D’Angelo Gets Dressed

Shardene: No woman takes that long
D’Angelo: Yeah, but I look good, right?

Early on in “The Wire,” we get our first look inside of D’Angelo’s apartment as he gets ready for another day of work. This is the third time in the past two episodes where we see character getting ready for the day, and D’Angelo seems to have the most traditional domestic arrangement of the three. He has a spacious living room, fully-stocked and functioning kitchen, and two closets packed full of clothes, many of them still with the tags attached.

As he gets dressed, there is a television playing some old black-and-white cops and robbers movie while hip hop plays on the stereo. It is an interesting synthesis of the old-school hollywood car chase cliche with the modern soundtrack for D’Angelo’s urban crime world.  D’Angelo isn’t watching the movie, though. He is too busy staring into his closet.

He stands with his towel around his waist and engages in what must be agonizing deliberations over what to wear. It is a funny scene that reveals D’Angelo’s excess. He has more money than he knows what to do with, and puts all of that money into clothes. At the same time, his clothing obsession shows a level of insecurity and obsession with image. He is not going anywhere special on this day. In fact, he will spend it, as always, with people like Wallace, who, as we saw in the episode’s opening, wakes up in the clothes he will wear.

And yet D’Angelo looks at his two closets with the intense scrutiny of Omar stalking a corner he wants to take down. D’Angelo nixes one outfit and starts again from scratch, cutting tags off of unworn clothes, matching shirts to pants, checking how everything looks in the mirror, and rifling through boxes of Timberlands. Shardene’s comment suggests that this trait is feminine in nature, but there is something even deeper going on. It is psychological. It shows that D’Angelo is obsessed with conveying a particular image to the outer world, with looking good in the eyes of others. That level of obsession with the external also suggests his deeper desire to cover up the disquiet churning just beneath the surface.

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