The last time I remember a girl actually being impressed with my outfit was in the 7th grade. I remember asking my mom to take me to Macy’s so I could pick out 1999’s freshest jawnz in hopes that I could impress my female peers and then awkwardly ask one of my friends to pass one of her friends a note that read, “Do you want to dance? y/n.”
The whole process took so long that we only got to uncomfortably slow dance to the second half of the bridge of 112’s “Cupid” before we separated and retreated to opposite sides of the cafeteria. To this day, I’m convinced that the only reason I was James Francoing up in her DMs was because I was rocking the sickest Old Navy sweatshirt with the one stripe that stretched from one sleeve to the other sleeve. Sort of the 12-year-old version of JC Chasez complete with cargo pants and white and Carolina blue Son of Glove Nikes.
Fast forward to 2014 and the only thing that hasn’t changed is how I lamely approach girls. My most recent fashunz purchases have all stemmed from the third most important priority in life: trying to stunt on other dudes. The first is trying to average 2.75 favorites on a tweet, mandatory girlfriend pity star excluded, and the second is making sure I don’t lose all my hair by 30.
It’s the old hypebeast mantra that gets recited in comments section in one form or the other: “Your Supreme foamposites will never get you laid.” It can also be substituted to fit any particular taste: “My Acne jeans will never get me a second glance; no amount of Engineered Garments tunics could earn me a right swipe and that cute girl in Proenza Schouler couldn’t care less about my Infrared 3s.”
It’s not as if I don’t care what the opposite sex thinks. My recurring daydream is wearing an Isabel Marant (pour H&M) raglan and secretly/not-so-secretly hoping wifey material who works on the floor above you asks about it. I tell her how easy it was for me to walk into H&M the morning it dropped, not fight a crowd and walk out 10 minutes later ready to flex (without saying “ready to flex”). We engage in a dialogue about Isabel Marant’s first foray into menswear and then I ask her if she’s excited about Public School NY creating a women’s line with J. Crew. And then the next thing you know, she’s moving in, we invest in Le Labo bedside candles and we're thinking about getting a French bulldog together.
But none of that shit happens, because I could be wearing that ill Old Navy one stripe across the chest sweater and she’d still think I'm a creep. So, instead I walk over to homie’s desk, talk about last night’s basketball game, have a sad desk lunch, send my bummer bros some links and call it a day, another dollar made to spend on gear that isn’t going to impress pipedream wifey.
To break it down, shoes always seem to be the clearest illustration of this paradox in my life. Whenever I’m trying new Nikes on my immediate thought is, “I can’t wait to wear these and stunt on some struggy dudes.” The ultimate irony is, of course, calling the kettle black. I send a few photos of my feet to my plebeian BFFs and in true Strugaholics Anonymous form they enable my purchase because, one, we all vicariously live through each other’s “flourish,” but mostly because we have little concern and are generally obligated to support each other’s awful financial decisions. The simple “coppp” response is enough to stave off a few hours of buyer’s remorse because I know it’s going to get me to at least a Level 4 on the influencer scale (on a scale of 1-60).
I’m not in denial here. I’ve completely accepted the fact that my social activities involve very little to no attempt at interacting with females at all. Most likely, it’s a defense mechanism—nightlife with my friends has become a reverse caricature of “I just want to dance with my girls!” and it’s literally three bros dancing terribly by themselves in the corner making sure no one steps on our fresh as fuck shoes. Girl, I don’t need to make out with you if my core homies are all there when horns drops on “Blood on the Leaves" and our alphets are on point.
As I age, my priorities have shifted. Like any young male who’s entering the twilight of his 20’s, I’ve noticed that the higher my credit score goes the less I care about how I’m perceived by the fairer sex—this is due to a multitude of reasons, but mostly some sort of displacement. After a decade of trying to project a persona on pretty girls, I’ve subconsciously decided to shift my audience to one that’s a little less threatening: My bros.
If I attempt the flannel-around-the-waist and cool-guy-wide-brimmed hat at brunch and fail, I’ll feel exponentially less worse about myself if my number one stunt target wasn’t a seven or above. If my primary goal was to impress a Bushwick bad bitch and she says something condescending, I’d feel vulnerable and lose my appetite and be hungry for the rest of the day and waste $17 on shitty eggs benedict.
Maybe it is that I’m an awful dresser. Or maybe I just haven’t found the right girls to talk with about finding the perfect scoop neck tee. But, as I would never go inside baseball on someone who didn’t care about sports, I’d never wax rare hemlines with someone who didn’t care about the intricacies of men’s fashion—there’s always an obsessional angle to anything. Any sub-niche of culture has been allowed to chasm into a full blown canyon with the amount of information that people can share on the Internet.
Clothing as a crude mating attempt has shifted into a topic that I talk about with the same gravitas and consistency as I’d talk about the Portland Trail Blazers or Kendrick Lamar. Important to me, but seemingly irrelevant outside of the immediacy of my social circle. The intersection of this prism is that the acquaintances in my life care about discussing the longevity of joggers as much as I care about the “Frozen” theme song.
Look, when “Work (Remix)” is on in the metaphorical club that is life, I'd rather ditch some inane attempt at chatting up a disinterested lady and instead do that thing where you find your friends scattered throughout the bar and sort of mouth the words to the hook. At the end of the night you go back home, fall asleep watching Sportscenter and then wake up to an alarm you set, trying to buy some sneakers you definitely don’t need, and definitely won’t get you laid.
Nickolaus Sugai is a writer in New York.
Read more of his work at Screenside.us.
Follow him at @nicksugai.