Microsoft’s “normcore” clothing line made me feel very inappropriate

I’m not one to wear designer clothes. The closest thing to fashion is the pair of Doc Marten boots I once wore, bled in, and threw in the back of my closet so they can never hurt anyone again. And yet, when Microsoft asked me if I’d like to try some yarns from the new Hardwear clothing line (opens in a new tab)I once again had the chance to immerse myself in the lavish fashion lifestyle and rethink my stance on buying everything second-hand.

And so, my journey to becoming a “normcore” model for a day began.

The first hurdle was deciding on a size. Now I tend to buy clothes one size up so I can wear them as a dress if I feel like it. What I forgot to take into account is the difference between UK and US size – extra large seems to mean something different across the pond. In fact, I was sent an XXL which was a massive overcompensation for my little muffin-top, and frankly I’m drowning.

Katie Wickens wearing Microsoft's Hardwear clothing line.

(Image credit: future)

Although I had to roll up the sleeves of this huge denim jacket just to be able to type this, I will say that the jacket looks very nice. Good pockets big enough for big cheesy cell phones too. I’m sure this will be a great fall jacket for chilly evenings strolling around server rooms at work, or wherever normies like to hang out. It’s a bit odd that they put a print paragraph inside the jacket, though. Like I should take it off and be like, “Guys, guys, read my jacket!” I guess it’s a nod to the general theme of debatable wording, which we’ll get to in a moment.

I feel the need to hide the slogan from people, in case I get a complaint filed against me.

If the sizing fiasco wasn’t enough to put me off wearing designer clothes for good (although that’s entirely my fault), the fact that it started raining on my already heavy denim jacket did. really did not help the situation. Hauling ten pounds of soggy denim home is definitely work. Maybe I’ll just have to go to a bigger size next time.

And then there was the slogan for the T-shirt. I wasn’t really asked what t-shirt design I wanted, but I thought “how bad a fluke could it be?”

Boy, did I overestimate my luck.

Microsoft could have sent me a Bliss XP wallpaper print or a Windows 95 MS Paint icon t-shirt. But no. Instead, I got a slogan slapped across my chest that read, “It’s in you, not on you.”

For your average normie, there may be nothing about this statement. Maybe all they see is the serious positivity of “what matters inside”. But in the circles I float in, and even among my esteemed colleagues, you can bet someone has made a racy comment or two. Don’t worry, it’s nothing I had to contact HR about, but you have to admit there’s potential for misinterpreted innuendo here.

Hardware Manager Dave James Experience

“I’m mad at myself,” my long-suffering wife says as I walk through the door. “I shouldn’t have let you get away with that. You basically walked into this with ‘My name is Dave and I’m a sex pest’ written all over your T-shirt.”

So yeah, maybe walking around daycare to drop off my three-year-old wearing a shirt with “It’s in you, not on you” on the front wasn’t the best plan. Especially when his key employee then asks him, “What’s on Dad’s T-shirt, Charlie?”

“It’s just a stupid slogan…” I said, squirming.

Just a silly slogan with too many sexual connotations for my taste. Suffice to say that it will now be a t-shirt at home. Although I still dig the denim jacket with Inbox on the chest pocket, it’s a keeper.

And not offensive by chance.

Maybe that’s what designer Gavin Mathieu was looking for? No, Microsoft describes (opens in a new tab) as a clothing line that “focuses on people, not the clothes they wear”. It’s a much more respectable sentiment than it sounds when framed as it is. But the problem with designer clothes with slogans like this is that they’re so steeped in irony that the message ends up coming full circle.

Remember when everyone was walking around with “OBEY” on their T-shirts? It was to show “biting sarcasm bordering on reverse psychology”, (opens in a new tab) urging people to “watch out for propagandists to bend the world to their agendas”.

But of course, the real irony is spending $50 on a t-shirt to blend in with the worldview of your current group of friends, while unironically poking fun at conformists.

Alright, enough of my designer clothes rant. I’m here to write about cores and threads, not clothing threads. The bottom line is that I don’t feel very normcore; I kinda feel like I’m camping in my own t-shirt, which is in no way Microsoft’s fault. But my real problem is that I feel the need to hide the slogan from people, in case someone files a complaint against me.


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