It is a sure bet, I am certain, that I am not the only wife with a husband who cares little about clothes. Like many wives, particularly Southern ones, I purchase his clothes and put together his wardrobe.
Part of this is that he comes from 30 years in the television industry in Los Angeles where folks, even high-ranking executives, wear jeans and untucked shirts. When he came to the Deep South, I said, “Things are different here. We dress up to show respect. You need dressier clothes.” He grumbled under his breath but I put my foot down. Remember: I am one of the rare women who never wears pants to church or the funeral home.
A few months after we married, I was on the coast of Georgia and Tink was working in Los Angeles when he flew in to meet me for a week at Sea Island. I was going to pick him up at the airport and then we were heading straight to the Lodge for dinner with friends. I was still in the honeymoon phase where you don’t tell your husband what to do. The stage before a wife knows better than to be silent or subtle. I hinted strongly. “Now, the Lodge is dressy and we’re going straight to dinner so wear on the plane what you want to wear to dinner.”
All I could do was shake my head and bite my tongue when he came out of the terminal in an old plaid shirt and jeans that had spots of paint on them. After 15 minutes, the true wife in me came out and I could bite my tongue no longer.
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“You’re wearing jeans? With paint splatters? I told you that those were now work clothes.”
He shrugged. “They’re fine.” No pretensions about John Tinker. No sir. When we arrived for dinner, I was attired in Sunday dress while our friends paraded their three young boys down the staircase, all dressed in suits and ties. It didn’t bother Tink one bit. In fact, he didn’t even notice. I have a philosophy, though. One that is backed up by Miss Virgie, one of the South’s most outstanding women. It is this: Better to be overdressed than underdressed. Many are the times I have been way over-dressed. A couple of times I was under-dressed, and it was a miserable experience.
I bided my time before bringing it up with Tink one day as I dragged him into the suit department in an upscale Atlanta department store. “Like Mama used to say, ‘You’re gonna dress up and act like someone,’” I said. And so he has. He looks quite dashing in his suits and silk ties.
He had been in Canada working on his Hallmark Channel series when he discovered that the premier for “Chesapeake Shores” in Los Angeles was going to be a dressy event. He called. “I have nothing to wear. I’m going to have to go buy a suit.” Now, I knew that would be a nightmare. That he, impatient with clothes as he is, would grab the first thing he saw so I said, “I’ll overnight everything you need.”
When he got home, I said, “We’re going shopping.” He opened his mouth to protest and I held up my hand to stop his words. “I’m going to buy you Garanimals so you can dress yourself.”
Remember Garanimals where children could put their outfits together by matching the animal tags on the clothes? It’s still in business and owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire-Hathaway company. Unfortunately, they don’t make the adult version but guided by friend, Fletcher Miller, I bought clothes that Tink could easily match together and dress himself up.
Tink, to his credit, laughed about it and went along with it all. I wonder, though, if Buffett realizes how much profit there would be in Garanimals for husbands.
Ronda Rich, Southern author, writes the Dixie Diva column that appears in several newspapers.