Ellen Cassidy was right; or: how I became a metrosexual.

I now own a pair of $125.00 jeans. And I just put a second of the same on special order. I can feel my little unfashionable world crumbling around me.

I am not an innately fashionable person. There are near-flamewars still floating about on the comments sections of various blogs between Phoebe and I about whether it’s acceptable to pay more than $20 for a pair of jeans, or care about fashion at all, or whatever. I, obviously, took the “con” side.

So much for that, eh?

What happened? Well, the fashion whirlwind that is Ellen Cassidy happened. Over the course of many, many, hours spent at Caffe del Doge, she slowly convinced me that my existing clothes were horrible. Mostly, this involved the giving of actual persuasive reasons, like pointing out the ways in which things fit poorly. It also involved making extreme fun of my feeble attempts to justify various articles of clothing. (Hint to future makeover subjects: you cannot defend wearing an ill-fitting free t-shirt from some sand volleyball event by claiming “it’ll give the impression that I’m athletic!” Not, that is, unless you want to be mocked for the rest of your unnatural life.) She also pointed out various well-dressed people, although sometimes that was counterproductive. (Hint for other fashionistas: pointing out someone whose clothing just barely improves his/her general unattractiveness does not do much good to convince someone who is afraid of just that result to go in for a makeover.)

Finally, I announced that I’d go to the mall with her. I insisted that I wouldn’t spend very much money, and that I would liberally exercise my reserved veto power. In all honesty, I’m not sure that I expected to walk out of there with any new clothes at all, and possibly with whole new traumatic clothing shopping experiences. Still, half a league, half a league, half a league onward, all into Nordstrom rode I. Forward, the shopping brigade! Charge for the racks!

Upon entering the store, I immediately realized that I was in unfamiliar territory when the heathen iconography of the Cult of the Shoe Fetishists began to impose itself on my consciousness:

The charge into oblivion began with lunch at the Nordstrom cafe. Yes, they have a cafe. The food is surprisingly good, although the staff and logistics are quite incompetent. You order at the counter, and then you go to a table where a full-fledged waiter serves you. I don’t really know why they trust the waiters with everything except taking the initial order and taking the money, but they do. Instead, they trusted a rather snippy clerk with the money-and-orders duties. She took an immediate disliking to me:

Paul: “I’d like the turkey [and something] sandwich, but can you substitute the garlic aioli for the mayonnaise?”
Nasty clerk [scowling]: “garlic aioli is mayonnaise.”
Paul [stares blankly, stammers for a bit]: “No. I want the sandwich without mayonnaise, and with the garlic aioli from the other sandwich. Can you do that?”
NC [with visible reluctance]: “yes.”

Apparently most department store eaters are sheep who gladly eat their food however the menu lists it, even if they don’t like the ingredients. Baaaaah. I took a candid picture of NC, but it’s probably a little too mean to put it on the internet.

While we ate, Ellen played this song to set the mood. It’s worth a listen — I think I have to see the stage version of Legally Blonde now.

Then it was time to get around to that whole gun-charging business, in the form of the actual shopping. And things started a little rocky. We immediately latched on a blazer that was adored by all and sundry until I saw the $700 price tag. I did not buy that blazer, obviously.

And then came Evil Tape Measure Guy. Ellen summoned an attendant to find and fetch clothes (an attendant!) and his first task was to take some measurements. Well, Evil Tape Measure Guy told me that I should wear pants with a waist size a full four inches more than I normally wear. That’s gotta be a good thirty pounds ago.

As you can imagine, I was a little distressed by this news. Be proud of me. I did not shout or swear at Evil Tape Measure guy, nor did I storm out in a huff or cry. (Ok, maybe I swore a little. But not AT him.) And I ended up with jeans in the correct size (i.e., the size I wore before) rather than in the insanely inflated size tape measure guy claimed. (Though I think pants ended up in a different size, for bizarre and occult reasons, possibly involving Federal Distorted Measurement Standards and/or The Mafia.) So to hell with Evil Tape Measure Guy.

Actually, ETMG was quite nice, apart from the whole TM part. But I still resent him. And I still damn him to the hell of whatever religion he believes in. You only get one strike with Paul Gowder.

Fortunately, ETMG was not the only face of Nordstrom. The E in ETMG was fully counterbalanced and then some by the G from Natasha. Natasha was the sales clerk, cheerleader, secondary source of wise fashion judgment (after Ellen herself, naturally), and general delightful human being in attendance. She is so awesome that I almost asked for her number, though I decided that would be a little creepy.

So ETMG gathered a massive pile of clothes, and I took them into the dressing room. And, suddenly, things got brighter. Several of the bits of clothes fit properly! And they actually looked good! There was a large pile of rejects, naturally, but there was also quite a large pile of acceptances. I must have gone in and out of the dressing room at least twenty times over an absurd number of hours (we closed the store out).

There were also entertaining interludes. For example: it appears that Nordstrom serves people rich enough to get away with bringing their dogs into department stores. This washed-up-old-rock-star-looking-guy is only one of the two people who did this, with nary a blink from the staff:

I’m tempted to get a dog and bring it everywhere I go, just so I can convince people that I must be rich and powerful — because who else would just casually assume they can bring their dog to go romping around, e.g., $700 blazers?

The most important thing was the praise. Whenever I came out wearing something attractive, Ellen praised me. Then Natasha praised me. Daniel came along, and often he praised me too. Occasionally, random passer-by praised me. (The praise is continuing — particularly, whenever Ellen and I hang out, she’s quite liberal about praising the new outfits and encouraging others to praise them too. This has done wonders for my continued submission to the Cassidy Plan for Global Fashion Domination.)

I like praise. Praise sells clothes. Praise sold lots of clothes to me on Sunday. Praise sold me several shirts, and pants and… the most important thing of all…

Happy jeans! Happy jeans! Happy jeans! Happy jeans!

The happy jeans are so insanely soft and comfy that I want to make out with them. I have contemplated creating a Facebook account for the happy jeans so that I can change my status to “in a relationship with the happy jeans.” The happy jeans are the best article of clothing I’ve ever owned. The happy jeans fit ridiculously well, and Ellen insists they take off 20 pounds.

After the happy jeans came out, the rest was pretty much gravy. I had tutorials in proper shirt-tucking and collar-straightening (I’ve a good handle on the former, but the latter is still difficult). I sat down with Daniel and insisted he give me a sanity check before buying the obscene pile of clothes, and he agreed that buying them is, in fact, sane (I’m not convinced, but sanity is grossly overrated). Then we took a detour into the women’s so that Ellen could do a little shopping. In that section, I saw possibly the most disturbing brand name ever:

And so the happy jeans have converted me. I have officially given over my entire wardrobe and general appearance into Ellen’s hands, solely on the strength of the happy jeans. I am even going to let her go through my closet, although I suspect it may be more efficient to just pour a can of gasoline over the whole thing and toss in a match for all that will survive.

In short, Ellen was right. (And yes, I promised to write this post.)

How, might you ask, can I afford this? Well, my answer is roughly “I don’t care.” Or, as I said to Ellen while expressing my conversion, “fuck money.” I’m not saving up for anything or planning to have kids or the like. Life is short, money is good only for spending, when you’re young it’s perfectly rational to spend a higher percentage of your income, and I have no fear of being poor. So fuck it.

More pictures to follow. There are going to be several more stages to this makeover. I don’t have enough pictures at the moment, but I will take more on subsequent trips. In particular, I am reserving the full “after” photo for when we’ve replaced the bag, put a good blazer with it, haircut, contacts, etc. I also badly need a picture of Natasha.

I will, however, offer you a teaser that does not show the happy jeans, but does show a new shirt:

The light brigade survived! Although Natasha has been lobbying Ellen to have me wax my eyebrows. I might not survive that…


16 Responses to “Ellen Cassidy was right; or: how I became a metrosexual.”

  1. eric Says:

    That is a nice shirt. Much better than the scary mylar one you wore to the glam party.

    But the picture of the shoe is extremely disturbing. I fear it will give me nightmares. I may have to sue you for intentional infliction of emotional distress.

  2. Mike Says:

    Good man.

  3. ellen Says:

    I’d just like to state that that was not at all how his conversation with the cafe lady went, and my personal favorite line in this is:

    “This has done wonders for my continued submission to the Cassidy Plan for Global Fashion Domination.”

    To any commenters requiring my services… I would love to help!

  4. Paul Gowder Says:

    Ellen may also be right about the mean cafe lady conversation. She has a terrifying memory for conversations. And I am shocked, shocked, about the favorite line.

  5. ben Says:

    Do you charge for your time or services, ellen?

  6. Phoebe Says:

    I… I can’t believe it. Could be your new pants cost more than all the pants I own combined.

  7. Paul Gowder Says:

    I never take half-measures… if I’m going to change sides, I change sides all the way. :-)

  8. tobeyola Says:

    You write, “How, might you ask, can I afford this? Well, my answer is roughly “I don’t care.” Or, as I said to Ellen while expressing my conversion, “fuck money.” I’m not saving up for anything or planning to have kids or the like. Life is short, money is good only for spending, when you’re young it’s perfectly rational to spend a higher percentage of your income, and I have no fear of being poor. So fuck it.”

    One response:


    Paul, I fear that you have become a Palo Altoid.

  9. Paul Gowder Says:

    Bite your tongue! And don’t Singer me until I have a Palo Altoid’s income.

  10. Mike Says:

    Singer is the ultimate trump card. Nicely played, tobeyola.

  11. Mike Says:

    Paul: As atonement, fund a Kiva account. Only take $25. Even my hateful, immoral, hedonistic, libertarian self has a Kiva profile. http://www.kiva.org/

    You could probably even parlay that into sex with “public interest” chicks – if you played it right.

    Step 1. Makeover from Ellen.
    Step 2. Game lessons from Mike.
    Step 3. Total corruption of the soul.
    Step 4. [Profit?] [Or at least sex; which, let's face it, is the only reason for profit.]

  12. Steve M. Says:

    I can’t help but wonder whether your “about” section ought to be amended. Perhaps:

    In a previous life, he was a civil rights lawyer, a legal aid lawyer, a volunteer community organizer, and a New Orleans music industry middleman. He once spent $125 on a pair of jeans.

    I say this as someone who has spent a comparable amount of money on a pair of pants (which were not even part of a suit!), and was, and is, quite satisfied with the purchase.

  13. Steve M. Says:

    Er, I meant, which pair was not even part of a suit. I’m slipping.

  14. Real Man Says:


    I’m a member of the “Toronto Real Men”, the world’s only anti-metrosexual organization, run by “Dimitri The Lover”, aka “The Prophet”. In the same way that John Connor fights the machines for survival of humanity in “The Terminator”, The Prophet has dedicated his life to fight “Metrosexuality” for the survival of masculinity. He is a modern-day Rasputin … a real-life Tyler Durden.

    Here is the web site for the “Toronto Real Men”: http://torontorealmen.com … if you go to the section in the menu on the left titled “Meeting Announcements”, then click on “August”, you will understand everything he is trying to do. Also, if you click on the link on the left titled “Media Centre”, there’s both a radio interview and an appearance in a documentary so you can hear The Prophet speak.

    Also, everyone knows that women in Toronto are stuck up and play games. Here is how The Prophet deals with a single woman that likes him but still refuses to cough up her number … he hands her this flyer: http://pics.livejournal.com/suspiciouslump/pic/00001pse

    Here is a link to some animations that have been banned by YouTube but give you a great indication of The Prophet’s philosophy: http://dimitrithelover.com/animation.html … the “Crucifixion of Dimitri” represents how he has suffered for all men.

    Finally, here is The Prophet’s main web site: http://dimitrithelover.com

    We heard at the last meeting that his Hollywood film (the one that the producers of Borat and Bruno created) is completed and should be released in the next few months. Then the world will know the truth about what The Prophet is doing to rid the world of feminism once and for all.



  15. Mike Says:

    I wait for the Lucky semi-annual sale – 50% off denim. Lucky is all I’ve worn for the past couple of years.

    You can get True Religion jeans from Nordstrom Rack for $100-$125. The horseshoe logo on the ass attracts status whores, which makes True Religion great for pea cocking.

  16. Ellen Says:

    I never noticed the completely nuts anti-metrosexual comment on this post. Paul, how did you never tell me about this?

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