I was recently at a bar with some friends wherein I had the marvelous idea of penning a book that was to be titled, Hey, You’re Short! (The Fashion Report!): An Uplifting Style Guide for the Undersized Male. I was kindly reminded by my good company that I’m far too lazy to write a book and was repeatedly assured that the title was not only unfunny – but flatly atrocious. Fair enough. My creative crimes & determination deficiencies aside, however, there is still a mounting surplus of king sized fouls being committed by fun sized fools. I see it every day. We all do. If you don’t, just tilt your head down a bit next time you’re in line at the grocery store (don’t hurt your neck) and just tower in awe at the Lil’ Lilliput of sub-counter-level dowdiness.
But why? Why do they do it? What is there to gain from walking around looking like a grade schooler with a beard who just fled from a public school gym class? Why, God, on your holy Earth have these dizzy munchkins ran around perverting your entrusted free will by bedeviling us with their crass, thoughtless, tinier-than-thou draperies? It’s a plague. And while plagues should typically be avoided, I’m confident I’ve identified the source, as well as found a solution, and am therefore braving this Black Death incarnate head on.
“Denial” isn’t just a river in Egypt, nor is it just what happens to be etched in red lipstick across my bathroom mirror – it’s actually a wonderfully comfortable and gravely damaging mechanism used by my brothers in the Short Community (we meet on Sundays, have lunch, play charades, invite speakers – you should come) to ignore the realities of Height Privilege and perpetuate the false notion of “Universal Uniform.” I delve deeper into the subject of “Universal Uniform” in my imaginary book, but it can be quickly summarized as the misconception that “what works for he shall work for I.” Blasphemy. A Man of Height can show up to a restaurant still sporting his tennis garb and there are no problems. That’s because height on its own projects a degree of class. Pee Wee tries to pull the same thing and we’re all wishing we’d have just dined in instead. Sure, it’s unfair, but that’s nature. Remember: we may have been created equal, but now you’re less than shoulder-level.
Listen, the jar of peanut butter might be out of your reach, but the truth doesn’t have to be. Thusly, I have provided below a small list of crucial fashion DON’TS for – and inspired by – the many misguided vertically-challenged & stylistically-oblivious men I’ve encountered while just trying to live peacefully in may day to day life.
Most people don’t know this but there are two things males aren’t supposed to expose in public. One I learned the hard way in the Sbarro line at a mall food court, and the other is your feet. When a man exposes his piggies in public, what he’s really exposing is the depth of his laziness and the dullness of his personality. When a short man does the same, he’s additionally reminding the world that he’s the hobbit of society – that he’s a desperate, feral creature who tried to adapt to conventional social mores but has failed. Some of you are probably wondering what then, at this point, you’re supposed to be wearing when out on the beach. But, really, you’re supposed to be avoiding the beach. Too many tall people hang out there.
2. SNEAKERS/RUNNING SHOES
This is the one that seems to constantly cast me to the center of a storm of short tempers. There are three purposes sneakers are meant to serve: to allow sports to exist, to keep kids from complaining about being uncomfortable, and vacations. Spending your life buying the same pair of converse all-stars is too safe and too easy, but it takes a pair of big balls to commit to a pair of fine winklepickers. This rule tends to apply to men of all measurements, but there are rare occasions where a man, given he’s tall enough and maintains satisfactory posture, is able to pull off sneakers in public just fine. Sorry, but that’s Height Privilege, and Height Privilege is a completely natural and immutable phenomenon. Blame your parents.
Unfortunately for half my heritage, jeans were an Italian invention. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel half-guilty about it. We had another rough run with Benito Mussolini but I’d like to think we ultimately made up for it with Pier Paolo Pasolini and Ennio Morricone. Jeans were originally intended for factory workers, but eventually they decided that denim was even beneath them and found different lower-body garb to mine coal in. Shortly thereafter, the youth made the mistake of embracing jeans as a symbol of youth rebellion and, ever since then, that’s precisely the image that short dudes project when they wear jeans: immature little boys. You could make the case that James Dean was only 5’8” but then you’d be implying that James Dean was human.
A petit man wearing shorts is as pointless as a flat-chested woman wearing a bra. There’s no way you’re that hot, there’s literally less of you. I once read an interview with Vice Magazine co-founder, Gavin McInnes, in which he stated that men should always dress for winter below the waist. I’m a strict adherent to, and a habitual quoter of, this decree. Shorts, like sneakers, can be done tastefully if you’re a) of ample stature, or b) female.
T-shirts are for making breakfast and doing yard work. They should be either one solid color (preferably black or white) or a quirky vintage novelty tee. Band tees are acceptable only if the band’s period of most recognized activity was before 1987. A Third Eye Blind concert tee is a tragedy that’s still too soon to joke about. A Milli Vanilli shirt on the other hand? Have fun wearing it, but don’t let anyone save your significant other see you in it. It’s funny, but it’s not that funny. If you own a t-shirt from a hotel you stayed in or a restaurant you visited, let the fireplace take care of it. Any male over 28 and under 5’9” who wears t-shirts in public should be forced to travel with a booster seat.
If you’re short and wearing a hoodie during the day, you look like a child pretending to be a ninja; if you’re short and wearing a hoodie at night, you look like you’re about to hop a fence into a stranger’s backyard and steal a basketball. It’s lose-lose for you. Layers are the key to preserving warmth and refined taste simultaneously. Wear a belted coat over a blazer over a pullover sweater over a checkered button-down.
Unless you’re over 40, don’t even fucking think about it.
+++ MISC. ADVICE +++
HAVE DECENT HAIR: There’s nothing worse than a stump with a crew cut. You don’t have to look like a celebrity, but you want to send the message that you at least skim through GQ in the waiting room. Glenn Danzig is a pouty 5’4” metalhead with long, black, sewer-steeped hair. As a result, he looks like a fat raccoon hiding under an umbrella. Prince is even smaller than that but, since he has sleek hair and an eccentric wardrobe, everybody wants to go to bed with him. Recently, on a Facebook post, one of the manliest of manly men I know remarked in a comment under an undeniably sexy Prince photo that he would “do him like prison.” I think we can all agree that’s beautiful.
BE IN DECENT SHAPE: This one’s a little tricky because you don’t want to fully commit to any specific direction. Whenever I spot a short dude who’s too skinny, I want to get him in a headlock and tickle him to the ground; whenever I spot a short dude who’s too fat, I want to roll him down a hill lathered in pancake mix; and when I encounter one who’s way too ripped, he’s usually shaped like a U-Haul box and turns the shade of a radish just from trying to move his limbs. Randy Newman’s swollen trap once belched, “short people got no reason to live.” And that’s true if you look like Randy Newman.
BE FUNNY: It’s basically your civic duty. If you’re short and either way too serious or way too shy, you’re just begging to get your cheeks pinched. I’m so panic-prone, leaving my bedroom is like trying to walk through an electric fence of anxiety; I’m so misanthropic I wrote in Jack Kevorkian for president the only time in my life I ever voted. However, put me in a room full of strangers at a house party and, assuming my wine intake has been moderate, I’ll have every last one of those philistines purring in my lap within twenty minutes. Being social ain’t a gift, it’s a grift.
EASY ON THE BEARD: The most charming garden gnome in the world is still a garden gnome.
BE IN A BAND: Being in a band is perhaps the most potent steroid any diminutive dork could hope to score. The stage is the world’s greatest pair of lifts. It’s your pulpit and your songs are your sermons. Prince, Iggy Pop, and Roger Daltry are your pint-sized priests of pop and you should be studying faithfully from their gospel. It suffices to say, if you can help it, be the front man. Otherwise, you risk just being another elf at the factory.