What NOT to Wear: Cat Fashion Rules According to Cat Dandy


I pity certain retail salespeople who have to deal with me. Whoa whoa whoa now hold on. I hereby pre-emptively defend myself: I’m not a creep. On the contrary — I’m friendly, I love to talk, and I could (which is to say, I do) go on forever about certain topics with people I’ve just met.

“So, Cat Dandy,” I hear you thinking, “what you’re saying is you bore certain salespeople to death?”

Wrong again, honey. I pity certain salespeople in my presence because when it comes to clothes and accessories, I’m the hardest sale on the planet.

That’s an overstatement. But not by much. When I push open the glass doors of a Jos A Bank Clothiers or a Men’s Wearhouse, and I see Johnny Opportunist approaching with the floppy tape-measure around his neck, I stop him in his tracks before he can compliment me on my shoes or say how good I am at color coordination.

“OK look,” I say, apologetically. “Before you ask me anything, know that I’m nearly impossible to please. I’m here to look at [whatever]. Now, I’ve seen only about two of those in the past 10 years that I like. I prefer colors, cuts, and styles that aren’t manufactured very often. So before we start, know that you probably don’t have what I want. But let’s give it a go nonetheless.”

Why am I relating this to you? It helps explain why I’m about to do what I’m about to do, which is to identify cat-themed clothing and accessories that I wouldn’t wear, then sort of maybe make fun of some of them. Only, I won’t (really) make fun of them (much), and if I do (a little), remember that it’s mostly (probably) because the item I’ve found just isn’t right for me, but is perfect for someone else (and good luck with that).

As you can see, I’m pretty damn particular about what I wear. As I demonstrated in last week’s column on cat fashion, style informs most of what I do. I know what to wear, and I know what not to wear.

So let’s get to it. Here are a few things I won’t wear.

1. This necktie with cats all over it

I don’t know who makes this tie or where it comes from. My lovely, talented fiancee Daphne found the image on someone’s blog and sent it to me with the subject line “Under No Circumstances.” To be fair, the cat images are cute and well-rendered. But come on. When I put on a tie, it’s not because I want to look like I’m in the cast of Romper Room. And what’s with the shirt in the photo? Is the fabric burlap that someone’s trying to pass off as linen? And how about the buttons on the collar? Are they faux wood? Sorry. Not for this dandy.

OK. I feel much better now. Thanks.

2. This bow tie inhabited by three clones of the same tabby

This one’s a little better than the one above. (Not sure where it comes from either.) It’s more Dexter’s Lab than Romper Room, but still too gimmicky for me. When I put on a bow tie, I want the thought bubbles above observers’ heads to contain things such as Sharp! or Snazzy! or Southern gentleman! rather than cartoon boy genius. Again, the artwork is nicely done, but for me it’s trying too hard. (Daphne’s subject line on this: “I like bow ties, but no way.”)

3. This “Jaws” parody T-shirt showing a kitten with “Paws”

This image on this “Paws” T-shirt is hilarious. I love it. Thing is, as I said in last week’s column, I’m not really a T-shirt kind of guy. When I do wear a T-shirt, it’s usually black, with no logo or slogan or other graphic. I might send this image to someone if I found it on a postcard, say, in South Florida. Here’s another thing about shirts like this. In a way, I see them as kind of cheap shortcuts to being funny. Humor plays a big part in my life and how I engage with the world. Just the same, I’d rather be funny with my own words, timing, and actions than wear funny that was created by someone else. Of course there are exceptions, but this isn’t one. For me.

4. This “Real Men Love Cats” pendant

What rules out this Real Men Love Cats pendant for me are the words, not necessarily the jewelry itself. I’ve worn pendants for years and don’t consider myself fully accessorized without one. The “Real Men [Do Whatever]” approach makes me uneasy. We create so many reasons in our society to divide ourselves from each other, to oppose one another. This slogan is a proclamation of pride, but I’d rather share my love of cats with people in a way that doesn’t seem like a schoolyard challenge. Overall, it gives me the creeps to tell anyone who or what they should or shouldn’t love. Besides, I’m a complex individual — remember, I consider myself “a guy with a cat” rather than a “cat guy” — so I find things like this rather limiting in terms of what I present to the world about myself. I’d rather wear things that intrigue people or make them want to ask me questions rather than think, “Oh, it’s that cat guy again.”

5. This bomber jacket with a gigantic cat head on the back

I have a nylon flight jacket similar to this one. I showed you last week — it’s burgundy, and it’s adorned by a Navy squadron patch featuring Felix the Cat. But would I wear the one above? Sure. If I were naked, outdoors, in February, and it was raining really hard. (Translation: No.) I found this item on a Glamour blog. I don’t think is available anymore — it was a special project in 2013 by a group called Made Me, available through Urban Outfitters among other retailers. So, why does it miss? To me, it doesn’t even say “I’m a person who loves cats.” It more says “Ha! Made you look. Made you look! MADE YOU LOOK! Uh, why aren’t you looking?” A cat just happens to be the shock-content for this social transaction. Plus, giant cat. Neither subtle nor sharp, to my way of thinking.

Speaking of sharp, let’s follow the Cat Dandy into the real world for a fashion test drive.

The Corn-Dog Incident

Over the weekend I got to try a new outfit I showed you here last week — the red bow tie and pocket square with the gray blazer, black vest, red trousers, two-tone wingtips, and porkpie hat. Daphne and I went to the city of Folsom (between Sacramento and Gold Country) for a friend’s wedding. The outfit brought in compliments all evening. One person said I was the best-dressed man at the event. Daphne and I were done earlier than we expected, and we found ourselves needing a snack and some wine for the late-night hours in the hotel. Where does one go for things like that in Folsom? A gigantic discount grocery store, of course. It was too bizarre not to take funny photos of each other with certain products, so we did. (Daphne got the 55-gallon clear plastic drum of cheez balls.) Alas, even though we had a microwave in our hotel room, I didn’t buy the corn dogs despite my longings.

Thomas sees himself and me on a laptop

Unrelated to anything: On a recent day working from home, Daphne got this adorable shot of Thomas looking at the desktop image on her work computer. That’s my kitty.

What cat-themed clothing or accessories to you wear? Are there certain types you won’t wear? Where do you draw the line? Tell me in the comments.

Cat Dandy is pragmatically stylish:

About Keith Bowers: This broad-shouldered, bald-headed, leather-clad motorcyclist also has passions for sharp clothing, silver accessories, great writing, the arts, and cats. This career journalist loves painting, sculpting, photographing, and getting on stage. He once was called “a high-powered mutant,” which also describes his cat, Thomas. He is senior editor at Catster and Dogster.

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