Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Neon Yellow on Grey Hair


"These things age a man, when he starts to understand the joys and sorrows of life. To find love and lose it. To meet death in its many forms. And happiness with its many faces."

I remember the day I turned thirty. I was actually thirty years, three months, and nine days old and it was when my best friend Vackie looked at what I was wearing to a party and he said, "Isn't it a little too young?"

WTF? I thought. "What do you mean?"

"The color. I mean, isn't a little too …  uhmmm, loud? I mean, honey, you are already of a certain age."

Gasp! "What? Are you saying that I'm old?" I  thundered.

"Of course not! Hahaha. But ... really, you're going to wear that?" he asked.

I looked at myself in the mirror and saw the neon yellow shirt I was wearing and realized that well, perhaps he was right. It did seem a little, uhmmm … too young. 

I have always loved dressing up. I like how it can accentuate or change the way you look; make you cuter or more fuckable. Wear glasses and be the intellectual geek or a romantic poet, a jersey transforms you into the hot, sporty guy, eyeliner makes you a rockstar. You can be mysterious or sweet. You can be anything you want to be ... or so I thought.

The kinds of clothes I bought when I was in my 20s have remained the kind of clothes I love. They are no longer generally the kind of clothes I wear, but when I see something of that nature on someone else or in a shop, I am drawn to it.

Bright colors used to adorn my cabinet: scarlet red, chartreuse, magenta, lime, and vermillion. I remember when the 80s made a comeback and people in Manila started wearing these hues, and the world seemed like a rainbow. My friends and I would wear layers of shirts and polos, bright colored Chucks and bandanas and it was one big delightful explosion of colors.

Colorful and bright; that is still the core of my personal vision of myself, as opposed to the version that people see, the way I actually dress and look nowadays.

Navigating the tricky path between the two is what dressing has been like in the past two years. If I feel anything about being in my 30s, it is that I look back on the last decade with fondness and nostalgia while looking ahead at the future with a certain degree of apprehension combined with a determination to enjoy it as much as I enjoyed my 20s.

This has been a crucial factor in choosing how I look. I don't want to pick a constant battle against the forces of time.You cannot win, and I am someone who picks my battles very carefully.  I choose not to compete in an area where I don't feel certain I will come out on top --- the arena of looking young and beautiful. Instead, I choose to channel  my energy into other areas of my life --- work, sex, friendship, and love.

Most people's looks do not improve as we age, and fear of the loss of physical beauty comes hand in hand with each additional year. The wrinkles start to appear, the hair turns grey, our bellies become bigger, our girth wider.  Wherein once you could lure a thousand men, you may find yourself being passed over more and more for younger, prettier things. A relic from an ancient era

Occasionally I catch myself in the mirror and see somebody I don't recognize. Especially on those days when you're tired, or lacked sleep, or well ... hung over. It is on those days time wrecks havoc with a terrifying power.

Though sometimes I wish I can regain all my youth back, I  have become quite content with how I look. Made peace with the lines in my face, the dark circles under my eyes. No longer am I afraid to tell people my real age.

But with clothes it is quite different. There are times I still want to wear what I want; but the question of what you can wear becomes more charged and complex as you age. And who is making that decision anyway? The fear of dressing inappropriately and landing on the pages of the worst-dressed list lurks like some ghastly specter around your closet. You ask yourself:  Do I really need another accessory? Can I still wear shorts? Can I still wear red jeans? Can I still pull it off? Is it ... too much?

I know that the vintage floral shirts I used to love now make me look like one of my least favorite English teacher when I was in school, rather than boyishly fun and appealing. Sugary pastels are definitely a no-no. More on more, I find myself choosing clothes of a darker shade. I head for block colors and checkered patterns.

Whereas once, you might have looked cute and adorable, you now try to be sophisticated and elegant. Well ... try at least, though you may not always succeed.

Still, once in a while, I indulge myself. Dress up the way I want ... just because I want to. After all, clothes should be all about fun, right? At some point, we all think we lose the person we were when we were younger and become somebody old. But we don't ... not really. And the pleasure we take from life, including clothes, reflects that.

So if one day you encounter a grumbling, grey-haired old man wearing a bright neon yellow shirt, well ... you probably know who it will be.


LJ said...


This post made me think about my wardrobe. Well, I always dress something that is not "in" because I am really not comfortable wearing something that people my age wear.

Go for what is comfortable, Kane. Also, choose the stuff that makes you happy!

Nate said...

@K: you're an "it" girl.. nobody tells an "it" girl what to wear.. hahaha! :)

wanderingcommuter said...

i agree with nate :-D *snap, snap* hehehe

dabo said...

there was a study that the grumpy old man was a myth.

the state of "grumpy-nes"s bottoms at 45 years of age and then starts to pick up again

sabi nila it's due to coping capabilities of a more mature brain

dabo said...

i mean happiness starts to build up again as we age after 45

cjgruet said...

Comfort, solid colors, lots of accesories. That's me. Lately though, for as long as I am able to survive the heat, I'm fine.

You look good in anything you wear. Serious.

Mugen said...

Vermillion. it's been ages since I saw someone wrote that hue on a post.

Yes Kane, the past decade always bring back nostalgia - and sadness.

♥N said...

Just wait until you get to my age.


I still dress the way that I want. That hasn't changed. What has changed is how I want to dress. It's evolution really. What we may have wanted twenty years ago may not be what we want now. What used to look cute on me fifteen years ago just looks tacky and wrong for me now. Like you said, you don't want yourself to be a reminder of someone you used to loathe.

P.S. I have a tattoo on my ankle that I got when I was 19. It was hot and cute when I was in my 20s. On a forty-something ankle, not so much.

Mac Callister said...

ako lately gustong gusto ko naka black. just anything black. totoo yan, habang nagkaka edad tayo nag iiba ang taste natin sa damit.

mas gusto natin yun sophisticated and neat looks.

pero feeling ko naman keri mo pa rdin mag suot ng mga neon colored clothes mo, ganda mo naman e! *wink

rudeboy said...

Well, Kane, synchronicity strikes us once again.

A couple of days before your post, I was just idly wondering what to do with the closetful of clothes that I bought and never got to wear, back when I was younger and no weekend went by without a party.

My previous decade was marked by viscose and body-hugging synthetics. Sheer shirts and tight synthetic jeans, shirts with interesting detailings and quirky denims, flimsy form-fitting confections set off by a buff build.

Sadly, said buff build is now a bittersweet memory, and so the clothes remain closeted, unable to be shown off in their full frivolous finery to the world. In their place, utilitarian cotton and practical, looser-fitting shirts and walking shorts have become my new best friends.

Some young gay party boy is going to be so deliriously happy some day when I empty my closets, he's going to be farting rainbows and glitter out his ass.

Anonymous said...

Sigh. This is very lovely. I can't help but to smile.

R. Burnett Baker said...

Great post, and I appreciate your retro/introspective! As you age you will become comfortable with your skin, appreciate where you've been, but priorities will dictate a different approach to what's "appropriate" in how you dress, and how others perceive you in those clothes.

Actually, Kane, by your late 30's and onward, you'll not remember three quarters of the 20's, and you'll actually wince at what you do remember! Twenties? They can have em'!!

As for dressing, I think it will come naturally, but your outlook will guide you. I'm not young, but no one ever suspects my real age. Genetics, I guess. But still, when I think I'd like to wear red sneakers, I ask someone younger if I'm too old for that! Ha!

Dammit, I want to wear red sneakers......


Spiral Prince said...

aure you sure you'll even grumble when you get old old, K?