Throwback Thursday: Captain Dapper Wore a Mullet in the Early 90's
The year was 1992. I was about to enter my senior year of high school and, thanks to the recommendation from a friend, I was able to score a huge discount on my senior portraits. There was a photo studio in a nearby town, she told me, that would offer a discount if you had your photos taken early and then helped spread the word about the studio. As a kid on a budget, I signed up immediately. My impossible vanity might have helped in that decision as well.
I remember it being hot on the day in early June when I went in to the photo studio. I spent more than an hour on my hair that morning and then realized that with the car windows down on the way to the studio, it would hardly matter. Of course, it didn't really matter anyway. I had a mullet for Pete's sake! Whether my hair was windswept or perfectly coiffed, I was still going to look back at the mullet in horror.
OK, so I guess we do need to keep in mind the time and place for this photo. In 1992, Billy Ray Cyrus was singing about his achy breaky heart while proudly wearing a long, wavy mullet. Although the mullet had started dying out in the late 80's, it was still quite popular with country singers. Yeah, OK, so even at the time I should have known that it didn't look good but, hey, I was a sixteen years old kid in rural Ohio. Cut me some slack!
Coming of age in rural Ohio, with the nearest sizable city more than an hour away, most of my shopping options involved Wal-mart and rural mall stores. While the options were limited, it didn't help that I had yet to learn that oversized clothes just made me look skinnier. The t-shirt I'm wearing under that vest? It was probably a large or an extra large. At 115 pounds, I could have fit two of me in it. I don't know why I was wearing clothes that that were two and three times too big, it was just the thing that kids did in rural Ohio. Well, it's the thing that teenage boys did.
A few months after sitting for the photographer, I began a slow evolution that would eventually lead to this. I cut off the mullet, dyed my hair black and started shopping in thrift stores. I discovered vintage clothes and started dressing in pieces that not only fit but worked with my body type. By the time I was passing out my senior pictures to classmates and relatives, I looked nothing like the kid in them. I would pass the picture to a classmate with the suggestion that they also have their photos taken at the studio I used. They would look down at the picture, of the blond kid they had known for the past few years, and then back up at the new me, with my jet black hair and thrift store flannel shirts. They must have thought, "What? So they can do to me what they did to you?!"
So what's the point of telling you all of this? I don't know. I came across this photo and it made me chuckle. I guess if there's any point, it's this: although I'd like the world to think that I've always been the stylish and sophisticated man I am today, it actually involved a great deal of evolution. I started out as a humble and naive kid in baggy clothes and bad hair and, although I hit a lot of other fashion mishaps along the way, I eventually grew into Captain Dapper. I experimented with styles and had fun with hair colors, all in the process of learning more about myself and my aesthetic. I eventually settled into a classic (albeit colorful) wardrobe sometime in my early thirties and I've been settled there ever since. I'm sure my "look" will continue to evolve and I'll probably look back the photos of me today and mock my fashion choices. But, hey, life and style are all about evolution. And if you can't laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?
Image: Jason Loper