Pants of many colors raise family’s hackles

Yale Hollander is a dad, husband, legal professional and writer whose works have appeared in a number of local and national publications. He is currently a trustee of the St. Louis Jewish Light, however the opinions and viewpoints he presents in this blog are strictly his. Follow him on Twitter @yalehollander.

By Yale Hollander

A few weeks ago, my family and I gathered at a local cemetery for the dedication of my grandmother’s headstone. Following the service, as our party dispersed to seek the comfort of deli meats and knishes at my cousins’ home, I took the opportunity to express my thanks to the rabbi for his kind words and artful manner of leaving us with warm, comforting thoughts about a woman whose idea of comfort was letting you know how lucky you were not to have to raise three boys during the Depression and a world war. 

And, as I trust often occurs during conversations in the middle of cemeteries, the rabbi and I got to talking about pants, specifically the pair of burgundy trousers I happened to be wearing at the time. The rabbi mentioned that he had recently spoken on the topic of whether “the clothes make the man.” We agreed that a person’s choice in attire can have a tremendous impact on his or her destiny. People who take pride in their clothing have self-confidence, and self-confidence is a key to success in life.

Our chat left me uplifted, not just because the wise rabbi and I were on the same philosophical plane, but because I could throw it back in the faces of my wife and daughters who constantly berate me for my taste in pants. 

To paraphrase another wise philosopher, I like bold pants and I cannot lie. 

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The domestic conflict is currently at a lull as my autumn and winter wardrobe focuses on seasonally appropriate shades of tan, brown, green and grey. Sure, the burgundy pants are in that rotation, too, but they don’t generate much verbal resistance from my household of fashionistas. 

Spring and summer are clearly the seasons of domestic discontent, as my closet comes alive with pairs of yellow, orange, red, pink and seafoam green pants (none of which are polyester – I assure you.) Last year’s threadbare demise of my beloved madras patchwork trousers brought a collective cheer from the ladies. Little did they know those pants would be replaced with the new lightning rod of my collection: a delightful pair of sky blue chinos. That’s right, trousers in a respectable shade of sky blue now generate the most tension among those who are legally and biologically obligated to claim me in public.

I should mention the pants are crawling (not literally) with embroidered lobsters. From the moment I brought them home from a shopping excursion with my father (a respected sartorial aficionado in his own right,) the pants have generated nothing but familial angst which, of course, only emboldens me to wear them with greater frequency, notwithstanding the “you look like a walking clambake” catcalls.

Let them criticize. I love them (the pants and my family, to clarify). And I have rabbinic validation that bold trousers are perfectly OK to wear if they boost my self-confidence. But let’s keep the lobster thing to ourselves, if you don’t mind. I suppose the rabbi might have an ethical quandary validating that particular pair.