Back when I finished school a young man had three choices, one of which led after more study to one of the other choices anyway. You could work in blue collar, you could work in white collar or you went to university where you ended up hopefully back in white collar.
I found my way into the white-collar workforce, as anyone who has seen my handyman skills compared to my multitalented wife would well understand.
Of course Australian white-collar work wear was predictable, conservative and largely unsuited for Australia’s generally tropical and sub-tropical climate. Our fathers before us often needed to wear to the office the full suit and tie, a drab and very warm uniform best suited to Birmingham’s climate not Brisbane’s.
As a result if you lived in Queensland and further north you might have adopted the shorts and long socks look. Men in this work outfit always reminded me of WW2 diggers who so liked their war uniforms they strangely adapted it to civilian life. Whilst its practicality was head and shoulders above a wool suit it is now thankfully extinct and like the dodo not particularly missed.
Menswear in Australia moves slowly through its styles. It might be the weather, our Anglo Saxon upbringing but until the last 45 years or so men looked largely the same across different classes and demographics and being Australia, any man who dared dress with a touch of flair or individuality was immediately suspicious on many levels. Russian spy or homosexual were common comments. If you were unlucky you could be suspected of being both.
But of course the 60s and 70s came along and the world thankfully began to change and now decades later we are free as birds to be as individual and colourful as we can be within the work environment. Kind of.
I am at a loss why most men’s business shirts are even now either predominantly white or blue. A multitude of stripe, check and fabric options, collar options, cuff options galore but pity if you don’t like blue.
However the most interesting change is the appearance of the European fit aka the slim fit, plus the ultra slim fit etc. as different cuts of a business shirt. I swear this an occurrence of this millennia and was not known back in the deep, dark 20th century. Sure you had your shirt sizes and some manufacturers catered for longer or shorter sleeve lengths depending on arm length and not I should add, the size of your guns.
But in the body there was one fit. This fit is now called Classic Fit but back then it was the only fit. So if you were built like the proverbial bean pole the shirt would billow on you like a yacht that had blown a spinnaker and if you were an ex rugby prop or a man who liked a beer in front of and before anything else, well you might have had to visit that store that specialized in the bigger guy.
But for the majority of us the standard fit did the job and that was one less thing to have to worry about as you climbed the corporate ladder, had kids and embraced suburbia.
But then slim fit was introduced. Now some might say that this is the result of Australia’s growing multiculturalism bringing in people from different ethnic backgrounds resulting in a wider range of body shapes in the typical Australian male. But I know that’s not it at all.
It’s exercise. You see our white-collar dads never did much exercise. Mowing the lawn was exercise, golf then beers in the clubhouse on Sunday was exercise, destroying your knees and ankles in weekly hour-long squash matches followed by beers was exercise, but that was it. So Dad bods were rife, commonplace. If you will excuse the advertising pun they were the Norm.
Now we dads go to boot camps, ride in packs on bicycles [maybe that’s why kids don’t anymore], walk Kokoda, do tough Mudder, surf into our 60s, run marathons etc. etc.
As for foods and diets and supplements it is not just young men gulping them down but us 30, 40, 50 year olds too.
Get down on to the floor and give me a minute long plank while you try to imagine our dads ordering a beer because it was low carb. I have been doing it for years.
I say all this because when I discovered the slim fit shirt I knew I wanted to be wearing one. And at that stage my doctor thought it was a good idea too. For those who have not met me I should say that if they were making Lord of the Rings again I would be in the hobbit and dwarf queues when Peter Jackson called for extras.
Stocky I believe is the old fashioned term used when I was younger. Now I more closely resemble a slightly oversized bar fridge. But I enjoy being active and I went to boot camp and got pretty fit and despite my build I have been proudly a slim fit shirt man for several years. Until now that is.
Unfortunately time has dealt my ego and me a savage blow because this year I have had to go back to Classic Fit. Suddenly there is not enough shirt to tuck in and while I do enjoy boobs on some members of the human race I don’t enjoy them on me. These extras on my previously ultra manly chest are causing buttons to strain and wriggle room to be less than wriggly.
And the bummer is I am still working out and trying to eat well but my body has decided to telegraph again that old age is coming. And you know I can live with the grey hair and wrinkles and the funny way your white-collar worker socks rub the hairs off your calves.
I just want my slim fit back.