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An inquiry into the topological ordering of casual American male dress

The dressing and arming of a warrior is a common set scene in epic poetry, e.g., Iliad 2:

He put on a soft khiton,
fine and newly made, and put around himself a great cloak.
Under his shining feet he fastened fine sandals
and around his shoulders he placed a silver-studded sword.
He took up the ancestral scepter which is always unwilting.

The structure and contents of such scenes have been well-studied by scholars, e.g., Armstrong 1958, and even parodied, as in Pope’s mock epic The Rape of the Lock:

Now awful Beauty puts on all its Arms;
The Fair each moment rises in her Charms,
Repairs her Smiles, awakens ev’ry Grace,
And calls forth all the Wonders of her Face;
Sees by Degrees a purer Blush arise,
And keener Lightnings quicken in her Eyes.
The busy Sylphs surround their darling Care;
These set the Head, and those divide the Hair,
Some fold the Sleeve, while others plait the Gown;
And Betty‘s prais’d for Labours not her own.

However, the dressing of the 21st Century casual American male appears to lack rigorous analysis, a deficiency I hope to remedy, at least in the area of furthering understanding of the dependency constraints of this activity.

It is well-known that underpants must be donned before pants.  Despite the intriguing experimentation by Rowan Atkinson no practical alternative has been found.   Similarly, socks must be put on before shoes, pants before shoes, and both pants and shirt before the belt can be buckled.

Illustrating the topological ordering as direct graph, we have the following:


2014-08-05 14.37.06

Dependency analysis


Within these constraints many dress orderings are possible, some of the more common ones beings:

  • underwear, socks, pants, shirt, shoes, belt
  • underwear, pants, shirt, belt, sock, shoes
  • underwear, shirt, pants, socks, belt, shoes

Orderings like the above are familiar to most people.   However, there are many other possibilities, some perhaps worthy of further exploration:

  • socks, shirt, underwear, pants, shoes, belt
  • shirt, socks, underwear, pants, belt, shoes

It will also be appreciated by those practiced in the art that the two socks need not be put on together.  This permits extravagant ordering like:

  • left sock, shirt, underwear, pants, belt, right sock, shoes
  • right sock, underwear, pants, left sock, shoes, shirt, belt

There is also nothing that prevents a Towers of Hanoi approach for those with time to kill, where -X indicates that X is to be removed:

  • pants, shoes, shirt, -shoes, socks, -pants, underwear, pants, shoes, belt

Hopefully the above gives ideas for further exploration and experimentation.  Although we do not dress and arm ourselves to fight the Trojans, our morning ritual can be equally an epic experience!

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • John LeJeune 2014/08/09, 2:34 pm

    And. . . to prevent the spread of athletes foot to the nether regions, socks always first then underwear etc. Least we have transmission of critters from foot to ball.

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