Why do so many people think the arrival of summer means it's time to pack away all the clothes that actually fit them? That it's time to reveal their out-of-shape bodies by wearing Speedos and tube tops?
On that show "Cops," every time they show up to arrest some guy, he answers the door (or climbs out the back window) shirtless. It's as if shirts hurt criminals the way Kryptonite hurts Superman. Do their shirts cause a rash, or are they just trying to keep them clean for their parole officers? You don't want to show up for an important meeting with crack ashes all over your only shirt, do you?
Going skimpy is one thing if you're the reigning Mr. or Miss America; it's quite another if you're just some ordinary working schlub waiting to buy a soft-serve ice cream cone in the summer heat. I don't want to stand behind you wondering if you comb your back hair or if it just naturally looks that way.
I remember the first time I saw a sign that said, "No shirt, no shoes, no service." It struck me as extremely funny you would have to tell someone they're expected to wear a shirt and shoes when they're not actually on the beach. Doesn't everyone know that? Or is there a sign on the inside of everyone's front door that says, "Don't forget to wear pants today!"
I grew up near a beach town with plenty of tourists. Just because they were on vacation, they didn't seem to think they had suddenly turned into swimsuit models with buns of steel or that they should suddenly start dressing as if they had gotten there by hopping a freight train. They seemed to know that it's not right to break fashion rules on vacation any more than it is to break traffic laws.
If you are not an Olympic swimmer or diver, or European, do not wear a Speedo. I'm not nearly as afraid of creeping European-style socialism as I am of creepy European-style beachwear.
Don't put that white zinc oxide on your nose if you're not a lifeguard. Even if you are a lifeguard, it's questionable. Sunscreen and a hat will work just fine -- and I'm talking about a real hat, not one that holds two beer cans.
Wear age-appropriate clothing. Spandex is not supposed to have wrinkles. If you have the body of a shuffleboarder, don't dress like you're a volleyballer. You may win the volleyball match, but only by default because everyone has left in disgust.
"Let It All Hang Out" is a song, not fashion advice. Save it for when you're alone at the cement pond.
Contact Jim Mullen at JimMullenBooks.com.