Polo shirts, also known as golf shirts, became wildly popular in the late 70s and early 80s as part of the "preppy" style. Having a teenage sister in a private school in Pennington, NJ, at the time (and later going to private school in Princeton for the last three years of high school, myself) I became quite familiar with this trend. To me, it smacked of privileged whiteness and uniformity, and I viewed it with some disdain. Unless it was part of a gym uniform, I wouldn't be caught dead in one of the things.
Fast forward, and the polo shirt has become ubiquitous across various social and class groups. Still, it rubs me the wrong way. To me, it's now emblematic of middle America, and the middle class, white EveryDad, in particular (EveryDad being a far cry from being a "Daddy", if you know what I mean). Everybody wears it as sort of a "dressy" t-shirt - something you don't have to think too much about. It's boring, unavoidable, and apparently part of the national civilian uniform.
The problem is, it flatters me.
I went shopping this weekend, and it's always a chore. Being fat does not afford one many clothing choices. Being a not-wealthy, fat woman even less. Apparently, if you are a woman, being fat somehow nullifies some of your femininity, so you are supposed to wear extra frills, floral patterns, bright colours and bedazzles to make yourself semi-appealng, because nobody likes a fat, dykey woman. Alas, a fat, dykey woman is exactly what I am. I like simple clothes, decently tailored, in natural fibres. You can see where I'm at odds, therefore, with the clothing industry. Most of my clothes and shoes are designed for short men, which means they fit me oddly in some ways, but are at least closer to what I like. Believe me, it's murder tyring to find simple work shoes in a men's size 6. (Also, I loathe shoelaces, but that's another story.)
Yet, I don't want to look completely masculine. It's just that I grew up in the eighties, where men and women alike wore Doc Martens, men's jackets with the sleeves rolled up, Capezios and ties.
So, it was with this in mind that I remembered that some short-sleeved collared shirts I have are some of the most flattering ones I own, and I forced myself to try on some polo shirts.
Damn. They're thinning. They're comfortable. Is this why all the Dads wear 'em?
I'm still kind of mortified, but I'd rather be thinned, comfortable and clothed mortified than wearing long-sleeved shirts all summer, sweaty, and stained mortified.
Until then, maybe I'll just take up golfing. I hear it's all the rage with Dads.