Just a Bit Outside

(with apologies to the lad from Shropshire)


“Now come on check the threads you wear


A public man should take more care


The crowd in which you try to shine


Is found in tux or Calvin Klein


How can you be so out of touch


Or say it doesn’t matter much?


Success is based on how you look


So read GQ and not old books


It’s image that the game’s about


If fair hides foul, then foul wins out


So as you head to this year’s show


Lest buyers there might think you slow


Armani suits and Gucci shoes


To ply for jobs from those who choose


As each king needs a courtesan


Best show up like a fancy dan


Forget about your facile rhymes


You must change ways for changing times.”


Sometimes my clothes come back in style


Though usually it takes a while


Still, I have shed at least one tear


So far removed from any peer


And wondered if I’d been a catch


Had I but got my clothes to match


I was aware of recent trends


But just in time for them to end


When ties were narrow, mine were wide


When mine were plain, the rest were dyed


I’d put them on and look a wreck


They’d hardly fit around my neck


In buying what I thought was cool


Sartorially misfit fool.


I’ve watched thin models on a ramp


Worn pants so tight I got a cramp


And I was told my hair gelled slick


Would cause my social life to click


“Look in the glass before a date,


Stop leaving love so much to fate.”


Laugh’s on them, the mocking many


It’s sure I haven’t been on any


Yes, work was needed on my mug


Far more than caps, a tuck, a rug


I lacked the look to put me in


My Cyranose, receding chin


And only had this homely face


When two’s best in a tribal race


Did my persona need a hat,


A scarf, a toss, a ring, less fat?


Yes, I’ve attended many balls


And felt like I’d worn coveralls


Or dined where I was at a loss


Among those sporting Hugo Boss


Shy shuffled there in gaiter spats


Amidst the cool and tommy cats.


Secluded from the staring pack


I could appear without my act


But heard my friends dress on the phone


De Toqueville’s right, there’s need to clone


Though shirts must never be the same


It’s tricky in this costume game


To be unique means Levi jeans


The product of an ad man’s dreams


We despair of disparity


I must be you, you must be me.


My friend, your garb is all the rage


You choose right from the catwalk stage


When wild is hip, for sure you`re bad


And so in tune with the all the fads


Yet past the garments that you wear


A sense a gap still lingers there


Adorned in body, not in soul


Still seeking more to make you whole


While shadows walk behind your life


You show your chic but not your strife


And fear that these are roots untrue –


In simple things I wait for you.


I’m not made for Emperor’s clothes


Or for lapels that hold a rose


I know where custom rules, I guess


That like my hair, my life’s a mess


For sure I’d get the old heave-ho


If I turned up in Savile Row


And what would Mr. Housman say


To see me pouting on this way


Would he not think me some naïve –


For doubting when I best believe?


Lauren does more than Shakespeare can


To verify man’s way to man


Oh, I have been to clothiers fair


And left my good taste god knows where


Yet laid out on my bed it seems


My latest hopes for dandy dreams


But then I saw me in the mirror


Despite new things, I still looked queer


The haberdasher’d tried his job


Heigh-ho – but I was still a slob.


My face, it was my old face yet,


And I was I, to some regret.


If ’tis stylish you’d have things be,


There’s better dressing lads than me.


Here is what I know ’bout fashion –


Wool – is what I get a rash in.

Copyright © 1999 Paul Heno

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