We truly have become a nation of slobs.
I thought about that this morning after reading a little opinion piece in my local paper about the loss of manners. Written by an older woman of a certain generation, she lamented about the way some people dress today when they go to church or out to eat. I then noticed it first-hand when I attended mass this morning. Many of my fellow parishioners look like they should have been going to the beach. Of course, this has been nothing new for many years now, but today I decided to notice how many people could make my inner fashion cop cringe. My mother remembers a time when every woman would wear gloves and a dress to Sunday mass. Needless to say, we both feel that nobody should have to go to that extreme today, but how about kicking it up a notch just a bit?
I saw a few teenage girls wearing jeans accompanied by skimpy fitting tank tops that exposed their bra straps. I actually could give people a pass on wearing denim if it's not ripped or hanging precariously off your hips and rear end, but c'mon on the tanks! My mother never would have let my sisters or me leave the door looking that way to go to church. I also always see lots of flip-flops, crocs (ugh!) and shorts. I've seen children skate down the aisle in those sneakers with retractable wheels that convert into roller skates.
When I was younger I used to enjoy getting a bit dressed up to go to church or if my dad took us out to eat at our favorite restaurant, which was called the Kernwood. The Kernwood was a pretty nice place, certainly not an Olive Garden (no offense to anyone who likes to eat at Olive Garden), and so tees and shorts wouldn't have flown there. In fact I think they had a dress code sign in the lobby that stated men had to wear a jacket, and they might have kept spares up front for the diner who "forgot" his. Remember when this was a normal requirement? No one batted an eye. Today some jerk would probably complain and leave in a huff and threaten to sue for discrimination.
I didn't have to wear a skirt when going to certain places with my parents - but I was not allowed to wear jeans to church, and had to wear something better than a t-shirt for a top.
I hate to sound so horty torty, and I realize it's just become a socially accepted way of life now, but it's disappointing sometimes how casual dress we've all become. There should be places where dressing professionally still remains a requirement. As a matter of fact, HR at my company has to send out a reminder about the dress code out to the company at the start of each summer season, lest some people think we've installed a swimming pool inside one of the conference rooms. Shorts and skirts that end above the knees are not allowed, as is any top that exposes cleavage. Hooded sweatshirts are also banned year-round. Quite often we have clients, partners and board members visiting our office, so I totally thinks it makes sense to look professional.
It's no surprise that one of the reasons why people love Mad Men so much is because of the way people used to dress back in the sixties. Men in suits and ties, and ladies in dresses. Even when Don Draper is at home on the weekends (pre-divorce, anyway) he manages to look good in a polo shirt and shorts. Well, I guess Jon Hamm would look good in just about anything or nothing at all, so maybe he's an unfair example. I love seeing a man in a suit and tie, but a (nice) casual sportscoat over an open shirt works wonders, too. Ladies love it when guys dress up - if you don't believe me, check out the comments on the blog Coolness is Timeless sometime!
I have nothing against shorts, tees, and tank tops, by the way. I just don't think they belong in a place of worship or a fancy restaurant. I wish more folks would put a little bit more into their appearances when it comes to certain events and places. At least when I attended a friend's wedding last weekend, every guest was dressed nicely. I certainly hope the casual dress trend never infiltrates a wedding.
The one good thing about so many people dressing so casually in certain places is it helps the people who do make an effort to look nice (me!) stand out. As Coco Chanel famously said, "Dress shabbily, they notice the dress. Dress impeccably, they notice the woman." I'll extend that saying to include men and teens as well.