My Psychosis Regarding Clothing


I would like to take you through my system in regards to clothing because I’ve recently realized how borderline psychotic I am about it. I have maybe five t-shirts and five button-up shirts to wear over the t-shirts. I also have maybe four pants—two corduroys and two khaki pants. In the past, I’ve had two pairs of jeans and that’s it, but for now, I’m pretty solid in terms of pants. In the winter time, I have a lot more clothing because I can integrate three hoodies into my rotation along with a jacket. Once summer rolls around, I start becoming anxious, anxious because I have to retire clothes I feel comfortable and secure while wearing. Hoodies are like security blankets to me I realize. They’re thick, soft, comfortable, and nondescript. Hoodies seem to say to the world, ‘I am moderately cool, but not ostentatiously cool, and generally average, and should not have my clothing addressed because it’s normal clothing for a person to wear, and leave me alone, okay.’

I have a rotation of approximately five outfits, not counting pants. That’s because I usually don’t wear t-shirts by themselves because I feel uncomfortable—I don’t know why—so I only wear button-ups with t-shirts underneath. If I had to psychoanalyze this tendency, I would say it’s a way of putting up an additional layer of clothing between me and other people. A single t-shirt makes me feel exposed, vulnerable. A single t-shirt says, ‘I am a normal human being in comfortable harmony with the environment,’ which I am, but not really. I buy maybe two new shirts per year, and since I have a five or six shirt rotation, this leads to rapid familiarity. Like a cartoon character who wears the same clothes over and over, I become equated with specific outfits.

Sometimes I make guesses on who I’m going to see in a given day, and if the last time I saw that person I was wearing the red shirt, I wear the blue shirt—even if I wore the blue shirt on the previous day. If I don’t see any people who matter to me on a given day, I wear the same outfit again the next day, and the next day, and the next day until I start seeing people again, and then I start rotating my clothing again.

I sleep in my clothing. I mean, I wear a full outfit to bed. Everything except socks and shoes, so that means sometimes I wear hoodies or jeans or a fucking jacket to bed. The more I write about this, the crazier it seems. I can’t say when I started this behavior, but it’s become so ingrained into my daily routine, I see no reason to alter it. There’s a certain advantage, I think, to being able to jump out of bed and immediately interact with the world. However, it also seems weird.

When I visit other boys’ homes, I examine their closets, and it seems to me they usually have much more clothes. Sometimes, they only have a few more clothes, but they never have less. I recently had a male friend of mine present me with three shirts he’d purchased. “What do you think of this shirt?” he asked me. “Those colors look like urine and puke colors,” I said. “But somehow, on your body, they seem to work, they seem badass.” He said, “That’s what I thought.” He thought for a moment. Then he said, “The thing about new clothes is that it allows women to see you in a different light. Women who said, ‘No, I’d never fuck that guy,’ look at you and say, ‘I thought I’d never fuck that guy, but now he seems new and different. Maybe my feelings about him are new and different as well. Maybe I will fuck him after all.’”

This seems like an interesting thought to me. What is the optimum number of shirts? Pants? How many button-ups in relation to how many t-shirts? How often should new clothing be introduced? What is reasonable? I’m probably thinking too hard about this.

The thing is I don’t like buying clothes because I think of it as a luxury type expense. I categorize it with purchases like fancy coffee drinks, wall art, and DVDs. These are all things I can live without. I have clothes. I can keep wearing these clothes. But I think maybe I might seem like a crazy person. I’m not sure. No one’s really said anything to me yet. How great is the damage done by my wearing the same clothes over and over for long periods of time? If I truly understood the scope of negative assessments regarding my worth as a person due to my clothing system, would it be significant enough for me to buy new clothes? Would I be fucking horrified?

In some third world countries, people worry about having any clothes at all.

You see kids just wandering around naked because they have no clothes. So really, I’m being an idiot. In other countries, the most important article of clothing is shoes because it keeps you from walking on glass and burning hot gravel and shit.

A week or so ago, my shoes were disintegrating around my feet. Everyone I encountered would look at my shoes and say something along the lines of, “Looking at your shoes makes me feel grief-stricken.” They were too big for me, so they bent upward at the front like elf shoes, and the sides were cracking open, revealing my sock inside. They were also ugly, brown, and had laces so long I quadruple knotted them to get rid of the extra slack. When I finally went out and bought new shoes, I told my friend about this. He said, “Why didn’t you just wear your other pair of shoes?” I said, “I only have one pair. Why would I have more than one pair of shoes? Who does that?” He looked at me strangely and said, “Everyone does that.”

Does everyone do that? How disconnected am I from the rest of humanity that I’ve lived twenty two years without understanding the simplest things?

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image – Perry French