Dress code

Having spent much of the previous two days in airports, I am reminded of the knit golf shirt’s ubiquity as traveling attire for middle-aged white guys (MAWGs). Apparently, the MAWG believes the golf shirt is a statement, a statement that he is of a certain class—to those of us who are middle-aged, golf still carries the aura of the well-off—but not stuffy. It says, in the mind of the MAWG, that he’s a success, but still a guy’s guy. Knit three-button pullover shirts with a collar come in many colors and patterns, of course, but solids and subtle stripes just don’t say “golf” and aren’t the kind of shirt I’m talking about. No, the true golf shirt is of one of two types:

The first is the bold pattern, usually some abstract leaf motif or something reminiscent of a dashiki. No doubt the pattern is thought to add to the “I may look like your father, but I’m not a square” statement. The second is the logoed shirt. It could be solid or thin-striped, but it has a company logo on the left breast or, less commonly, the sleeve. The logo certainly detracts from the “I’m not a square” statement, but it fairly screams “GOLF OUTING!!!” And if the logo is for a company other than your own, that means you are a Valued Customer and not just another salesman. Of course, you have to let anyone you’re traveling with know that you work for another company and the shirt was given to you by your good friends at XYZ Inc. at their last outing in Myrtle Beach. In fact, there’s a funny story about that…

The golf shirt is always tucked in. MAWGs who go to the gym often benefit from this, because it tends to make muscular guys look trim, even if age has made them thick in the waist. Oddly, truly thin MAWGs don’t get the same benefit. I suspect this has something to do with the golf shirt’s tight sleeves drawing attention to the muscular MAWG’s arms, but further research is needed.

While the appearance of the thin MAWG is not helped by the tucked-in golf shirt, at least it is not hurt. Sadly, the same cannot be said for the fat MAWG, especially the most common type of fat MAWG who carries his weight around the middle. The golf shirt clings to the spare tire and, in a freshly-tucked shirt, hoists it up so passers-by can get a better view. Worse, though, is what the golf shirt does to the fat MAWG’s bellybutton. The shirt, which follows the large tummy’s convexity, suddenly goes flat at the navel, stretched tightly across the sinkhole. The rapid change in curvature plays tricks with the light; from some angles it appears that you can see through the shirt into gaping maw itself. I have two more plane trips scheduled for the next two weeks, and with luck that will be it for the summer. With cooler weather, the golf shirts go back in the drawers, waiting for Memorial Day to bloom again.