Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,


I used to go clothes shopping a lot more than I have of late. Part of the reason this activity has lost its luster is that I've put on weight over the last couple of years and even at my absolute thinnest it was difficult for me to find mass-produced clothing that fits me well -- and it's nearly impossible now. There was a brief period of full pleated trousers and oversize shirts when things weren't so bad, but a few years ago we returned to slimcut flatfront pants and stretchy tight shirts and tapered fits (called "modern fit" in one of the stores I went to the other day) and even if I were thin as a rail I would be neither flat fronted nor tapered. It's sad when I can't even find a sportscoat that fits (which requires the styling they call "unstructured", currently in the dustbins of men's fashions past).

It's also sad when I go into Eddie Bauer in search of their soft blue button-down oxford cloth dress shirts that they've been selling for at least 25 years and the salesclerk has no idea what I mean when I ask where they are. She keeps pointing me to all these shiny stretchy bright blue monstrosities with reinforced pointy collars and I keep pointing to the very shirt I am wearing which comes from Eddie Bauer and she keeps suggesting that maybe I should try something else. Honey, if you're going to sell shirts you should learn what the words "oxford cloth" mean. Thanks. Even the Gap no longer carries what I'm looking for, just some new modern fit almost neon-blue shirts with a too-small pocket and very flimsy construction. I had to make do with Land's End, which is very poor quality cotton and not the cut I wanted. Ah well. This is the universe telling me that I can't dress the same for my entire life as I learned to dress when I went to college, although for the life of me I don't know why the hell not.

Nonetheless I decided to fill a free Saturday afternoon with a trip to the Mall of America (which a friend calls "The Mall of Africa" in homage to the stupidity of it's actual name) because if the retail world still runs as I remember it this is the time of year when the absolute dregs of the winter and post-Christmas sales are available for amazingly low prices -- particularly the "house brands" of the various department stores. And sure enough, there were nice wool sweaters of various sorts available at Macy's for something like $12, and even hand-knit heavy sweaters at J. Crew were less than $20.

So I bought a few sweaters, but that's not what I wanted to write about. No, the real fun shopping for me, on occasion, comes at Nordstrum Rack, where old Nordstrum designer clothing goes to die. The key here is not to look for $60 sweaters for $12, but to look for $125 shirts for $40. I've picked up a few shirts here over the years in unusual colors or rich textures that always yield comments when I wear them and sometimes even positive ones. I don't buy much there, but these are the clothing treats for myself, the dessert after going to dozens and dozens of stores looking for blue oxford cloth button downs or cap-toed dress boots (available about once every ten years for about ten minutes) or all-white unadorned leather sneakers that will work for Morris dancing on flat-footed me.

What I bought yesterday was a Nat Nash shirt that even at less than half price seemed too much money for me. So I didn't buy it at first but later that night I called Shoppers Anonymous, aka mrsmurphy, to say "stop me before I spend too much money on something silly." Usually she talks me out of my planned purchase, but once in a blue moon she listens to the description and says yes, I absolutely should buy the item. (This service would be meaningless if that never happened.) This time she offered to pay for half the item, as a gift -- something we've done for each other before on the logic of one person saying "I'd pay half that amount to buy it as a gift for you if I saw it" plus the other person saying "I'd buy it for myself if it were half that amount" and two halfs buy the whole item.

What we bought was a sort of bowling shirt in heavy silk gabardine, of the sort of fabric that collectors of 50s shirts covet tremendously. (Usually they collect the rayon gabardine, since the silk gabardine is so rare.) It is also one of the 50s era sherbet colors -- in this case a sort of pale creamsicle. Embroidered all down one side of the shirt, in careful small chainstitch, are accurately rendered pieces of sushi.

Here's a picture of a man with the wrong coloring for this shirt wearing it (the shirt needs to be a more intense orange for his skin tones, I think):
Sushi Shirt

Here's a detail of the embroidery that also hints at the luxurious texture of the fabric itself:
Sushi Shirt Detail

I wish I knew what the Japanese words meant, as they could be something embarrassing, but I'm willing to take the risk here.

As mrsmurphy said, it's the shirt I must wear when I go out for sushi. One should always dress appropriately. After a fashion.

And perhaps a sushi chef can translate the shirt for me.
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