Style informs much of what I do. I don’t always look perfect or particularly dressed up, but whether I’m planning the outfit for my own wedding or for landscaping my yard on a hot summer day, I choose something appropriate in terms of look and functionality. No matter what the circumstance, I want my outfit to look intentional.
“Even if I’m just walking down the block for take-out coffee,” I’ve said, “I still have to accessorize.”
Accessories offer an easy way to dress pragmatically. For example, my general uniform for weekend daytime running around includes a lot of Dickies wear. (A friend once said I wore “The Dickies Trifecta” when she saw me in a Dickies work shirt, shorts, and light jacket.) With a couple of these items as a foundation, I can take it in numerous directions. A newsboy-style cap, leather jacket, and combat boots with lots of silver jewelry and a big watch nudge it toward a punk-rock aesthetic. A short-brim fedora, a Kikwear waist-cut jacket, and black leather lug-sole shoes dress it up slightly. Vans and a baseball cap, meanwhile, give it more of a BMX or skater feel.
During the week, I often dress up for no reason other than to look good. We at Catster HQ work from home two or three days a week, so when I take to the San Francisco streets I’m motivated to make my look count. As I’ve documented here recently, I added several bow ties to my wardrobe this summer, and I also dyed a pair of salmon-colored trousers I got on eBay to make them a deep, rich red.
For nights out, I employ any number of looks involving blazers, sweaters, vintage ties, fur-felt hats, velvet vests, and even a brocade men’s corset I helped construct. For Very Special Occasions, I have two tuxedos — one is a set of tails (including a collapsible top-hat) while the other is built around a one-button, notch-lapel jacket, pleated white shirt, and black bow tie. (I’m wearing that one when my lovely, talented fiancee Daphne and I get married in October.)
Sometimes I take wacky wardrobe turns. On Labor Day weekend, for example, Daphne and I went to a cultural conglomeration called the Scottish Games. There, burly Scotsmen hurled towering wooden poles into the air, multiple clans reunited to talk about family lineage, and people of all backgrounds sipped fine whiskey. Incidentally, I came home with a kilt — and wore it for the first time on Tuesday.
“Dandy,” I hear you asking, “how does this relate to cats?”
Catster Community Manager Lori Malm recently speculated that I must have a fabulous variety of cat-themed clothing.
(And I paraphrase) “Are you mad?” I replied.
“You know, like maybe a cool bow tie with cats on it?” she said.
“Are you MAD?” I paraphrased again.
I told her I wasn’t really into that sort of thing, but I do have some cat-themed items, and I’m sure more exist that I would wear. Thus was born the idea for today’s column.
First, though, I’ll touch on a sensibility that’s quite relevant here: I’m not a T-shirt kind of guy. I don’t like labels or logos that everyone recognizes. I refuse to “Just Do It.” I won’t ride on the back of Tommy Hilfiger or Kenneth Cole, as fun as that might be in real life. To me that’s free advertising for companies with money to spend on billboards and TV ads. Also, I use clothing to express my personal aesthetic, not what brands I like or what causes I support, including animal advocacy. I believe we humans can do a lot more through our actions than we can by displaying words on shirts or bumper stickers.
As you can see, this blocks a lot of cat-themed clothing from draping itself on my person. That said, I don’t exclude all cats. In fact, I have one — Felix — tattooed on my right shoulder. This was my first tattoo, and part of my motivation was the fact that I’d carried Felix with me on pinbacks and patches for a long time. He was thus a good candidate to take up permanent residence on my form.
I still carry Felix several places. He inhabits, for example, a patch on the front of my burgundy nylon flight jacket.
On this patch, Felix carries a bomb. It’s an old U.S. Navy squadron symbol used by VF-3 and VF-31. Pilots for the latter squadron, appropriately, used to fly the F-14 Tomcat. (My dad was a Navy aviator, so I learned about this sort of thing.) I’ve worn similar patches several times over the years, including as early as 1989 in the photo below on my first motorcycle leather.
I like Felix because he displays style that other cartoon cats lack. He was born near the beginning of the 20th century, and he carries an almost Art Deco sensibility. This Fossil watch I found on eBay is one I’d gladly wear. Its rectangular design, display font, and metal accents that diminish in size leading to the band enhance the Deco feeling.
Next up is a lapel pin I’ve told you about before. It’s from PyroPets, a maker of cat-shaped candles that have metal skeletons inside, which we’ve featured here on Catster. The pin is a black cartoonish cat head with a chrome skull in the center. (Thanks, Vicky Walker.)
Another cat-themed item that embodies mischief is this cat-skull-and-crossbones patch I picked up at the Scottish Games, the same place I got the kilt. (It reminds me of an outlaw kitty keychain sold on Etsy.) The vendor selling it carried hundreds of embroidered patches (many of them with Scots themes), and this one does it for me. I’ll tell you when it finds a place in my wardrobe to call home.
Daphne helped with this post by searching the web for things that I’d like, as well as things I’d hate (more on that below) and things she wants me to get her for her upcoming birthday. From that search, here are some items I’d consider wearing and might buy.
These “catmeo” cuff links from Etsy are elegant enough for the sharp-dressed cat-loving guy without being loud or silly.
This sterling silver pin from the 1950s or ’60s, also from an Etsy vendor, would look fab on the lapel of a black or burgundy blazer as well as a more casual waist-cut bomber jacket.
Cats on the necktie below from Zazzle form the Yin-Yang design. This is a tie I could wear with a dark-colored shirt and blazer to, say, a work-related awards dinner or nighttime event and feel stylish while still subtle.
This is not clothing, but rather an automobile accessory — a license plate frame — and it’s not real. I got a silly idea, then found a picture online with the necessary letters and had a little fun with Photoshop. It embodies the kind of absurd humor that keeps my motor running, and if someone makes it, I’ll have it.
That’s enough fun for today. Next time I’ll show you some things I wouldn’t wear even if I lost a bet.
In the meantime, what cat-themed clothing and accessories do you wear? What’s your fashion strategy? Does your cat agree with you? Does he dress better than you do? Tell me in the comments.
Every girl’s crazy ’bout a sharp-dressed Cat Dandy:
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.