Lee Pitts: Come as you are
I don’t think this will come as a surprise to regular readers of this column but I’m not what anyone would call a “party animal.” But occasionally we do get lavish invitations that say things like “formal dress required,” or “black tie affair.” One reason I don’t attend such shindigs is I simply don’t have the clothes for them.
I am a simple man who carries his wardrobe on his back, makes few fashion statements, and firmly believes in the adage that a man’s clothes should never be louder than his wife. I’m not like President John F. Kennedy who liked to change clothes at least three times per day! Heck, I don’t change clothes that often in a week. My small closet is divided into three sections: jeans, flannel shirts and Carhartt. The only suit I own was last worn at a funeral 30 years ago, and I don’t own a black tie. I have a blue one and a red one and they were “accidentally” left behind at our house by a friend with impeccable taste. I think he was trying to send me a message that perhaps I should buy some new clothes, but I follow Henry David Thoreau’s advice when it comes to apparel: “Beware all enterprises that require new clothes.”
Another reason I don’t go to parties is that I don’t like to be told what to wear. The last person who did so was my mom and she finally gave up in frustration when I was in the first grade. Besides, while you might interpret the word “formal” as meaning black tie and tails, I take it to mean a newer pair of jeans, clean flannel shirt, a jacket that wasn’t made from petrochemicals, and a Resistol with minimal sweat stains. To me, the word “dressy” means I should wear faded jeans, white tee shirt without any sort of political message, and my favorite cowboy hat that looks like it’s been run over by a herd of scoury bison. Once I was advised to dress “casual” and the hosts were shocked when I showed up wearing blood splattered jeans and a ball cap that would gross out the tallow man. They took one look at me and said, “Not that casual.”
Well excuuuse me!
One time I went to a party where “sports wear” was the recommendation. To me the only true sport is rodeo so I wore chaps, drug a bell behind me and had a piggin’ string in my teeth. Imagine my surprise when everyone was wearing white shirts and white pants! I haven’t worn white pants since I was in the FFA 45 years ago!
I’ll never forget the time the dress code was “beach wear.” Now, I hate the beach, oh, I don’t mind looking at it from a safe distance but there’s way too much sand, sunshine and sharks at the seaside for me. So I wore what I always wear to the beach: jeans, boots, risqué tee shirt and a ball cap. Would you believe I was the only one there wearing long pants? I stood out like a prostitute in church.
Like I said, normally I don’t show up anyplace where they tell me what to wear but one time my wife promised some folks that I’d be their master of ceremonies at a local fund raiser. About that same time our weekly newspaper got a new owner, one who thought that our little burg could use a little classing up, so she kicked out the livestock report and the Sheriff’s log and initiated a High Society Page. This, in a town where there is scant evidence of anything that might be called a society.
The event turned out to be quite the somber affair and everyone there looked like they were either an undertaker or a banker. The women were really “puttin’ on the dog,” as my Grandpa used to say, and the new snooty newspaper owner published several photos on her Society Page. She wrote that Mrs. Smith wore chiffon, Madame Wilson was dressed in crepe and that so-and-so was simply smashing in a shimmering brocade ensemble. She described the men in the same manner, right down to what color their pocket squares were. Whatever that is. She then ended her high society report by writing that, “Master of Ceremonies Lee Pitts was also dressed.”