My Old Navy Addiction
Photo illustration by Courtney Nicholas
Editor's note: There is no relation between this piece, written by our longtime columnist Jizz Jussinger, and the piece in GQ by Friday Night Lights author and generally despised human being Buzz Bissinger about his "addiction" to buying ludicrously expensive Gucci clothes and accessories that's cost him half a million dollars. Any similarity between Jizz's article and Mr. Bissinger's is entirely coincidental.
I have an addiction. It isn’t drugs or gambling; I get to keep what I use after I use it. But there are similarities: the futile feeding of the bottomless beast and the unavoidable psychological implications, the immediate hit of the new that feels like an orgasm and the inevitable coming-down. In the past few years, I've bought 81 graphic tees. Dozens of shorts, both board and cargo. My name is Jizz Jussinger. I am 58 years old, the author of Some Kids Play Football but It's Complicated and Award-Winning, father of three, husband. And I am a shopaholic.
It started three years ago. I have never fully revealed it, and am only revealing it now in the hopes that my confession will incite a remission and perhaps help others of similar compulsion. If all I buy is Old Navy, I will be fine. It has taken a while to figure out what works and what doesn’t work but Old Navy men’s clothing best represents who I want to be and have become—a laid-back guy you'd be unafraid to call "dude," a Yacht Rocker from a landlocked state, someone who would be good at surfing if he tried, probably. During a recent trip to the Navy, a fellow shopper said I looked like Luke from The OC, a compliment that at this point in my life means more to me than any piece of writing.
I own 124 polos, 75 sweaters emblazoned with Old Navy Athletics, 41 pairs of khakis, 12 track jackets, and 115 pairs of novelty-print boxers covered in pizzas and beach balls and burgers and ducks. Those who conclude from this that I have a John Hughes fetish, an extreme John Hughes fetish, get a grand prize of zero. And those who are familiar with my choices will sign affidavits attesting to the fact that I wear polos every day. The self-expression feels glorious, an indispensable part of me. As a stranger said after admiring my look in a red-sleeved raglan and a pair of plaid cargos with flip-flops, “You don’t give a fuck.”
I don’t. I finally don’t.
Some of the clothing is men’s. Some is women’s. I make no distinction. Men’s fashion is catching up, now that slim jeans can be worn by both genders. But women’s fashion is still infinitely more interesting and has an unfair monopoly on feeling sexy. If the clothing you wear makes you feel the way you want to feel, liberated and alive, then fucking wear it. The opposite, to repress yourself as I did for the first 55 years of my life, is the worst price to pay. The United States is a country that has raged against enlightenment since 1776; puritanism, the guiding lantern, has cast its withering judgment on anything outside the narrow societal mainstream. Think it’s easy to be preppy in America without breaking the bank? Try something as benign as wearing ladies’ size two flare jeans if you’re a man.
It is safe to assume that when someone buys more than half a million dollars in clothing in three years, it isn't simply beautiful clothing that he seeks. I began to seek sexual expression in the form of high fashion, men's because I liked the hardness and women's because I liked the sexiness. Blended together, it became a high-schooler-from-a-CW-show look, particularly with the puka-shell necklace around my neck to fit my usual "Hey, what's up guys?" mood.
My wife and I realized several years ago that we had run our sexual course, and soon, my sexual appetites began to spin in all sorts of different directions, which was reflected in my sartorial choices. I began to wonder about sex and sexuality and where exactly I fit in, in the complex spectrum. I did go into the sexual unknown, and the clothing I began to wear routinely gave me the confidence to do it, to transcend the rigid definitions of sexuality and gender.
Was I homosexual because so much of what I wear is associated with gays? I did experiment. Like my bros Logan and Chandler say: "A mouth is a mouth." Once, I went to Hong Kong and Macao with some friends. We went to sex clubs, many, many sex clubs with many, many women. We became tired. Four days seemed like four years. My cargo pants became stiff with semen from all the OTPHJs.
The most expensive fleece pullover I own cost me $28. The most expensive pair of shorts I own, olive-colored khakis with a button fly, cost $15. The most expensive graphic tee, my "Long Beach Surf Shop" shirt, cost the same. The most expensive pair of swim trunks set me back $24.94. Old Navy by far makes up the highest percentage of my collection. The Old Navy brand has always held special power for me, ever since the 90s, when I found that I could dress like a Banana Republic model for a third of the price.
I own 43 pieces of Old Navy—12 track jackets, six fleece hoodies, five pairs of pants that can also zip into shorts, six pastel polos, seven pairs of argyle socks, and three pairs of flip-flops. I own items from American Eagle, Abercrombie, Aeropostale, Banana Republic, Gap, Forever21, Lacoste, J. Crew, Wet Seal, and Hollister. I also have several pieces of limited-edition Penguin polos. They’re worth every penny and more. But nothing is more cost-effective than Old Navy.
I keep meticulous track of my finances on my computer. Most of the categories of spending are completely out of control. Except for the category of clothing.
It wasn’t until the preparation of this story that I actually took a detailed look at the millions of items I have purchased from 2010 through 2012. I was afraid, quite candidly, although a total of a half a thousand dollars would not have fazed me.
I was somewhat off.
$487.94. Old Navy has the greatest deals.
Jizz Jussinger is a contributing editor at Hey, What's Up Bro, You Like This Waistcoat I Bought? Pretty Sweet, Right? magazine. He doesn't like you either.
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