I’ve settled on my pandemic wardrobe. It’s not new, actually. It’s pretty much the same wardrobe I selected for retirement.

I stopped clocking into the office, except for the occasional bit of freelance work.

My wardrobe combines comfort with haute couture. I’m not sure what haute couture is. I think it has something to do with fashion. And what could be more fashionable than matching your flip-flops to the right socks?

My preferred socks are seven-year-old white cotton models. One-size-fits all. Holes in the heels. The toes even have a stripe to tell you which way is up. Exclusively from the House of Costco.

My flip-flops are some kind of rubber. I slip my foot under a strap and I’m ready for the runway, which is usually the distance from the front door to the newspaper at the end of the driveway.

The flip-flops are a return to the footwear of my youth. On Guam, we wore zoris, rubber soles with a strap between your toes. We wore them everywhere. To the beach. To the movie theater. To the burger shack. We didn’t need socks, as it was always about 88 degrees — rain or shine. Mostly rain.

Now socks are a key part of my pandemic wardrobe, except in summer — which runs from April through October.

For pants, I’ve gone stretchy. I pull them up around my waist and the elastic band does the rest. The stretchy pants are only slightly older than my socks. On the left side, the elastic band has torn loose. That’s OK. I use it like a strap to pull my pants up. I’m told you can’t patent fashion design. Too bad. I can only imagine all the knockoffs.

For shirts, I’ve gone collarless. T-shirts, if you will. I’m a person of few words. My T-shirts speak for me. They say: “Boyce Thompson Arboretum,” “Andalusia: Home of Flannery O’Connor,” “Casa Grande Ruins National Monument” and something about a coffee shop somewhere in Massachusetts, where our daughter lives.

My T-shirts would make great conversation pieces in any mixer. We don’t attend many of those now, with COVID and all. As for Cindy, she’s not really into men’s pandemic fashion.

She’s not one to chirp: “I like your choice of T-shirts today. It really speaks to the global shame of vaccine shortages in underserved countries.”

And I’d say: “Yeah, ‘Books you don’t need in a place you can’t find’ does make a statement.” It’s on a T-shirt I bought at a Massachusetts bookstore.

To be honest, my fashion sense isn’t for everybody. In the mornings, when I get the paper, I sometimes spot John and Aaron walking their dog. They’re very friendly. John’s a commercial photographer. Aaron’s a model. Their dog, Ginger, is a rescue. They make a very good couple. And they always look good in casual dress. By casual, I mean several steps above eight-year-old stretchy pants.

If I see them, I sometimes duck behind the creosote. They might not appreciate my haute couture. Or my COVID-inspired Ben Franklin hairdo.

I sometimes wonder if I could use a pandemic upgrade. A nice terrycloth robe perhaps. Or pajamas.

Pajamas would convey their own message: “I’m in lockdown, and I’m never coming out.”

I can’t remember wearing pajamas as a kid. Maybe I did. They probably had pictures. Cars or airplanes or something. A repeating pattern. My adult pajamas would show the First Amendment, as displayed at Arizona State Capitol’s Wesley Bolin Plaza.

There, the First Amendment is etched in a large stone, something of a monolith. The stone is first in a line of stones, each etched with one of the 10 amendments that make up the Bill of Rights.

My pajamas would picture that first stone, repeated like a pattern on wallpaper.

I happen to be a big fan of the First Amendment, as are most — if not all — media types. The religiously minded and not-so religiously minded like the First Amendment, too, as does just about anybody with a gripe to air.

In a nutshell, the First Amendment bars the government from establishing a religion and from prohibiting its free exercise. It also says the government can’t abridge freedom of speech or press, as well as the right of people “peaceably to assemble…”

The Founding Fathers were not the type to split infinitives.

Still, I’m not quite ready for pajamas. I could easily fit the First Amendment on a T-shirt. For now, I’ll settle for “Denizens of the Book Nook.” My daughter gave it to me. It has a picture of a lizard lounging on a chair.

It makes a statement, along with my flip-flops and my threadbare socks.


Reach contributing writer Bill Coates at bccoates@cox.net.