The Evolution of Attire as One Ages, From Diapers to Sweatpants Man…and Beyond

Something happened the other day that caused me to think about the evolution of attire as one ages. Please be patient, as I’ll get to that momentarily. As a newborn, I came out of the shoot bare-assed like everybody else. My first piece of clothing included the diaper, held in place by a potentially lethal diaper pin. (We lived dangerously back in the day). I’m pretty sure that all those seriously dangerous diaper pins have long since been confiscated by the government, after carrying out many, many safety studies in monkeys. Studies have shown that even a monkey can figure out how to unfasten a diaper pin and use it as a lethal weapon. But I digress. The Evolution of Attire as One Ages

You’ll be happy to hear that I’m going to skip those years between birth and the teens, because during that time good old Mom picked out my clothes. Let’s just say that Mom was much more concerned about keeping me warm than about style or comfort. Winters in the Midwest were often harsh, and I still have nightmares about those snowsuits that she stuffed me into when she shoved me outside to play in the snow. Those snowsuits eventually became the design for strait jackets used in mental hospitals. The cloth was so thick and stiff that I could barely move my arms or legs. I had to be very careful not to topple over in the snow. This would leave me lying on my back like a turtle, helpless and sweating profusely until Mom came to the rescue. Maybe now you can understand why I want to skip those years. The Evolution of Attire as One Ages

My family was blessed in that we had a roof over our heads, food and clothing. However, we were not exactly one-percenters. We lived in the valley, down by the river, which was akin to the slums of our small Midwestern town. As most teenagers, I was anxious to fit in. Back then, in the 1960’s, Levi blue jeans were all the rage. The hippie generation had their effect on the most popular clothing styles. For some reason, looking poor became the ‘thing’…as in ripped jeans, shirts and jackets with patches and the like. I was already poor, so you wouldn’t think this should have been a problem. The Evolution of Attire as One Ages

However, when my mother scrimped and saved to proudly buy me a pair of brand-new Levi jeans, they were stiff, crisp, and unblemished…they didn’t look very ‘hippie’. So, I took a pair of scissors and cut holes in the knees. I’m well over 60 today, and I’m surprised that I’m still not grounded. Not my finest hour. That was one angry mother. The Evolution of Attire as One Ages     

I graduate high school, went off to college, and then joined the US Public Health Service (USPHS) and went to work for the federal government. (As a scientist, I worked for the FDA and the NIH at various times). The USPHS falls under the Navy in war time, and I wore the equivalent of a naval officer’s uniform, but with USPHS insignia. We had working whites and dress blues as our main options. This was quite a change from ragged and holey jeans. The Evolution of Attire as One Ages

Fortunately, the whites were comfortable, but they were difficult to keep clean. You had to be very careful where you sat (park benches are a lot dirtier than one might think), and even more careful around your small children. Chocolate milk stains were not part of the dress code. The naval hat, called a ‘cover’, cause me considerable difficulty. There were stringent rules as to when to wear your cover, and when to remove it. I am 6’7” tall, and there were places I had to be careful walking for fear my cover would remove itself and end up on the ground, also not part of the official dress code. The Evolution of Attire as One Ages

I took my twenty-year retirement and went to work for industry. The uniform there consisted of formal business suit and tie. Most of the best business suits back then contained some percentage of wool, which is itchy, uncomfortable and hotter than hell in summer. I also had a slight allergy to wool, so I spent a lot of time scratching, especially my legs. The Evolution of Attire as One Ages

A properly knotted tie had the potential to look nice, but I always felt like I was being strangled. My height also posed a problem here. I could never quite get the tie length correct, and either looked like Opie with my tie ending well above my belly button or extending down well below the crotch area. My mother taught me to tie my own tie, and she did it while facing me. When I tied it myself, I looked in a mirror. So, there’s that…very confusing. I suppose I should be grateful I never strangled myself to death by accident. The Evolution of Attire as One Ages   

Traveling in a nice business suite also caused certain problems. If I wore my business jacket on the plane and strapped into my seat, I found myself feeling like I was back in that snowsuit again. I could barely move my arms. So, I would fold (read wad) up my jacket and place it in the overhead bin. My suit pants also got heavily wrinkled as I stuffed my 6’7” frame into an airplane seat, and the seats shrunk substantially with each passing year. The Evolution of Attire as One Age

My mother raised me, since my father was always at work or in a bar somewhere. She taught me to iron, among other things. So, when I traveled, I would actually use the ironing board and iron that hotels included in the coat closet. Otherwise, after traveling in the suit I looked like I had slept in it. Unfortunately, I was a slow ironer, so I would be up half the night getting ready for the next day. The Evolution of Attire as One Ages

When I was working, it was acceptable to iron your own clothes in a hotel room in the US. However, no one told me that in some parts of Europe this was frowned on. I remember my first business trip to the Netherlands. The hotel rooms in Europe were much more efficient (by that I mean smaller), and I found no ironing board or iron in the closet. I was doomed to look like I slept in my clothes, and I was one of the speakers scheduled for the meeting on the following day. Apparently, one was expected to request maid service or dry-cleaning service to carry out this ironing task. The Evolution of Attire as One Ages

None the wiser, I went to the front desk and asked for an iron and ironing board. The young woman, looking at me like I was some sort of two-headed monster, led me and my wrinkled pants to a bank of very small closets. Each closet contained an ironing board and iron all set up and ready to go. With barely enough space to get into the room, I somehow managed to finish ironing my pants before passing out from claustrophobia. I’m guessing they’re still talking about that crazy American to this day. I guess it’s good to be famous (read infamous). The Evolution of Attire as One Ages

My last job before retiring consisted of working as a pharmaceutical and medical biotech consultant. I had the great fortune of working from a home office that was situated on a spectacular lake. My corner office view consisted of a full-sized sliding glass door overlooking the water. Not too many people get to work in an office where the main danger is that of an errant jet ski flying through your corner office window. This was well before the Chinese shared their bat virus with us, forcing everyone to work from home for two years. But I digress (I seem to do that a lot…look…a squirrel). The Evolution of Attire as One Ages

Anyhow, point is that my dress code changed dramatically. I still had to travel from time to time to meet new clients for the first time, requiring a business suit. But most of my time was spent working from my home office reviewing scientific information, writing reports and participating in telecons. This is the point in my life where my wife and children dubbed me sweatpants man, because with no personal contact with co-workers or clients, I chose comfortable. I wore cotton sweatpants and shirts all the time. The Evolution of Attire as One Ages

Oh, what a glorious time…no itchy wool, no being strangled by an improperly tied tie, no confining business jackets. Just blissfully soft, fleece-lined cotton sweatpants and shirts. I confess that I hated traveling, mainly because of the confining and uncomfortable business suits. Only other problem appeared when telecons became video conferences. During those, I became half-sweat-pants man…business attire on the top, and sweatpants on the bottom, off camera. As family’s will do, my wife and daughters gave me a lot of grief over that one. The Evolution of Attire as One Ages

At age 64, I retired. My daughters had grown and moved out by then, and my wife and I had the place to ourselves. I went full-on sweatpants man, day and night, 24/7 comfort. Sweatpants to the store, the movies, the pharmacy, the restaurant…didn’t matter. Didn’t think I had anyone left to impress. Not trying to “pick up chicks” as we used to say back in the day (at 70 I can barely pick up my toothbrush and my wife would kill me anyhow), no boss, clients or work colleagues, no dress code, just soft, comfortable sweatpants and sweatshirts. The Evolution of Attire as One Ages

Then the other day, my wife and I were discussing this very subject and laughing. She dresses mainly in comfortable shorts and cotton shirts…it is Florida. And I am still in 24/7 sweatpants mode. However, she really threw me a curve when she said, “Hon, you do realize that you are wearing pajamas.” The Evolution of Attire as One Ages

This brought me up short. I said, “Say what? What do you mean? These aren’t pajamas, they are the same sweatpants I’ve been wearing for years now.” The Evolution of Attire as One Ages

She explained, “Remember when Covid hit a couple of years ago? I ordered you several pairs of cotton pants in gray, blue and black. They are very thin, soft cotton. You have been wearing them all the time since March of 2020 when Covid arrived on the scene.” The Evolution of Attire as One Ages

I responded, “Yes, I remember. They are sweatpants, same as always. I really like them, because they are so comfortable, and the thin cotton material is perfect for the warm days in Florida. But they are sweatpants, so what’s the problem?” The Evolution of Attire as One Ages

She smiled. “Well, for one thing, you not only wear them all day, but you also sleep in them. But the real kicker is that button down fly…single button. Sorry Dear, but those are pajamas; they are actually called sleep pants. I didn’t say anything because you seemed so happy.” The Evolution of Attire as One Ages

So now what the hell do I do? I’ve discovered that for the past two years I’ve been running around in public in my pajamas. Talk about embarrassing. I’m gonna have to do some research and find something else to wear. Perhaps I’ll go back to genuine sweatpants again or go back to jeans with holes in the knees, or business suits. Hell, even that snowsuit is looking pretty good about now, although probably a little too warm for Florida. I’ve still got my old PHS uniform, but at this age (and shape) there’s no way I could squeeze into that thing again. The Evolution of Attire as One Ages

Since we live a two-minute walk from the beach, maybe I should just go full on Florida and wear beach attire all the time…swimsuit, tank top, flip-flops. But then I’d have to go to the beach once in a while and I’d get sand in my pants. That would most certainly make for some uncomfortable nights in bed. The Evolution of Attire as One Ages

If you liked this blog post, you would most surely enjoy my new comedy murder mystery, THE REALTOR’S CURSE. Go to to sign up to ready the first two chapters and/or find the links to buy the book. Or go directly to to buy the book on Amazon.