Throughout my life, I have always looked up to well-dressed men. My dad was never the dressing-up type, he was a man to get through life with a single suit—Christmas parties and other work functions were the only things that could get him into the next level of dress. Not to say he was a sloppy man, but one of his favorite outfits was a Canadian tuxedo and he wore a hat ninety-five percent of the time. Sometime in high school, I became infatuated with suits. Though, like most high-schoolers, the infatuation with suits, unfortunately, didn’t come with taste.

I went to Value Village, and as soon as I found something that fit, I bought it. It didn’t fit well, in fact, the suit wore me, but I still felt great. The tasteless high school girls fooled themselves into thinking I looked good too, but I still see kids like this in the mall and walking down the streets in neighborhoods; kids that have no style to begin with putting on suits in an effort to elevate themselves. You get this silly notion of the suit makes the man in your head and tell yourself that as long as you’re wearing a blazer, you’re dressed well.

My infatuation with nice clothes has always been tempered by my lack of social life, as well as warehouse jobs. When you spend sixty hours a week in a dusty old warehouse, the last thing you want to do is ruin your good clothes. I’ve always been highly attracted to well-dressed men, but it took a lot to get me to the place where I could dress in the way that I find attractive. I’ve always had body issues, being an overweight teenager sticks with you and warps yourself perception. I defaulted to one-size-too-big t shirts and baggy pants and wondered why I never felt comfortable in my own skin. It took a job in a classy retail environment filled with women to get me to change my ways.

When I first started, I bought what I’ve been calling “the initial wave,” they’re clothes I don’t wear much anymore past the sweaters. Dress pants that don’t fit too well, a few shirts that are quite boxy, but everything looked good and served its purpose at the time. Once I got into an environment where everyone took pride in their outfits, I started to aspire to something a little better. I took a chance and ordered some shirts online from a real store, not just something like Mark’s. It was an eye-opening experience, learning what slim fit vs. an athletic fit vs. a tailored fit were, but when I finally got set up with nice, high-quality shirts, everything changed.

The experience was different—people complimented me in real ways, I felt more confident, and above all else, the shirts fit me properly. Proper fitting shirts led to proper fitting pants, and that’s when I realized that I’m not nearly as fat as I think I am. Tight pants don’t look egregious on me, they actually do me some favours. I have what I call “a negative-ass.” I do not have the desirable bubble but that some men fill out their trousers with. No, unfortunately, in even the tightest of pants, I have the ability to grab a handful of fabric from the seat of my slacks. The tight pants have allowed me to work on my ankle game with fun socks and great shoes—opening the door into the world of accessories, something once populated solely by fedoras and thick scarves. Like Thanos, the mad titan, I too appreciate a good accessory and have begun a lovely collection of watches and glasses. I get a real joy from coordinating the little things. My favorite look is something I call “layers.” Brown shoes with a pop of colour from the socks, grey pants, a brown belt, a blue shirt and brown glasses.

I feel like the style aspect of my personality has been waiting twenty-nine years to appear, and now that he’s out to play, it’s becoming all consuming. I love shopping for high quality clothes, and I love finding them cheap. A fire has been ignited in me, one that was, at first, kept at bay by the fear of being called “a fag.” Once I grew out of that fear, it was the lack of places to go that kept me from upping my wardrobe. Finally, I had places to go, people to see and a sense of confidence—taking care of myself and my appearance isn’t a negative thing, it’s a positive thing that an alarmingly small number of men do, it instantly puts you in a class of few (at least in Grande Prairie). My favourite thing, and something that I’m going to do as soon as I’m finished here is my grooming ritual.

I find a podcast, something funny and light and put it on over the little Bluetooth speaker I have in the bathroom. Then, I strip naked and check out the various levels of growth re: my treasure trail and pubes. Once that’s handled, I move upstairs to the face. I start with my eyebrows. Now, I don’t shape or do anything like that, but I trim the long ones to keep the grey ones from jumping out into the world and keep them from creeping both towards each other and up my forehead. After that, today I will be exfoliating (it’s been a few days) with my trusty apricot scrub and then shaving. I have about four days of growth, which if you saw, you’d chuckle at (fair hair doesn’t make for very good stubble). When all that is done, I hit the face with some ice-cold water to shut my pores back up before I open them up again in the shower. The last step before jumping in the water is a solid nose hair trim and the old-man check. I have about six or seven hairs that grow straight out of my right ear and can get up to three inches long before I even notice. It’s horrendous.

There’s more to it, but it’s kind of weird I’ve already gone into this level of description, I feel like Patrick Bateman. Either way, working with a large group of women who take immaculate care of themselves has proven to be highly beneficial to my skin. I love asking them the little questions that produce great results. For instance, once, I had mentioned that I exfoliate after I shave, which was met with full body cringes and wide eyes. “Oh my god, no.”

Since that day, my face has never been smoother. They taught me about different lotions, and how a face lotion is so very specifically made for the face, and how the thick ass Aveeno that I’m drenching myself in may be just a bit heavy for daily use. I absolutely love the women I work with for all of this, because they genuinely seem excited to help me along this journey—I also think they think that I may be better at this than I actually am. I feel like they don’t know how much they’ve helped me, but I do know that a lot of them read this blog, so ladies: thank you, you’ve helped me break out of my cocoon and spread my wings like the fabulous little butterfly I’ve always known that I am.

It’s my dream that all little boys grow up knowing that style and fashion are two different things, and that taking care of yourself isn’t something that only girls have to do. Life is better when you take time for yourself before anything else; show yourself that you love you, and people will flock to you.

See you tomorrow.