Why is appropriate attire so foreign?

“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”  ~ Leslie Poles Hartley quotes (English Writer, 1895-1972)

If you’ve been a reader of my blog for some time now, you probably realize I love quotes.

This oddity stems from my fondness for the written word and when I find a quote that ‘speaks’ to me, I squirrel it away in my trusty quotes notebook like a treasured nut for winter’s sustenance.

Then at the appropriate time, that quote lends itself well to thoughts I may be pondering.

I’ve stewed over one idea for the past few weeks.  This particular notion presented itself when hubby I ventured into the city and it has retained a spot on my “Things to Blog About” list, but I just couldn’t find a handle to hang it on until I discovered the above mentioned quote today.

I’m reminded more and more that the past really IS like a foreign country.  All I must do to witness this is visit a public place – a school, a church, a store – or drive down the streets of the nearest city.

When I was younger, the majority of people dressed up in their nicest clothes and made themselves look presentable to go out into public.  They wore their “Sunday best” to church, weddings, funerals, shopping, even the doctor’s office, and especially if they were visiting the city.

I vividly recall one day when I was a college student, a friend and I planned a shopping day downtown in our nearest large metropolis.   As I was leaving my parents’ home, my father, who traveled there often for meetings related to his work, asked me with a hint of disdain in his voice, “Is THAT what you’re wearing?”

I thought I looked presentable in my bell-bottom slacks with a cute sleeveless summery shirt and my wedged platform sandals.  Dad thought differently.

This was a man who dressed himself in a suit, shirt, tie and hat for work every single day even in summer’s heat.  My attire, he informed me, was not suitable for the city.   And he was correct.

I was stubborn and refused to change, but after my friend and I stepped off the bus onto the hustle and bustle of the city streets, I realized for myself how grossly under-dressed I was.  Everyone was outfitted in very nice clothes and I felt self-conscious about the way I looked.

By today’s standards though, I would probably have looked dressed up. Recently, hubby and I drove to our metro area on a week day, a work day.   I didn’t see many men walking along downtown dressed in suits, let alone ties.  Women weren’t “dressed for success” either.

Almost everyone was casually attired and some were dressed inexcusably inappropriately with body parts and/or under garments exposed.

I couldn’t help thinking that my dad would have been appalled to see so many slobs in this downtown city, where he would not have been caught dead without his hat.

While hubby and I discussed this ‘trend,’ he recalled traveling on a field trip to Washington, DC when he was in elementary school.   His mother made him wear a suit and tie because that was just good form back then.

He was, after all, visiting our nation’s capital and should be dressed respectfully.  He still remembers a couple of classmates, clothed in regular pants and shirts with sweaters, calling him “Senator” because of the way he was attired.

Both he and I grew up during a time when people wore their best clothes when going out in public, not like they just rolled out of bed and were wearing clothes in which they slept.   We also grew up in the thick of tumultuous change – the 60’s – and were in college and a young married couple in the 70’s.  So we embraced the new freedom of style, but we still managed to understand dressing appropriately and to teach that concept to our children.   Now, anything goes.

Before you call me an old fuddy-duddy, let me firmly state I don’t believe we should live in the past.  There were definitely customs and ideas of the past that we gratefully put behind us, but I must ask why people prefer to dress like slobs today.

I don’t know if it’s just that society in general has become so casual about everything or whether people have just become more lazy and slovenly.   Do they really not know any better? Or is it that people just don’t have respect for anything any more, not even themselves?

I wonder this when I attend a lovely formal church wedding (not in an outdoor setting) and notice not only men without suits or ties, but men clad in shorts.   I wonder this when I witness middle-aged women attired in Daisy Duke shorts and revealing tops.   I wonder this when I catch a glimpse of a person in t-shirt and jeans enter a funeral home to pay ‘respect’ to one who has passed away.

And I shake my head in amazement why people want to be seen in public like that.

I realize I’ve just delivered a bit of a rant, but on this 4th page, Chapter 6, in my book called Opportunity, I’m seriously wondering am I just a foreigner in this different age?  Tell me what you think.

Copyright ©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

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7 responses

  1. YES! I agree completely! Back in college, I refused to go to class in pajama pants, and I always dress up for church… it drives me crazy to see people wearing jeans and sweatshirts at church. It just strikes me as disrespectful.

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  2. You just said the conversation I had a few days ago with my husband! Well not exactly but about people dressing like slobs! I have to say, there are a few late nights when we go to Walmart in our sweats but even then I try to coordinate my outfit so it doesn’t look sloppy! People just don’t care anymore and that is what our society is about these days, not caring what anyone else thinks and stating that fact loud and clear!

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    • I’m all about being comfy too, but what I’m seeing is beyond comfortable, it’s just downright slovenly. 😦 I’m glad someone else besides me understands what I mean, so thanks for commenting, Sharon.

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  3. I try to dress up my jeans for church and wear nice clothing to work that’s “business casual.” But I’m allergic to dresses and panty hose. Though I do see your point. I see alot of sloppy people out there. Maybe it’s because they feel worthless on the inside and dress worthless on the outside?

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    • I’m don’t care for pantyhose either nor do I wear dresses all that often anymore. But there is a huge difference between dressing presentable in jeans and looking like a slob. I agree with your observation that maybe people feel so worthless on the inside and that emanates on the outside. And THAT makes me sad. It also tells me we need to do more to reach people and let them know God doesn’t think they are worthless.

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