Function vs. Fashion


If you like to dress like a fool, clear a place in your heart and build a closet in your garage. The fashion police are not welcome on or near the water, and so the fishing outfit has evolved beyond the pocketed vest. Less about self-expression and more about survival, I have experienced shore lunches that could cause the average waistband to fail. I believe that function comes first, but also that the senses of an angler are so refined that they can’t help but make a fashion statement.

Neil Young sings about a time when “people wore what they had on”. Denim and cotton and flannel and wool are what have me covered. Clothes made from such fabrics can take a misplaced ash from a cigar without melting. They can dry by campfire, and over time they will smell like grandpa. This style of outfit could be considered “hipster” if I wore it to ride a girl’s five-speed bike through rush hour traffic while balancing a fine coffee. Fishing makes it authentic.

“Fancy shirts” are growing in popularity and neon is having a resurgence. If you are a tournament angler, well then all the power to you. Sell the bottom of your sweatpants, if there’s an audience. However, this trend seems to be spreading to folks who you would otherwise expect to be sponsored by bacon, sunflower seeds, toothpicks, and toilet bowl cleaner. I shouldn’t complain because anglers are not known for being easy on the eyes, but another thing I like about the wilderness is that there are no billboards. There is nothing wrong with only fishing on days and in places where no shirt is required. This applies for both fishermen and fisherwomen. Often the physique alone of a seasoned angler is a marvel for onlookers, however under these circumstances, it is the fishing hat that completes the look. A proper hat can make a fishing outfit, so please consider the following guidelines:

Fishing has a special place for hats with vulgar slogans and mesh backs. Novelty hats that incorporate the head and tail of a stuffed fish have also proven timeless. Choose these hats with caution as they have a history of transforming the wearer into a know-it-all that stumbles and slurs.

A natural choice incorporates the broad leaves of tropical plants and is often accessorized with fruit appliques or exotic chicken feathers. These hats may have housed seabirds or crabs at one time or another, and in emergency circumstances can be smoked or used as a fire starter.

Desert hats combine a ball cap with two hankies that cover your neck and create a mullet-like aura. Found in a checkerboard print, while under boat power, these treasures should be secured with a roach clip to your Quiet Riot t-shirt.

Bandanas are somewhat acceptable. Good varieties encourage patriotism and express a love for flames. Bad varieties encourage gang violence, swashbuckling, and a sway like Axl Rose. Ponytails can complement a good bandana.

Avoid hats suitable for a skipper and that popular brand of canvas adventurer hats that are often worn by retired teachers reading the free newspaper at the library. Especially when secured around the neck with their handy tie-cord, these hats seem to trap hot air and cause the head to swell. And jerks wear Tilley hats.

In summary, clothes are only necessary if they keep you fishing longer. This great sport has proven to be good grooming for a proud and confident man who is not afraid to take risks and weather criticism. And so to all those family members who think my wardrobe is in need of refreshing, please don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.

John Toone produced the documentary film The Private Lives of Wild Creatures that will premiere at the Gimli Film Festival on July 23rd.


About Author

John Toone is a writer and businessman from Winnipeg, Canada. His creative work includes books like Fishin' For Dumbasses (Great Plains) and From Out of Nowhere (Turnstone Press). He is a partner in Electric Monk Media, creators of virtual reality and motion picture experiences like the documentary film The Private Lives of Wild Creatures and the video game Phantom of the Forest. John Toone is a hunter, fisherman, gatherer, home-schooler, woodlot manager, green thumb and jack-of-all-trades. Please visit

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