Here’s an open forum question, Readers, and a chance to vent:  What item in your partner’s wardrobe do you consider most deserving of a date with a can of petrol and a lit match?

Even if you are fortunate enough to get it together with someone whose sense of style you really dig, they will always have one or two pieces that you doggedly despise.  And the more they wear them, the more beloved those pieces are, the greater your resentment.  Lying in bed at night, your mind wanders… you plot accidents, like an evil step-parent.  What if that cut-off sweater were to, sadly, shrink in a too-hot wash?  What if bleach was, unfortunately, spilled on that No Fear tee-shirt?  What if the floral-print Doc Martens found their way into the Goodwill bag, or those slack-waisted, holey undies were to perish in a freak bonfire incident?

In my experience, there’s often been a dreadful pair of jeans at the heart of these issues.  Did you know, for example, of the existence of drawstring-waist denim slacks?  I did not, until my ex-boyfriend subjected me to this horror show.  The current Boy has a decent clothing selection, notably improved by my patient and persistent efforts (even he will grudgingly agree).  It’s taken time, it’s taken strategy, but I’ve managed to outfit him in a number of wardrobe essentials that show off his form to pleasing effect.  For me, style and image are less of an issue than flattering cuts, and a lot of menfolk venture by default towards baggy and logo-heavy gear (especially frustrating if they have trim waists and broad shoulders to work with!).  Anyway, I am no stylista hell-bent on transforming my man into some GQ template, I just prefer that he wear the Good Jeans.

The Good Jeans work with a tee-shirt, a button-down, or a blazer.  They make his legs look long, his hips narrow, and present an (ahem) attractive package.  He loves these jeans, and actually has two good pairs: one dark, sharp denim and slim-fit, and one light, worn denim and boot-cut.  Why then, must he persist in clinging to the BAD JEANS, which are the antithesis of sex:  saggy, on the short side, and with a peculiarly nipped ankle given the way they balloon at the thighs.  They are dark denim, but thin material, with oversized pockets.  My dad, who is early-sixties and (rightly) couldn’t give a toss about fashion, would not be caught gardening in these pants; they are not even worthy of dad jeans!

torn20jeansI hate these jeans.  The Boy knows this, and has finally agreed not to wear them in public when I’m around, because they actually embarrass me.  I don’t care if this sounds shallow – I think he’s an attractive guy, and to wear these jeans is like spitting in the eye of good genetics and then peeing on the face of decent taste.  He has some other stuff I don’t care for (the aforementioned logo-shirts, a nappy hoodie, elf shoes), but nothing gets under my skin like the Bad Jeans. 

After some brief thought, I deduced three basic criteria that can make an item of your partner’s clothing sufficiently unlikable to be worthy of purging.  They are:

  1. Aesthetics.  As with the Bad Jeans described above, these pieces of clothing are essentially unbecoming and/or flat-out ugly. 
  2. Connotation.  Whether it’s a throwback to your partner’s unfortunate days as a hippie street-artist, frat experiences, or a gift from his/her ex, it reminds you of a facet of their life on which you’d rather not focus.
  3. Offensiveness.  Your partner’s “Naked Beach Volleyball” tee-shirt probably fits all three of these classifications.  But add to this category anything sexist, racist, ignorant, or scatological in “humor.”

In the interest of fairness, my own wardrobe is by no means Vogue-worthy.  Through trial and error, I’ve learned that pencil skirts (however adorable) are a basic no-no on my saddlebags and drawn as I may be to loud orange and pea-green prints, I lack the general flair required to carry them off without looking like a 1970s sofa cushion.  The current Boy hates my comfort sweater, a shapeless gray blob that I’ll slip into when I’m feeling the need for a nap, or want to drink wine on the sofa (i.e. a lot).  Out of deference, I don’t wear it too much while he’s around, and am considering culling it from my wardrobe because I have some more attractive options that are just as snuggly, and maybe it’s time to let it go.

The problem is, once a much-loved piece of your own clothing has been identified as a source of dislike, you may feel a tendency to cling to it.  A case in point is my thread-bare tee-shirt advertising the island of St. Thomas, which proclaims (in vintage script): ‘I Slept On a Virgin Island.”  I actually found this shirt in an abandoned vacation home in high school, and it is probably 20 to 30 years old.  It is a lovely, pale azure color and soft as an angel’s ass.  I love it.  And my mother, predictably, has hated it for the ten years I’ve clung to it.

After two instances of turning my closet inside-out searching for my Virgin Island tee (and finally locating in the kitchen trash – subtle, Mom!), I whisked it off to college and relative safety.  Stubbornly, this shirt has followed me to eight different homes in five cities and I will probably continue to wear it until it actually rots or I do (I would never give it to my future kids, because it’s tacky). 

So, to repeat the original question, what item/s in your partner’s wardrobe are the source of deep-seated hatred?  Be descriptive, and be brutal, friends, because you may never be victorious.

(Image via Nanda’s Red Blanket, a lovely and serious blog about grieving, with no disrespect to the author.)