I was seven when my family moved from rural eastern Washington to the suburbs of Portland. It felt like a huge city to me at the time. The first day at my new school I decided to wear my Sunday clothes; black slacks, a button down shirt, and these little wingtip-like leather shoes. I arrived a little after classes had started. I walked into the class and immediately knew I'd made a mistake. The kid seated closest to me wore a plain white T-shirt, jeans, and Converse sneakers. All the boys were wearing jeans and T-shirts. I felt like an idiot. I decided to be a little more careful picking my clothing after that.
In Jr. High we had this one school counselor who cut his hair "feathered" like we did, wore bell-bottom jeans, a Polo shirt, and a puka shell necklace. Puka shell necklaces were the "coolest"...if you were twelve. We all thought he was a fool for trying so hard to dress like us. I vowed I would never do that when I got old.
The other day one of my teenagers chided me for wearing "one of those shirts dads wear when they are trying to be cool." So, the next time the family was out shopping for clothing I took said teenager to the men's section and asked for help picking something out. I was told that pretty much everything there was lame. So then I drug my child to the "young men's" section at which I was told, "Dad, you can't wear this stuff, it's for kids." I still don't know what I'm supposed to wear.
It's a hard thing, getting older. I look around at other "older" people and see some wearing kids clothing that make them look silly. Others wear stuff so out of style I don't know where they found them. I am beginning to wonder if it is even possible for older people to dress cool. Maybe I should take a clue from the seven-year-old back in that classroom. I can always just wear a white T-shirt, plain jeans, and Converse. I don't think Converse ever go out of style.
—John Fort · Program Coordinator