For better or worse, I think I unwittingly take some of my fashion cues from my grandfather. He whose house was painted a shade of salmon on the outside, with a lemon yellow living room.
He who wore a feather in a herringbone, fedora-like hat in the winter.
And, he who wore striped calf-length crew socks, pulled up, to play golf.
Old family and yearbook photos show a trail of my fashion faux pas. Over-sized polka-dot ties. Brightly colored jams. The infamous yellow-and-red "fireman's" winter coat.
I keep making similar mistakes to this day. It's almost like I can't help myself. Like I don't want to. Like it's intentional.
It's hard for me to find pants in my size (especially as my waistline is trending in the wrong direction). Not many companies make a 36-inch inseam. Fewer still make something that is truly meant to be worn by tall men.
Back to that sentiment of for better or worse above — I have found one company whose pants I love, particularly those they make that are meant to be worn on the golf course but which I've re-purposed for office-wear. I started off buying a couple of pairs in neutral gray and khaki colors, and a navy blue too. But, quickly graduated to pairs in yellow, baby blue, green, Black Watch plaid, and navy with white polka dots.
Yes, on the pants. I even threw in a pair of bright pink corduroys.
I figure, at 6-9, wearing a pair of statement-styled pants tends to draw eyes down, literally softening the blow of my height (and the accompanying, often buffoonish questions and comments thereon). And, at 6-9, I can either slouch over and shrink from the natural attention, or embrace it.
And, again, with the dearth of options, particularly those of any sort of fashionability not borrowed from either a late 90's rap video, a Wrangler commercial, or from Jake from State Farm I figure, why not have a little fun.
I'd like to think I toe the right side of the line between wearing fun, patterned pants with a bit of dapper, well-fitting, worn-right charm, as opposed to them, and me, looking costume-ish.
I try to stick to one rule, which is making one, but only one fashion statement with an outfit. Never mixing and matching, or making multiple efforts in or with the same outfit.
All of this is to say ... which is probably why I had a personal soft spot for TV sports commentator Craig Sager.
Sager, who died Thursday, had a certain, and certainly unforgettable, sartorial style.
To borrow from some of those who are better writers than me:
His "suits [were] crimes against color, coordination, and looking. I don't know how a confetti cannon works. But Sager often look[ed] like what you'd load into one. He [was] pre-detonated scraps of colored paper."
"It's true that prolonged exposure to him might impair your vision. But even more than he did five years ago, he impart[ed] a kind of joy — in being on TV, in being alive. That's ultimately what [his] clothes [were]. They [were] terribly, terribly alive. And Sager [was] so happy and comfortable in them. "
"What I think we all begrudgingly love[d] — [was] that [that was] the only self he [had], and it [felt] utterly, inarguably true."
And there's nothing wrong with any of that. It's actually all sort of enviable — worth adopting, or embracing, at least in moderation.
As Grantland Rice wrote, "when the One Great Scorer comes, To mark against your name, He writes, not that you won or lost, But how you played the Game."
And, in perhaps one of the most poignantly written tributes I've read on Sager's passing yet, one writer, himself a cancer survivor, eulogized Sager in print, saying:
Carroll County Daily Headlines
"Reporters, especially those whose job it is to ask functional, oftentimes dumb questions, don't get much respect from the public or the stars they cover. Sager, throughout his time at TNT, turned what should have been a terrible job full of small, recurring humiliations into his own theater, one he brought to life with his signature wardrobe and his abiding kindness and humanity. He showed how creativity and humility can turn any job, however perfunctory, into a performance."
Reread that — especially the last part so that it sinks in. Awesome.
Sager brought a smile to people's faces, sometimes just from the ridiculousness of his suits. But, he also disarmed them with a curious combination of professionalism and levity — the latter borne, or maybe borrowed from his seeming sartorial silliness, his dapper, purposeful self-depreciation. All of it intentional, all along. Maybe we didn't know it, or at least didn't notice it at the time.
But, do you know who else wears a bright red, pretty ridiculous looking suit, does short interviews, asking people what they want, making them smile, and making them believe, if even for a few minutes or a month or so out of the year?
That's not bad company — for Sager, or for Santa.