One day last week GLH walked into the kitchen for breakfast.
I glanced his way, then did a double-take. "Is that what you're going to wear?"
GLH looked down at his checkered shirt, patterned tie and houndstooth jacket.
"Yes," he said.
Speaking as kindly as I could under the circumstances I said, "Sweetie, I'm not sure that all works together."
"But," he said quite earnestly, "this is what men in Europe wear. All sorts of crazy shirt and tie combinations. You just don't know because you don't see it every day."
Still doubtful, I said "There seems to be a lot going on there. But if that's what you want to wear. Just make sure that the people you work with know that I had nothing to do with it."
That evening when GLH came home I asked how it went with the clothing.
"Well, they didn't think it worked either. Apparently if you go with the patterned shirt and patterned tie you need to either match colors. Or match patterns. Or something like that. Not really sure. But I think I need new ties."
In his defense, it is very difficult. Men's fashion in Europe is quite different and much more complicated than in the United States.
In the US it is straight forward and very little has changed in nearly a hundred years of men's fashion. As long as you don't take into account those unfortunate years in the 60's and 70's. But even those years make warped sense. Everyone was doing too many drugs.
Regardless, in general men's business wear involves simple lines, dark colors and very few patterns. The emphasis is on looking as masculine as possible.
It is much harder in Europe where you routinely see grown men, not just high school and college boys, wearing clothing such as neon green corduroy skinny slacks with a bright orange jacket and an extra long purple scarf. Or a multi-colored checkered shirt with a bright pink tie. Or even brightly colored plaid capris with dark socks and dark shoes! (No, I am NOT making this up!)
Side note: with these extreme differences, is it any wonder the European males frequently think American males are brawny, overbearing chest-beaters? Or that American males tend to question the sexual orientation of European males?
But as we are living in Europe, GLH is doing the admirable thing. He is trying to follow the local customs. And failing. But at least he is trying.
So now we are on the hunt for new ties that will go with checkered shirts.
But if GLH ever comes home with a pair of capris, I am putting my foot down.