September, the first month of autumn, brings with it the suggestion of the season to follow. Although still three months away, the wonders of frostbitten cheeks, slips and falls on icy surfaces, snow shovels banging around in the pickup bed, clearing the snowdrifts from the dog yard so they don’t have to subject their tender girlie parts to the drifted snow — these images loom large. This year, heralding in the winter season started with a visual explosion of lights, fake trees in all colors of the rainbow, and gaudy decorations in red and white at the blue big-box store right after Labor Day. By right after Labor Day, I mean the next day, Tuesday.

Nothing shocks my sense of time passing like running into a store’s entire inventory of Christmas trimmings, gimcrackery, and glittery ornaments, large and small, in the first week of September. I mean literally running into — it was right inside the entrance shoppers get herded through so we have to go by the stuff the store wants us to go buy.

On the same schedule in Labor Day week is the arrival of the first holiday sales catalogs in the mailbox. A $50 pair of socks? How about a pair of high-top sneakers for $275? No slash on the shoe, but what they do have in common with Air Jordans is price. There’s a new pair of 6-inch leather boots, low-heeled and hand-finished to look “vintage,” an ubiquitous euphemism for “worn out,” only $300!

The reasoning behind purchasing an expensive new item that appears to need replacement right out of the box escapes me. Just as confounding are the skeletal models who show off this stuff. A taco truck parked at the site of the catalog photo shoot could save some lives while making a fortune off some cadaverous fashion models if they would but eat something.

The fashion trend for the last, say, way too long, is the slovenly look of an unmade bed from head to toe. For us men, there are shirts in a deliberate “untucked” style designed, I’m certain, by a crack team of fashion-forward 14-year-olds who seem determined to tuck the shirt in anyway, but only in the front above the fly. There isn’t even a belt buckle to explain the look. Additionally, men’s clothing is almost all “relaxed” fit, or “classic” fit, both of which seem to allow a man to don a full snowmobile suit under his new dress shirt and jeans, unless said man is the size of Larry the Cable Guy.

Today’s clothing seems designed for comfort rather than fit, a factor contributing mightily to the look. In addition, rips, tears and artificially worn areas placed strategically on the garment suggest the wearer could have been busy digging out from under a rock slide, baling hay, or perhaps lion-taming. Nothing suggests to your friends that you’ve been physically industrious like a set of torn and threadbare, baggy clothes with some worn, ancient shoes. Fortunately, I can get that look delivered to my door brand new and fashionably too large if I make sure to order relaxed fit and vintage finish.

The “I live in my parents’ basement” look seems to be a popular fashion trend and an ill-fitting, tattered wardrobe says exactly that. I wouldn’t expect that look to be particularly helpful for landing a date outside your circle of the one video-gaming friend who “gets” you. But, if I’m wrong about that, the ensemble should make a reliable contraceptive.

So there I was last summer, Labor Day week, unexpectedly surrounded by Christmas cheer and an avalanche of holiday sales catalogs hawking ill-fitting clothing, gifts, and geegaws for a day nearly four months down the road.

That just rattles my sense of order, switched around in the raucous melee over who gets my last dollar this year. Well just back off, merchant; I ain’t done with autumn yet.

Butch Lawson is an observer of life. He lives on Bailey Island.