Monday, December 3, 2012

I need new pants

I once worked for an exceptionally smart, highly productive, well-networked, and impeccably dressed CEO of a small, boutique economic consulting firm in Washington, DC.  I could drone on about the nature of the work I did for him, the clients we worked for, the happy hours he paid for, and the various characters I met through him but one thing that always impressed me was his impeccable dress.  He rolled into work every day wearing a perfectly pressed suit, shiny shoes, and classy ties.  I usually arrived in a more-wrinkly-than-not H&M button-down, Express for Men slacks, and scuffed shoes.  Sometimes I ironed my shirts but I mostly relied on the lazy man's steamer:  hanging the shirt from a hook in the bathroom while I showered.  It rarely worked but I figured it was better than nothing.  In retrospect, I should have splurged and properly outfitted myself but this was just the second "real job" I had --- I was less than a year out of my master's program --- and I was still clinging onto the "club hipness" characteristic of my early-to-mid twenties.  It wasn't just the presentation and the quality of clothing that differed, though.  His clothes appeared to fit well.  I thought my clothes, my pants in particular, fit like they were suppose to but little did I know how ill-fitting my pants were until I moved to Austria.  

When my wife and I moved to Vienna a couple of years ago I didn't give my wardrobe too much thought, especially since I was working from home and I could get away with wearing the same pair of ill-fitting jeans for two, maybe three, days in a row.  The cats didn't care and as long as I wasn't wandering around the apartment in the buff waving my junk at the neighbors, Lisa didn't care either.  It didn't become painfully obvious to me how ill-fitting my pants were until we started taking ballroom dance lessons from a local dance studio and I was surrounded by full-length mirrors for 90 minutes each week.  Nearly everyone else seemed to be wearing pants that flattered the lower body, not hide it.  There are many reasons for this, not least of which is the fact that Austrians are far slimmer than the average American so it isn't necessary to hide any unsightly chub underneath a baggy pair of pants.  Every week, I found myself complaining, "These are some ill-fitting pants.  Look how baggy they are.  And the bunchiness near the crotch area from the cinched-up belt isn't flattering either.  I really need new pants."  I think Lisa grew so tired of it that we went shopping for new pants just so I'd shut up.  And it sort of worked, except now I exclaim, "These are some well-fitting pants!".  My wardrobe still has a way to go --- I need to purge the baggy dress slacks from my closet and I'm not yet sporting Brooks Brothers button-downs (like my impeccably dressed friend and former boss) --- but at least I'm now wearing pants that fit

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