Look At Those Clothes!

Musings on style and fashion

We’re Talkin’ Clothes Here #2


Photo by jdurham

Here, friends, is our second baker’s dozen of clothing-related expressions.  You’ll find a few sent along by alert readers like yourselves. And the challenge still stands: Send us your favorite clothing expressions and we’ll feature them in future posts, along with your name, if you’d like. As noted in We’re Talkin’ Clothes Here #1, We’re especially interested in expressions tied to specific regions of this country (the U.S. of A., that is) and to non-U.S. of A. cultures, continents, or nations. Now, put on your walkin’ shoes and come along to see what we’ve got …


1.  “Keep your shirt on.” Chill.

2. “Whoo, is he ever a stuffed shirt!” Stuffed clams are good, stuffed shirts are not. They are stiff, overly formal, uptight sorts of people whom we unstuffed types generally can’t abide. But  probably they don’t like us, either. So there.

Buttons by xenia

Photo by xenia

3.  “She’s really hot under the collar.” She’s mad, boy. Doesn’t much like being called a stuffed shirt.

4. “It was a real buttoned-down sort of party.” Formal, old-fashioned, and boring. Where all the stuffed shirts go.

5. “I’d give you the shirt off my back.” I’d do anything for you. Really. Anything. Except go to that party with all those stuffed shirts.

6. “She’s a shirt-tail relative.” A third cousin twice removed or some other distant relative. Or someone unrelated who’s treated like a member of the family (which good be a good thing or not such a good thing, depending on the family). Or a relative who’s not only distant but one whom you’re not all that happy to claim as your own; perhaps she tells the same horrible jokes every Thanksgiving and never helps with cleanup. Maybe she loves telling you why she is so-o-o-o wonderful and you are so not. Or she could just be a stuffed shirt.

7.  “She’s got something up her sleeve.” And it ain’t just her arm. No siree, the sly devil’s planning some clever move that will knock everyone’s socks off (see Shoes and Socks and Boots, below).


8.  “Now the shoe’s on the other foot!” (Thanks, Helen!) Ha, you arrogant twit! Now you’re in the same situation I was in and you’re doing the same dumb things you criticized me for doing, so you really are a twit and not all superior to me or anybody else and your shoes are ugly, too.

9.  “If the shoe fits, wear it.” Well, you arrogant twit, it’s you again, it is it?!?  Listen, those criticisms and disparaging remarks hanging in the air all around your silly head really do apply to you, so just man or woman up and own them.

This expression possibly evolved from Cinderella and her lost-slipper problem. except that of course she very much liked the fact that the shoe fit her, since that meant she and Prince Charming (or was that Prince Charmin, the bathroom tissue heir??) would live happily ever after. Or at least until he got tired of her shoe habit.

Photo bymissprint2  ("I'm a Sock Monkey! And you look scary.")

Photo by missprint2 (“I’m a Sock Monkey! And you look scary.”)

10.  “Walk a mile in his or her shoes.” Try living his or her life before you criticize him or her. Oh dear, now we’re embarrassed at our lack of empathy. Our apologies, Arrogant Twit.

11.  “Wow, that knocked my socks off!” That amazed me, like, totally.

12. “I pulled myself up by my bootstraps.”   Everything I got in this world I got for myself! Nobody helped me!! Nobody handed me anything!!! Nobody cut me a break!!!! Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen!!!!!

Te idea of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps reminds me of one of those weird childhood spasms of illogic that seem psychotic once you’re past  the age of 6: I used to wonder if I could pick myself up. Not jump, mind you, but actually pick myself up as if I were another person. OK, so maybe it’s a little weird even before the age of six.

13. “He died with his boots on.” He died in harness—no, wait, that belongs in the Collection of Horse Expressions just down the hall … try this: He died doing the job he always did, like The Gipper or John Wayne or George Burns. Actually, as Western as this expression sounds, it likely originated way back in the 17th century, when it meant either that you were a soldier who died in battle or you got yourself hanged, or maybe both. “Died in his shoes” was a variant until cowboy days. (Them people wouldn’t be caught dead in shoes, pardner; it wuz boots or nuthin’.)

Photo by taliesin

Photo by taliesin




Categories: We're Talkin' Clothes Here

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