Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Getting a dressing down

Getting a dressing down, originally uploaded by retrogemkitty7.

Assuming you would wear this skirt, where would you wear it? The office? The beach? The symphony? A restaurant where dinner for two runs at least $150? Sadly, it seems many people these days would answer "all of the above". "Casual Friday" has become "Casual Everyday", or, for some folks, "Nearly Naked Everyday". Is it time to bring back dress codes? I say yes.

Old-fashioned? Bourgeois? Downright fascist? Perhaps I am, but I am also sick & tired of going to special events or high-end restaurants & seeing denim everywhere. I don't wear jeans often, it's true. The only t-shirts I wear as non-exercise attire have no writing on them & are so sleek that they could pass for leotards. I am also a theater person & a fashion addict. I know not everyone approaches clothes the way I do - as costume, something that's tremendous fun & a creative outlet. Many people have to deal with rigid dress codes in the workplace & just don't want to be bothered with such things on their personal time. I've heard all of this before & I do sympathize, but I don't understand thinking that the same clothes you'd don to cut the grass are fine for an evening on the town.

I am a regular poster on fashionism, a site that is obviously frequented by people who think & care about clothes more than the general population. Over the years, there have been numerous threads about the way people dress to go out these days, with many members saying they deplore seeing people in jeans & such at "special" events, others saying they think it's fine & do it themselves, & others wondering why anyone cares. Once, I even started a thread in which I stated that I'd like to get a group of people in tuxes & gowns to go out to a sporting event, & one member got so upset you'd think I'd insulted her personally, which wasn't my intention at all. My point was this: if it's okay to show up at the opera in denim, why not go to a baseball game in a ballgown & your best bling? To my mind, both outfits would look equally ridiculous, given their settings, yet one is now acceptable, one is not. I would not, & do not, comment if I see someone dressed far more casually than myself when we are out, yet many people do not do me the same courtesy.

I'm not suggesting we return to the days when "well-bred" women couldn't leave the house without a girdle, hose, gloves, full makeup, beauty-parlor hair, & a hat. Okay, I'm getting into hats lately, but I don't want them to be mandatory. I also don't think men should be required to wear a suit & tie at all times. It's well over 90 degrees & humid here today - there are times when certain kinds of clothing are just impractical! I just wish special occasions were a little more... special than they've become, at least from a sartorial standpoint. Dress up in your own, highly personal way, as my rocker-chic friend recently did at a wedding: LBD, black sequined beret, & killer jewelry.

It seems there is strong support for my view in the fashion industry. Okay, I exaggerate. There's one article that I know of & it's in the July issue of Vogue. According to Sally Singer, dressing down is dead & Balmain's $1,624 t-shirt was the final nail in the coffin. Later in the same issue, there's a photo shoot featuring Ewan MacGregor & Natalia Vodianova as a beautifully turned-out"Mad Men"-era couple. Will chic suddenly become "cool" for those of us who probably won't spend $1,624 on tees in an entire lifetime, much less in one shot? Will it once again be unseemly to show up at the office in flip-flops? At the very least, will those of us who enjoy dressing up (some of whom currently don't because they get too much grief if they do) feel a little less pressure not to do so? Time will tell. For the moment, thank you, Ms. Singer


  1. couldn't agree more! and anytime you wanna crash the Nats in a ballgown, let me know, I'm there ;) - Brianna

  2. I too bemoan the glut of overly casual clothes in daily life. If jeans at the ballet weren't bad enough, pajama bottoms have hit the grocery store near me. And slippers. Bedroom slippers. I live in a super casual city so it's even more pronounced. I still dress and I just hope I have some small influence!