I was at a wedding reception this afternoon for two nice guys, Vady Halston-Darwin and his husband Wes Darwin-Halston. (Congratulations again, you two: long life and happiness!) The location was beautiful, the guests were having a good time, the music was great, and in Second Life, if people compliment the food, you know you’ve done something special — a table of gumbo and other southern delicacies to match the Mardi Gras theme was a delightful idea.
The invitation said “Casual/Mardi Gras”, but, you know, for a wedding reception, you want to show up looking like you took a little bit of trouble if only so you’ll look nice in the pictures. Unfortunately, what with one thing and another, I didn’t have a lot of time to put together an outfit. In fact I had approximately ten minutes, which was only enough time to find a shirt that covered my navel. Seriously — it’s the first time in weeks that my navel has been covered. My go-to outfit these days is a little tank top and a pair of low-cut jeans.
Now, that has to do with a couple of things. Principally it has to do with the fact that there’s not as much available for a l’Uomo avatar in the way of clothes as there are for non-mesh bodies. Non-mesh avs can go and get a well-designed business suit “off the rack” and it will fit them beautifully; they can shop at hundreds of stores, perhaps thousands. I’m not sure how many stores sell clothes for l’Uomo avs, but I think it’s fewer than 50. The other thing that affects my wardrobe choices is that — well, I’ve chosen to look like a professional bodybuilder, and the designers who design for my body have borne that in mind when they design clothes. As I have half-jokingly remarked in the past, I only have a few choices for the “looks” from which I can select: off-duty stripper, off-duty escort, off-duty personal trainer, on-duty leatherman or nudist. The T-shirt and jeans you see in the picture are very nearly as sedate as I can get without going to my all-purpose tuxedo. I’ve seen one or two business suits for l’Uomo avs and, while I’m sure they’re well designed, a guy my size just looks like a dressed-up gorilla either in RL or SL.
But if you have a good close look at my lousy photograph by clicking to expand it, you’ll see something else that’s a problem. It’s a little easier to see in the second picture; it looks as though there are holes in the shirt over the rear head of my shoulder muscle; if they weren’t so symmetrical, it might have been that someone splashed me with acid, or that I flexed my muscles the wrong way and tore the shirt. As most of you will know, what it means is that I’m not wearing the correct alpha layer between my mesh skin and my shirt. And I think you know that it’s just as tacky to go out to a wedding reception with holes in your shirt in SL as it would be in RL.
I have to confess, I’m not absolutely sure how this all works, in a technical sense, but it’s something that I constantly find infuriating. I can only rarely manage to find a shirt/alpha combination that manages to cover my shoulders properly — when I do, I immediately save it so I can go back to it, and I’m never really sure that it’s going to work properly when I return to that outfit. I know that alphas hide what’s underneath them and don’t allow your skin to show through your T-shirt; I have no idea how it works, though. And what I find truly annoying is that whether it works properly or not can depend upon which order you add your layers, which is kind of like magical thinking. It’s almost as though you have to cross your fingers in real life to make it work.
As it happens, it always seems to be my shoulders that poke through my shirts, and so I have come to rely on tank tops. And that means that I am misleading the designers who want me to look like an off-duty personal trainer. (“See, he wants to look like that, so let’s do more tank tops and crop tops!”) So out of this experience today, two things. (1) I would like to have an ordinary button-down dress shirt that covers me above the waist, with no holes, maybe — and this is just a wild suggestion here — maybe with an included alpha layer and directions on what to put on first. (2) My apologies to Vady and Wes for showing up at their beautiful and cleverly-planned wedding reception looking like a doofus. I had a great time, and feel free to crop me and my stupid shoulders out of the pictures.