We live in the age of dumb and mean. And, we live in an era with a POTUS that wears ill-fitting suits with pants that drag on the floor and ties longer than the crotch. No wonder he is angry all the time. He looks dreadful. Here is 45’s fashion advice:
“The beauty of me is that I’m very rich.”
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me: ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'”
I was thinking about him today while reading my feed on The Facebook, especially the posts about the Manchester murders.
Usually when you say that someone is “nice”, you are really saying nothing at all. Either you don’t know them all that well or you are just not thinking about it all that much. It doesn’t matter. Fred Rogers was nice. He was nice in a meaningful, sincere way. He might have been the nicest man to ever appear on television. And, his signature sweater/trouser/sneaker look is nice too. It’s a combination that has, against all odds, never gone out of style.
Mr. Rogers was a man of action. He didn’t think what was being broadcast on television was good enough for kids. So, he decided to change it himself. For more than three decades, he did. He taught kids how to tackle their first day of school. He taught children to be themselves. He taught them how to carry a tune. Some people who grew-up with his show think his was the greatest television show of all time. You probably watched it as a kid. Most young people did. You are probably better for it.
But, today I want you to consider his status as a true Style Icon, and the greatest examples of how to achieve a Gay Mr. Rogers Style. In every episode, Mr. Rogers would pop in the door wearing a blazer, a dress shirt, a tie and some slim trousers with the perfect modern break. He would then go to (but not in) the closet and replace that perfect blazer with a cool cardigan. Then, he’d sit down and slide his dress shoes off and slip into his famous blue sneakers before dispensing wise platitudes. You kids could rock this look nowadays and never look anything less than adorbs.
If you doubt his Style Icon status, consider that his red cardigan and the sneakers are in a permanent exhibit at the Smithsonian Institute. That must mean something!
To get that Mr. Rogers look is simple, yet difficult. No matter what the rest of your closet has in it, you need to have one excellent white and one excellent blue button-down shirt. I can’t find any episode where he isn’t wearing either a white or blue button-down.
You only need two shirts, but you should have lots of ties. They can be solid. They can be polka dot. They can be striped. The tie can be anything, because Rogers didn’t do busy sweaters, or nutty colors and patterns in his shirts. This allows you to choose which tie to wear based on how you are feeling, and not on how well it will go with the rest of your clothing.
Wear simple trousers, and simpler belts, no fancy buckles and no odd colors, brown or black belts every gosh darn time. In our own era, jeans are fine. I can’t imagine a modern gay guy leaving his good trousers on when he gets home from work. Be comfortable, but never sloppy. You want to look smart, but not too composed, when you Grindr hook-up arrives.
To really achieve the Mr. Rogers look, you must have some variation of cardigan sweater. Here is where you can be bold with the colors, although some colors are bolder than others. Because of Mr. Rogers, generations of people think of the cardigan as a warm, inviting piece of clothing for only the very nicest people in the world.
“I like you just the way you are.”
Unconditional acceptance, arguably the most positive and compassionate message that any LGBTQ child, youth, or adult could have found anywhere on television during Rogers’ tenure.
Sadly, it’s been 14-years since the passing of America’s favorite neighbor. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood ran from 1968 to 2001, with an astonishing 895 episodes. This means that just about everyone over 20-years-old has an indelible image in their memory of Mr. Rogers, dressed in his iconic cardigan, canvas sneakers, and button-down shirt and tie. Remember, this is a look that works well for a certain kind of lesbian too. And, also remember, be nice kids.