My eagerly-awaited online purchase of a pair of J Brand jeans from revolveclothing.com has arrived in the mail. They cost more than a hundred US bucks even after a heavy sale markdown. They have been carefully paint-splattered, distressed and there is a hole in the knee I’m very proud of. WHY, you ask, didn’t I simply rip up an old pair of jeans? Because I don’t own any. (I have extremely work-appropriate very dark jeans for “casual” Fridays and nuthin’ else.)
What marvel of marketing leads you to pay for “artfully” torn, stained jeans?
So here I am, aged 33-and-a-half, with a very expensive hole in my jeans. Am I just another version of those paunchy, balding 40-ish men we see on the streets of Hong Kong revving the engine of some super-souped up Ferrari at the traffic lights in the city? Maybe they spent their youth slogging and can now finally afford the car they sit so incongruously in. Maybe they only look middle-aged, the product of an office “tan and spa”. Maybe they are exactly what us jealous others think they are – older men with something to prove of their libido.
So then how sad am I?
Not a wit, actually - I’m ecstatic. All those years dressing my 20s-self in suits. Work shirts and pencil skirts. Chunky, I-mean-business jewelry. Glasses. And at least I’m not Sarah Jessica Parker doing Sex and the City II.
JD still doesn’t get it.
People judge books by their covers. We can’t help ourselves. It’s why you see all these bus ads around Hong Kong of people in yuppie suits with hairstyles that don’t match. Do high school tuition teachers really need to wear suits every day? They do not. They borrowed a suit for the bus ad. That’s why their spikey, dyed, bed-head texturised hair doesn’t match the suit.
Alan Chan bus ad
Banishing Bad English In Suit And Spikey Hair Even As Teenaged Hong Kong Girls Swoon
Appeasing High Schoolers And Their Parents Alike
The bus ads speak to me. They scream, “HAVE SUIT, THEREFORE, AM CAPABLE!” And Brutus is an honorable man. I understand. I chopped my almost waist-length hair off into a pixie so short it looked like I had done National Service in the Singapore army one day when I hoped to redeem the Tony and Guy birthday coupon from my mum for some banking cred.
Errornomics – why we make mistakes and what we can do to avoid them quotes a study of National Football and National Hockey League games. Two teams switched to black uniforms during the study’s 16 year observation period – and their penalty minutes increased significantly. Referees, it would seem, also judge books by their covers.
Sooo whenever Rockstar starts a class or activity with a new teacher who doesn’t know him yet, I dress him in light colors (Yes, I can barely believe I do it myself. But it doesn’t hurt to simply not put him in a black or navy shirt for a few days, does it?)
In my defense, it wasn’t just Joseph T. Hallinan’s influence. In Yakuza Moon – memoirs of a gangster’s daughter Shoko Tendo talks about growing up a gangster’s daughter. What affected me most was the bullying she faced from the children whose parents had more “respectable” professions – bankers, lawyers – and the discrimination the teachers practiced against her in school. (My mother gave free English tuition to kids in notoriously tough neighborhoods in Penang, Malaysia when I was growing up, which may account a little for my “reverse-bias”.)
That hole in my jeans means a lot to me. It means that after more than a decade of dressing to build my credibility, finally I get to dress like I have none. Oh, and I'll showcase my fabulous paint splatters and hole in the knee with the diamond studs I bought myself while slogging away at previous jobs.
Splatters and hole however, will never meet Rockstar’s teachers.