Phil is going on a trip to New York this month, and in preparation, he was rifling through his closet, hoping to cull “New York outfits”—clothes he can wear that’ll at least give the impression that he doesn’t actually spend his days in Texas sweatshirts and pajama bottoms.
“I think I’ll go to the mall today,” he says.
“The mall?! Like, where in the mall?”
Now, it’s not that Barton Creek Square is home to Wet Seal or anything. I mean, they have a Nordstrom. Still. Never a fantastic find has come from the mall.
“I don’t know. The Gap? For a sweater or something.”
“You don’t need sweaters.”
“Yes, I do. I only have two.” When he says this, I realize he’s not talking two in all of his closet, but two that he finds New York-worthy.
“The green cardigan and that other one.”
Hiding behind a pile of shit-ish sweaters are three gorgeous knits. I pair the navy crewneck with a button-down whose color can only be cataloged as “cantaloupe,” a cashmere lavender v-neck with a pink and pale blue striped dress shirt. There was no need to rope in The Gap. Then, low and behold, I discovered a gem. Amid the bland was a navy, red, and white plaid shirt, the very one on which I’d commented only days prior as we watched, wait for it, The Bachelor. Austin’s own, Brad Womack was wearing a plaid number on a recent date, and I turned to Phil and said these very words: “Oh my God. You would look so hot in that shirt. We need to get you that exact shirt.”
“Ah, thanks” he said, perhaps without looking up from his iPad (the very one he swore he’d never use – ahem).
There it was, already stocked in his closet. I added it to the “goes to NY” pile and thought to myself how nice it was to dress my man. How nice it is to feel needed for something, to be able to do something Phil can’t do. Actually, I realize there’s plenty I can do that he can’t. Still, *this* is part of what I’d always imagined the ethereal, hard to qualify, experience of marriage was. At least in part, this was the marriage I wanted, being able to take care of someone, to make him feel special and loved. I know it’s proto-feminist wanting to be the wifey who dresses her husband, but I don’t see it like that. It’s simply a singular expression of love. Usually Phil resists these expressions, mostly because—and maybe this has changed about him—he used to see such gestures as “your wife dresses you.” The very thought of it repelled him. He didn’t say as much, but he saw it as being controlled. Encroaching on his freedom, or maybe he worried that I was in some way dissatisfied with him the way he was.
Obviously he can wear what he’d like; I love him in whatever. Uh, save for his uglyass yellow shirt that makes him look like a road sign. He’s not the most classic of dressers, and if it were up to me, I’d have him looking like a walking mannequin. I like a Savile Row style. A camel sports coat, thick knotted tie with a bold alternating stripe, a thin striped white shirt, and yes, a sweater vest or a thin v-neck sweater with dark trousers, that when you looked at them from a certain angle appeared to have a fine stripe running through them. When more relaxed, just be touchable in soft pullovers and cable knits, a fisherman’s sweater.
I once came home with some purchases that I’ll admit were not my proudest styling moments…
“Liberace gay,” I believe were his exact words.
At least I got him to embrace the Sperry Topsiders.
After assembling some options, I found Phil downstairs working in the New York room. “So, you’re set,” I say. “You don’t have to go to the mawl. The only thing you need, that I can see, is a red sweater.” To go with that Brad Womack plaid.
“A red sweater?”
“I am not wearing a red sweater. The only people who wear red sweaters are fat people.”
I laugh the kind of laugh I love him for. I can’t stop.
“It’s true,” he says. “Not burgundy, but red? Like, Christmas red?”
I nod because I can’t speak, or breathe, because it’s so true. “That’s so not true,” I finally say.
“No? If I google ‘red sweater,’ I bet all the images are of fat guys.” As he says this, he begins to the google image search. “The pictures where they’re trying to sell the red sweater don’t count.”
He pulls up the images, and there are no fat people.
“Is that Hefner?” I ask.
“No, just some old guy.”
Old men and fat men wear red. Now we know. The red sweater is a lie you’re sold in catalogs. And this, right here, this slice of sharing a life, is the truth I’d always hoped to live.