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Clothes, Additional Subthemes

Subthemes: Personality, Records, Expressions

The penumbral subthemes of Clothes discussed above arise from four works of art: a movie culminating with a stunningly dressed Audrey Hepburn, a Robert Herrick poem about silken sheen, a Rolling Stones rebuke of expensive clothes, and a painting of variously-clad bathers and sunbathers. We have a few more subthemes to present.

Personality: For most people, their overall personality matches the clothes they choose to wear. Extroverts, egotists, and exhibitionists preen about in showy or exaggerated garb; quiet folk stick to a plainer, more ordinary look. Artsy folk use jewelry, piercings, and clothes style to express their aesthetic orientation; pragmatic philistines slap on whatever lasts for a long time and doesn’t require ironing. Some clothes horses accumulate racks of shoes or purses if they suffer from oniomania (compulsive shopping). What we wear signals our place in the world: clique or gang, goth or preppie, young professional or bohemian, metrosexual or farmer, academic or athlete – the gamut of humanity. We are what we wear.

Records: As with everything human, we can present the most, the biggest, the oldest and other records associated with Clothes. We have already ogled the most expensive dress.

• Oldest woven garment – Called the Tarkhan Dress, it probably fell past the knees originally. At 5,100 to 5,500 years old, it dates to the dawn of the kingdom of Egypt. National Geographic

• Most expensive British Royalty outfit – Kate Middleton’s wedding dress cost an estimated $332,000. Insider

• Most expensive fabric – Vicuña Wool is the most expensive wool in the world. It comes from Peru’s Vicuña sheep in the Central Andes, which can only be shorn once every three years. Expect to pay at least $50,000 for a bespoke vicuña suit. Luxatic

• Most shoes owned by a woman – Darlene Flynn had amassed 14,684 shoe-related items, when it was verified by Guinness World Records as the world’s largest. Guinness World Records

• Largest clothes closet – Houston, Texas based entrepreneur and philanthropist Theresa Roemer built a 3,000 square foot, three-story closet in her home, at a cost of nearly half a million dollars. StyleCaster

• Most expensive shoes sold – In 2019, a rare pair of 1972 Nike ‘Moon Shoes’ set a Guinness World Record as the most expensive shoes ever sold: $437,500. This shoe was created by Nike co-founder and then Oregon track coach Bill Bowerman and it was the first instance of Nike‘s waffle sole traction. Bro Bible

Expressions: People speaking with each other rely on clothes references in a figurative sense. Here are 112 idiomatic sayings that refer to an item of clothing but apply more broadly. They come from various sources and my own experience. The online sources include Young Post, Owlcation, and English Club. The first cluster includes expressions that refer to clothes in general. The following clusters start with hats and move down the body.

hand-me-down (an old, used piece of clothing gotten from someone else)
air dirty laundry (talk openly about subjects that should be kept private)
birthday suit (not wearing any clothes)
burst at the seams (too full)
buttoned-down (conservative, unimaginatively conventional)
clothes horse (someone who pays careful attention to their attire and spends a lot)
cut from the same cloth (have a lot in common, share a lot of similarities)
dressed to kill (wearing fancy clothes for a special occasion)
dressed to the nines/to the teeth (extremely stylishly or pleasingly clothed)
emperor’s new clothes (a delusion of another person punctured by a neutral person)
fall apart at the seams (declining or deteriorating and no longer as useful)
get all dolled up (get fashionably dressed)
steal someone’s clothes (claim another person’s ideas as your own)
tailor made (bespoke, suits perfectly)
wolf in sheep’s clothing (a bad person who pretends to be nice and caring)
bright as a button (very intelligent and smart)
come into fashion ( to become popular)
dressed like a dog’s dinner (dressed in very showy clothes that attract negative attention)
dyed in the wool (extending full support especially to political parties)
fashion plate (wearing the newest trends in style and fashion)
fashion victim (a person who follows popular fashions slavishly)
first In, best dressed (the first people to do something will have an advantage)
gussied up (well dressed)
mutton dressed as lamb (a middle-aged or a old woman dressed like a younger woman)
on pins and needles (worried about something)
out of fashion (No longer considered fashionable or trendy)
power dressing (dressing to show one’s position in business or politics)
rags to riches (going from being poor to rich)
shipshape and bristol fashion (in perfect order)
wear sackcloth and ashes (displays their grief or contrition publicly)

at the drop of a hat (with no hesitation, without waiting)
feather in your cap (an accomplishment or recognition to be proud of)
hat trick (three successes by one person)
have a bee in one’s bonnet (something annoying someone)
with hat/cap in hand (seeking a favor with supplication)
toss your hat in the ring (announce publicly that you will contend for a job or role)
old hat (not new, used or done for a long time)
take your hat off/doff to someone (recognize or honor the person)
put on your thinking cap (think seriously about something)
all hat, no cattle (someone talks big, but can’t back it up)
cap in hand (humbly ask for forgiveness or money)
knock into a cocked hat (one is much better)
wear many hats ( have different roles or tasks to perform)

big girl’s blouse (a weak or a fussy person)
black tie event (formal event)
blue collar (manual labor)
fine-tooth comb (do something in detail, extremely carefully)
give someone the shirt off your back (to be extremely generous to someone)
keep your shirt/pants on (tell someone to try to stay calm)
lose your shirt (lose much money from a failed business, the stock market, or gambling)
hot under the collar (very angry)
roll up your sleeves (get ready to do a tough task or an important assignment)
wear your heart on your sleeve (show emotions publicly and without discretion)
have an ace up your sleeve (a secret idea or advantage that can be used if and when needed)
off the cuff (speak without having prepared or thought about your words first)
treat with kid gloves (deal with someone gently or carefully)
fit like a glove (match or complement perfectly)

below the belt (a remark or act that is very insulting and unfair)
belt and suspenders (wanting several safety procedures in place to minimize risk)
tighten your belt (spend less money than you did before)
buckle down (start working hard)
apron strings (a man who is excessively dependent on a woman)
deep pockets (wealthy)
hand in glove (extremely close relationship)
white collar (office labor)

skirt chaser (synecdoche for a man who pursues women for sex)
caught with your pants down (surprised and embarrassed because not ready for something)
fly by the seat of your pants (do by instinct or trial and error, not by plan or practice)
have ants in your pants (can’t keep still because of excitement or worry)
“keep his zipper shut” (wants to have sex often)
wear the pants in the family (a woman who is the breadwinner and runs the family)
don’t wet your pants (don’t be afraid, or get to excited)
shorts/panties in a wad/knot (all confused or upset)
pantywaist (a feeble or effeminate person)
all talk and no trousers (only talk, no action)
gray suits (people who have a lot of power in business or politics)
have one’s collar felt (being arrested)
lay a glove on (strike a blow against someone)
notch on one’s belt (a success or achievement that might help one in the future)
throw down the gauntlet (issue a challenge to somebody)
velvet glove (a person who appears gentle, but is determined and inflexible underneath)

burn a hole in your pocket (spend money quickly without much thought)
line your pockets (make money from shady deals, graft, corruption)
pick your pocket (steal from you)
someone is in another person’s pocket (controlled by the other person)
out of pocket (expenses or disbursements charged to a client) laugh up one’s sleeve (laugh at someone secretly)
piss in one’s pocket (insincerely attempt to convince a person about doing a favor)
stuffed shirt (a person who is very serious or formal)
under the belt (already achieved something)
fancy pants (superior or high-class in a pretentious way)
knock one’s socks off (amazing and surprising in a positive way)
smarty pants (someone who displays the intelligence in an annoying way)

cloak-and-dagger (covert, secretive, like spy operations)
ride her coattails (let someone else do the work and you coast behind)

excused boots (allowed to avoid mandatory tasks)
fill one’s boots (you can help yourself to as much as you want of something)
get the boot (get fired)
have deep pockets (to be wealthy)
keep something zipped up (keep something a secret)
knickers in a twist (angry and snappish over something trivial)
trail one’s coat (act in a provocative way)
wear the trousers (be in charge)
hard on someone’s heels (close to someone and trying to catch or overtake them)
kick up one’s heels (go to parties or celebrate something)
lick someone’s boots (behave in a very servile manner)
quake in one’s boots (tremble with fear or apprehension)
soft shoe (speaking to someone or a speech given in a gentle or conciliatory way)
tough as old boots (strong and resilient)
under someone’s heel (under someone’s control)
if the shoe fits, wear it (an apt description of a person ought to be accepted by them)
put yourself in his shoes (imagine what it would be like to be in someone else’s situation)
walk a mile in her shoes/moccasins (try to understand someone before criticizing them)
on a shoestring (on a tiny budget)
hold his boots to the fire (keep the pressure on someone)
pull up your socks (try harder)
put a sock in it (stop talking)

down-at-the-heels (looks poor, wears worn-out, shabby clothes)
well-heeled (affluent)

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