Clothes don’t make The Dude


‘”But those are my favorite pants!” And other tales of sartorial splendor’

I made two Jitney drop-off trips yesterday. One in the morning so my Middle Younger Brother Roger and his wife Nobody-Doesn’t-Like-Jenn could spend a steamy day sightseeing in the City. The other was in the evening so that The Dude could spend a steamy week slaving in his office.

The Jitney, in case you’re not a New York City Area Reader, is a conveyance upon which many people travel back and forth to The Hamptons. You have to make a reservation to ride it, and they give you a thing of water and a teensy pack of nuts, but it’s basically a bus. They call it a ‘jitney’ because New Yorkers, well, are New Yorkers.

If it looks like a bus and rides like a bus, it’s an, um, jitney

Now, you’re probably wondering why I’m talking about the Jitney when the title (and hunky photo at the top) is about The Dude and his wardrobe. Well, hold your horses. I’m getting there.

See, The Dude has a very, let’s say, ‘practical’ attitude toward dressing. He will only wear something if it is ‘comfortable’. (I guess there’s nothing more comfortable than nothing, which is why that picture at the top shows him decidedly underdressed.)

The Dude, demonstrating his signature style. And accessorized quite nicely

The Dude, demonstrating his signature style. Accessorized quite nicely

But when The Dude does deign to wear clothes, they tend to be ‘whatever’s in the front of the closet’, ‘whatever’s on top in the dresser drawer’, and, especially out in Amagansett, ‘whatever’s (sort of) clean’.

He also, bless his heart, does not think about whether his shirt ‘goes with’ his tie or whether his socks ‘match’ his pants — or anything, for that matter. He showed up for a date way back when wearing a brown double-knit tie, green (high-water) cords, a pink short-sleeve dress shirt, and Corfam loafers in a rather unfortunate shade of orangey-brown.

He also wore gray socks. Only gray socks. Because, he told me, gray socks ‘go with everything’. I must admit, compared to the dapper French-speaking Belgian (they are called Walloons, in case you were wondering, and trust me, there is a story there) I had recently dated, who organized his sock drawer by color, I found The Dude’s attitude rather refreshing. Besides, a doctor’s coat hides a multitude of sartorial sins.

Anyway. I looked past the cover to the book. Or something like that. But after we did get married, in addition to mixing up his dresser drawers so the stuff on the bottom didn’t get fused and impacted into geological strata, I tried to, let’s say, prune his wardrobe a little.

I went through his clothes, separating the wheat (things that I liked, naturally) from the chaff (horrible colors, things with rips, tears and/or stains) to give to Good Will (as if they would want this stuff).

Then I asked him to check my sorting job. (Trust me, I was tempted not to ask and just toss, but honor — and fear of retribution –prevented me.)

Sigh of relief. He approved my choices (or should I say, my ‘rejects’). Except for this pair of orange bell-bottoms. (Yes, I said orange, and I don’t mean ‘burnt umber’.) In addition to being orange, they were size 28. He is a skinny one, my Dude, but the legs on those pants were about as wide as shirtsleeves. Except for the bell-bottom parts, of course.

So I ask, ‘Why do you want to keep those?‘ To which he replied, ‘Those are my favorite pants.’

Then I asked, quite reasonably I thought, ‘If those are your favorite pants, why have I never seen you wear them?’ (Oh, did I mention that the tags — including that sewn-on cardboard patch they put over the pocket — were still intact on those orange pants?)

The pants went to Good Will. I can only wonder who’s (not) wearing them now.

No doubt that was The Dude's favorite shirt, back in the day

No doubt that was The Dude’s favorite shirt, back in the day. No, I didn’t see it when I was going through his stuff

I could go on and on about The Dude and his lovable clothing quirks. But time is short, and this post is getting long.

So, back to the Jitney. Did I mention that riding the Jitney is a very popular method of City-to-Hamptons transportation? Because it is so popular, it can be incredibly annoying. Mainly because it’s packed. And packed with, um, New Yorkers. New Yorkers eating smelly food, listening to too-loud music through inadequate earphones, and talking in gratingly voluble voices (often on their phones, which is strictly forbidden, as if they care).

Annoying noises. Just one of many downsides of a crowded jitney ride

Annoying noises. Just one of many downsides of a crowded jitney ride

I once was seated next to a woman reading the latest Harry Potter to her son and doing all the voices. This was at, like, 11:30 at night. But this is not my story; back to The Dude.

One Friday night I was doing my usual pick-up-The-Dude-from-the-Jitney run in Amagansett and almost pretended I didn’t know him and drove right on by. Because there he was, attired for the ride in (from bottom to top): tube socks with velcro-strapped sandals, gym shorts, a favorite faded Escher tee, and, the piece de resistance, a miner’s lamp strapped to his head.

My mother (for some wacky reason), wearing a miner's lamp. (I don't have a photo of The Dude wearing his)

My mother (for some wacky reason), wearing a miner’s lamp. (I don’t have a photo of The Dude wearing his)

In spite of the fact that I almost didn’t claim him, he was smiling. I asked why, after a hours-late, stuck-in-traffic, super-horrible packed-to-the-gills Friday-night Jitney ride, he looked so happy.

‘The bus (notice he calls it a ‘bus’) was really crowded,’ he said. ‘But no one sat next to me.’

Amagansett, New York. August 2016

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48 thoughts on “Clothes don’t make The Dude

  1. I literally did a double take at the pic of the holy shirt. For a moment I thought maybe he was rockin’ an avant garde look. I love that the pants still had the cardboard tag! Brings back memories!

  2. Unbound Roots

    I appreciate this post SO much! It made me smile, especially since I recently went through my husband’s wardrobe to get rid of most of his clothes from HIGH SCHOOL. I thought I better do it when he wore a pair of shorts from high school this past fall, and they hung so sadly that I was surprised he didn’t notice. He did say, “yeah, they feel a little loose.” 🙂

    • Wow! At least your husband’s shorts were too BIG. Though Dudeman is not a Fatman, he’s definitely put on a few libs and ozzes since high school. (Though I did not know him then, I’ve seen pics, and they’re pretty hubba-hubba.) Thanks for chiming in, Unbound!

  3. josypheen

    I’ve never heard of a Jitney, so I am glad you explained it! Yay that they give you nuts and a drink. I wonder if they still do that now so many people have allergies!?

    I like the sound of the dude’s wardrobe, apart from the grey socks. My other half has amazing socks (normally bright colours or crazy patterns.) It’s one of the things I love about him.

    We had a friend come to visit us last week and my phone was on silent so i didn’t hear the doorbell (it’s linked to my phone) BUT he could see Marcs socks from the street, so he came and knocked on our window! He totally found our flat due to socks!! Our blinds were down about halfway, so he couldn’t see us, just the socks!

  4. OMG. I have a Wayne too. And, when I first started dating him, we had to go do a little shopping, as all he owned were Grandpa Pants (even worse than Dad Jeans). I blame his previous girlfriends.

    Also, I saw my dad yesterday and I was shocked that he was wearing Old Man Shoes. You know the kind-they are MASSIVE, Velcro, and their pants get hung up on them. He’s officially elderly now.

    Men and their fashion sense! ???

  5. judy d robbins

    Re-read and re-identified, Alice. When I met my future husband, one of his favorite outfits was a pair of striped, knit bellbottoms and a knit vest without a shirt underneath. It’s a miracle we survived.

    • OMG! You totally win the Best (Not) Dressed Hub Award! (hmmm, that sounds a little ‘funny’, but oh well). It’s certainly fortunate we both can judge a book (or boy) without its cover, isn’t it? (hmmm, that sounds ‘funny’ too; I give up)

  6. Neil loves band t-shirts, and t-shirts with penguins on them. And well, other t-shirts. Dude has 3 pairs of jeans. However, in true cliched fashion, he looks excellent in a kilt.

    I know someone who culled her husband’s wardrobe once. She is now divorced.

    I’m glad you’re not divorced.

    • Most excellent comment, LKD. I am having fun picturing Neil in a penguin t-shirt and a kilt. Funny about kilts — I find that men look incredibly attractive in them. Kind of like when they wear black tie. Thanks for reading, and commenting!

  7. Haha I love this post (as I love all your posts, of course). I would have LOVED to see a picture of the orange bell bottoms. You know, his fashion choices really seem to have worked out for The Dude: he snagged you and avoided annoying seat mates. I’d call that a win-win!

    • Aw, Becca. Flattery will get you everywhere! Thank you for your positive feedback. And yes, I’m still kicking myself for not getting photo evidence of the existence of those orange pants (!)

  8. Very funny and clearly there is eccentric methodology at work. Especially if folk actively choose not to sit next to him on the bus! But huge orange pants seem a tad OTT. Are you certain there was not a master plan involved to get you to sort things and him just to nod and say yes, with the random “But, those are my favourites” just to make it look authentic??? FAB post 🙂

    • Thanks, Gary! Sounds like you know The Dude, master plan and all! The funniest thing about him, though — aside from the orange pants — is that he doesn’t realize how funny he is (!)

      • Its a veritable skill of mine and born form people watching and listening rather than judging. With writing, you can almost do the same if its well written like this. Mind you, if he doesn’t know he is funny then you really have caught a good one there in my opinion. They are natural humour mongers and don’t try to do it to impress, simply because they have no idea they are doing it!!

  9. angelanoelauthor

    Oh my gosh, that’s hilarious! He’s got a strategy and it worked! I can absolutely imagine my husband doing something similar and chuckling at himself the whole time. I really enjoy the tone of your writing, so conversational and engaging. Thanks for the post!

  10. I love hearing about real life in New York! The Jitney sounds great- I mean, come on….peanuts and water? That’s way more than a ‘bus’! The Dude’s fashion selections sound epic. Socks and sandles, shorts and a miners torch. Brilliant. Now I know how to dress to get peace on public transport! Thanks for joining the #weekendblogshare

    • Sometimes they give you pretzels and water! I’m sure you’d be treated kindly on the ‘bus’…even if you didn’t sport sandals and socks! Thanks for reading and commenting — and, of course — thank you so much for hosting #weekendblogshare (!)

  11. mamasick

    Great story! My boyfriend is also “wardrobe challenged” but I decided I love him more than I dislike his strange clothes. Stopping by from weekend blog share.

    • So glad I could inspire a LOL! And, as you know The Dude personally, you shouldn’t be surprised one bit by this story! Thx so much for sharing your scuba movie. You are the only person I know who looks glamorous dressed in neoprene and breathing through a tube! xoxo

    • He couldn’t have managed better if he’d planned it! And yes, my face was a study when I spotted him from the safety of my Toyota! Thanks for weighing in, Ruth. Especially since Harold always looks so natty (!)

  12. I am chuckling out loud here, Alice. Yes, yes and yes – the writing and the subject. I bet he is a good sport through all this winnowing and writing. I did actually throw something out a few months ago without asking – a leather bag so dry it crackled. He has not missed it yet. He still proudly wears his “pot shorts”, the one with marijuana leaves that he thought were pineapples when he bought them. So enjoy your stories and a jitney was a very common term back in England, where I am not from.

    • I want his ‘pot shorts’!!! Seriously, The Dude also once owned a leather hat. I never saw this item with my own eyes, but I bet it would be ‘crackling’ by now too. Thanks for mentioning the ‘Englishness’ of ‘jitney’. Now I know why New Yorkers love the term so. xoxo

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