I had been considering a post about my tattoos for a long time now. I tended to go back and forth on the subject. I know you've seen them, a little bit, in Summer posts where I'm wearing tennis shirts. But for every time I think I'll just come right out and show them, I remember how silly I think it is to go out of your way to get people to notice your tattoos and I reconsider. Then I saw this post on A Suitable Wardrobe, and my mind was made up to just come out and mention it.
So there they are, in their full glory. Paired with a white undershirt and blue jeans, natural counterparts.
So here's the thing: I have a lot of tattoos. I don't hide them on purpose, and I don't flash them
around on purpose either. I have them for myself, and I don't regret them one bit. I've never been in uniformed service, on a ship or otherwise, I've never been to prison, and I've never been a member of a motorcycle gang. I'm just a creative type of person, and I like artistic things. What can I say?
Every year when the weather warms, I get a lot of questions about them. Given the way I dress and carry myself, people are often surprised that I have them. It's confusing to see a bunch of tattoos poking out of the rolled up sleeve of a blue oxford shirt. People don't know what to make of it. I can understand that, I guess. But the fact of the matter is, there's just nothing to make of it.
I have my tattoos because I like them. True, there was a time when only certain admittedly undesirable types, would have them, but those days are long gone. This may be much to the chagrin of an older generation of folks, and I understand that too. But these days, this kind of stuff just doesn't matter anymore. It's not worth getting shocked over it. I'll admit, there are lots of times when it's best to keep them concealed. But if that's the case, chances are that the type of clothing that would reveal them is inappropriate anyway. The post on ASW focused on serving jury duty, and being appalled at all the t-shirts and tattoos. I agree, about the t-shirts, not the tattoos. The last time I served, I wore a blue shirt, striped tie and a blazer, with all those tattoos hiding underneath. I was dressed appropriately for the occasion. That's where the confusion enters it, I think. Many people just don't figure a tattooed fella to know how to dress, or carry himself, or behave in a courteous and professional manner. These days, that's just downright ignorant, sorry, but it is. What they fail to remember is that the heart surgeon who saved Grandpa's life last year is as likely to be tattooed as anyone.
I dress the way I do because I like it. I have my own sense of style, one that is informed by the lessons of my father, my time spent in menswear retail, and a Boston upbringing. Some folks find this infuriating too, because I'm not a WASP, or something. But really, clothes are clothes. Race and religion don't really matter when choosing a shirt and a tie, do they? Nor do tattoos, taste in music, political affiliation, or economic status. Clothing should express one's personality, but it doesn't have to deny the aspects of it that don't necessarily match. My tattoos do not mean that I should spend the rest of my days in a Harley Davidson t-shirt drinking canned beer on the street.
Men's clothing has always been full of rules. These days, they are mostly gone or irrelevant. It kind of a shame, because knowing those rules really helps a man to dress well. Lots of them were foolish, but most of them existed for good reasons. Being married to a set of rules that is carved in stone with no variation or room for interpretation is silly, in clothing and in life. I mostly wear plain front pants, but sometimes pleats are O.K. I prefer an un-darted jacket, but not always. I like white bucks after Labor Day. And I have a lot of tattoos. It's true, I've preached on here before about our current lack of style and decorum in general as a society, and I would love to see a return of the generally well appointed gentleman. But I would never wish to see people sacrifice individuality in the name of being well dressed. That's not style, that's just conformity at it's worst.
I've always believed it was best to embrace all aspects of one's personality, that there's no reason why one person can't have several different ideas. That's how tattoos and a bow tie find there way into the same ensemble. In a time where young girls go out to the liquor store for a six pack in their bed clothes, nothing about what I do should be considered freaky.
Enough ranting. Tomorrow it's back to playing "dress up".
p.s. I have in the past had my moments of rage about A Suitable Wardrobe, but kudos to Will for including my coment in his discussion of tattoos and menswear.