing with “girls’ toys” and so on. It isn’t traumatic, just mildly annoying.
Which isn’t to say that I’m upset about the socks. They’re nice, fuzzy, thick, and longer than a lot of my other socks, so they’re perfect for this colder weather. I just think of it as part of my “office drag.” Besides, once they’re on my feet and under my boring colored office slacks, I forget what colors I’m wearing.
Though as soon as I get home and switch into comfy clothes (and tend to run around the house in stocking feet where I can see them), I switch to brighter colors.