On Cargo Shorts And T-Shirts

Fashionable man Noah Segan has some important words to impart.

The Author, earning his credentials. Photo by Jason Whyte.

Full disclosure: I am a stylish man, an occupational hazard. After my Balboa-esque "loss-win" at the Fantastic Debates to brother-in-arms Andrew Todd, my Geek Card is laminated and carried. Like a good gang, I got beat-in, not sexed-in, and with that, I share a few useful tips regarding dressing like a cool nerd.

One of the biggest crowd-laughs from our debate was when I suggested that it was more fun to get laid than wear cargo shorts and black t-shirts everyday. Trust me, it is, so let's discuss.

The cargo shorts are the most egregious. You're a nerd, which means you carry a bunch of useful shit around, like a phone charger, a notebook for your mathematical equations and spells, and an inhaler. Those side pockets never flattered anyone, marsupial-like and heavy. Considering how long in length these shorts have become, they aren't even keeping you cool. But you do need to carry around your 20-sided die, bifocals and snotty, semen-riddled tissues, right, geek?

I'd like to present the sports coat, also known as a blazer or a jacket. These things have four or five pockets, and they're made to carry stuff. But never, ever button the bottom button of your blazer. On two-buttons, it's just the top. On three, it's the middle and maybe the top, if you want that extra-sleek look. If your shitty pouch shorts are the remnant of a kangaroo, consider the bottom button a vestigial tail. If you do button it, which you still shouldn't, no matter how fucking original you think you are (you aren't), you'll notice that you lose the subtle waistline created by leaving it open. That waistline gives your upper and lower body some contrast. Stick to two or three buttons on your jackets, more or less being left to the professionals, like news anchors, characters in Quadrophenia and boxing promoters. You'll also want to button it while standing and unbutton it while sitting, unless you're one of the aforementioned local on-camera reporters or jaunty sports figures.

You don't want to carry so much that it readjusts the fit of the jacket, pulling or bulging. That is your jacket telling you to carry a briefcase. You're a nerd, you got paperwork! You got notes excusing you from gym class, maybe an AD&D Campaign (I played G.U.R.P.S, ever the rebel) and an entire tic-tac-toe game written in BASIC on punch cards. Carry those briefs around, proudly and properly. Even Walter Sobchak has a case for his briefs, his whites, Dude.

Always try and look like this. Always. Note the button.

The black t-shirt is a deeper issue, one with a distinct answer but a complicated arrival. Your new black t-shirt is like the [Any War Since WWII] War of shitty things to wear. It should've never happened, but we committed and now we're stuck there. Wearing black, like Johnny Cash and Annie Leibovitz, is inherently cool. You spill food all over it because you're a slob and no one really notices. Ninjas wear black.

But guys, it doesn't look good. It often encompasses you, like a formless cloud of nothingness, like a Uwe Boll film, making you look like a disembodied head, and not in the cool "Bohemian Rhapsody" video way. There's subtext to a crisp, deep black t-shirt. It screams, "I just got this," which may also scream, "I don't have many other choices," and that is inherently uncool. It's probably sort of stiff and whatever logo or lettering it has on it is garish and rough in texture. That black t-shirt generally adds too much contrast between your skin tone (any skin tone) and itself. These are the practical issues, but really, what that black t-shirt says is, "I don't give a shit." Not giving a shit and its sibling, not giving a fuck, are hallmarks of coolness and confidence, but like most felonies, are predicated on intent. Is the idea behind that t-shirt to show your allegiance (good answer) or to show that you have nothing else to wear (bad answer)? Is it loose around the middle, not longer than your schlong and kind of tight around the chest and arms? That means it fits.

Maybe, like this author, you have a short torso or a belly, in which case the t-shirt may not always be the choice. Keep in mind that the t-shirt, historically, is a casual choice, like masturbation and Netflix. Casualness signifies relaxation. Break the collar, let it get stretched out and worn in. Your shirt is strong and utilitarian, a hard worker, but also soft and comfortable, knowledgeable about where its been and capable of going anywhere. Basically, your t-shirt should have the inspirational qualities of the women you'd be lucky to attract. You make the statement with its fit, its finish, not just its logo. In this way, your t-shirt is like a movie, the sum of all parts, its editing, its writing and its execution. And yes, this author just used a t-shirt as conduit to comparisons between Better Sex and filmmaking.

Rules about cargo shorts and black t-shirts are to be ignored only if you're this guy, Josh Barnett, UFC Champion and ultimate badass. He's also a nerd who plays Magic: The Gathering. Photo by The Author.

Thanks to the always enlightening and idiosyncratically dressed style genius Nick Robinson for planting the seed of the phrase on the day of the big match.

Next up: A woman I loved once told me that shoes are the first thing ladies notice about men. I loved her with all my heart. Our love may have been the most profound of my life, you guys.