"Beyond modesty, clueless about decorum" (July 31, 2007), an article by J.D. Mullane, queries: "Is it me or do fewer adults know how to dress appropriately for an occasion? . . . How did we get to where we dress the same whether it's church or a trip to the garden center for a sack of manure?" I think he sums up my thoughts when he states:
That is what dressing appropriately is about — respecting the occasion, the institutions and the people surrounding us.(Diagram above from the Freshmen Academy)
As I see shabbily dressed school kids, churchgoers, restaurant patrons and educated professionals who must, on some level, know better, it's as if inappropriate dress is a calculated act. Something's going on.
Hostility? In "RANDOM THOUGHTS: I think I know when enough IS enough (July 31, 2007)", Dorothy Brush explains: "The enough I'm referring to is the steady break-down of common civility, of courtesy, of respect. I believe the first faint alarm bell I heard was when I learned some churches were relaxing their standards for dress when attending church." When reading this article, that line in the first paragraph really got my attention. She goes on to talk about a specific case of remaining seated in a court of law (when it's time for all to rise) out of stated disrespect for the proceedings, and how this further illustrates the point that going against unwritten codes of conduct and dress are also a form of disrespect, even hostility. From schools to the workplace, people are dressing to "assert their individuality" - and at the cost of showing disrespect to your fellow workers, your business, or your elders.
What about dressing appropriately to appear in court or on a jury? "Dressing appropriately applies to those serving on juries too." (July 30, 2007) "Why do people wear inappropriate clothing to court? "It may be because they don't want someone telling them what to wear," Keaveny said." Hmm. Does that sound rebellious? See also this article from July 30, 2007, regarding appropriate court room attire.
Wait, you might think. Maybe there is a good reason to rebel against old-fogey standards of what is and isn't appropriate office/classroom/worship hall attire: what some might call "useless tradition". A good rant against the modern idea of appropriate dress comes from a college student from Drexel University. Just read Michael Schirano's response "Shorts: Now is the time" (7/27/07) in this debate:
It's always easy to blame things on old white people, and while many a problems are due to their stubborn, shortsighted, narrow-minded, 1920s attitudes, this one is our fault. They might be the 2 percent of the population that owns 90 percent of the wealth, but we are the people who do the actual work.(above photo from WSJ article: "The Office Coverup")
We have to stand up for our rights and say, "No! I want to wear shorts when I feel like it, because wearing pants when it's 99 degrees outside makes me feel like an idiot!" And we are idiots for not trying to fight the status quo of a pants-only society.
Well, if that doesn't sound like a respectful young gentleman, then... you probably agree with me. Amid all the "I wanna wear shorts to work!" whining, he does make this interesting suggestion: "There are plenty of shorts that aren't camouflage, or have Billabong written on them, or have 34 holes "fashionably" pre-torn for your use. There are shorts made of khaki, that don't have 17 pockets, and rest slightly above or on the knee. . . . This is what I want. The right to dress respectfully, and at the same time sensibly."
I think, amid all the whining in all places, there must be a solution to this appropriate attire question. And it has to do with respect.
(Final photo from Naseberry Designs)
(In a personal note, I must admit that I still do not understand the use of the neck tie by men, but I do like the respectful looking young people in this photo.)