I am 5’7”, 140 pounds, and I love fall. Especially on the east coast. It’s a great time for me: my birthday, the weather, the food, and the styles bring about my own change. Fall tends to remind me of the transformative nature of fashion.
The fall brings clothes that somehow make me feel and look like more than I am. A nicely constructed coat emphasizes that I have broad shoulders; a nice scarf makes less of my baby face or brings attention to my jawline, depending on how cold it is; boots give me a little bit of a boost; and, for whatever reason, I look really good in mustard. All of these things work together to make me look like the twenty-something that I am instead of someone’s little brother who tagged along to the party.
In high school I once had a coach who looked me up and down one day. “You’re lucky,” he said. “You’re not going to go bald. Men with thicker hair tend to make more money than bald men. It’s too bad you’re short.” While I’m not going to get into whatever issues may have plagued my old coach, that was the first time that someone was able to verbalize to me what I had noticed for years, that there is a power bias that favors height. Short men are funny and non-threatening, tall men are leaders. I get it, it’s an understandable bias: power, leadership, strength, height, metaphors, and all that. And once I recognized it I was able to do something about it.
I’ll admit it. My love of clothes stems from a certain amount of self-consciousness regarding my height. For most people, clothes are the obvious way to mitigate what we can and to emphasize our strengths. For me, and for scores of other short men, that goal is hardest to achieve in the spring and summer months. A tank top and cut offs might look good on those tall guys throwing a ball around the park, but on me, I look like a lost boy. Then October comes around and almost overnight I get that spring in my step. I slip on a vintage cashmere mustard colored sweater, cover up with the Rag & Bone coat I bought for my birthday (my first major purchase), lace up my dad’s old Red Wings, step onto the sidewalk, breathe in the New York fall air, and I head to work knowing that people are going to perceive me differently, because — and more importantly — I feel different. I feel powerful.
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