Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What Ever Happened to Style?

We've all seen those hilarious pics of the Wal-Mart Martians wearing their bizzaro-world outfits. The thing is, their look is not so far removed from what we have come to loosely term "casual dress." It all started innocently enough, and with my generation, I am ashamed to say. Unwilling to be bound by the conservative dress standards of our parents, and eager to keep up with the youthful new "Mod" style in clothes, we strayed further and further away from convention. Jackets for men and dresses for women were out. Sensible shoes were replaced by footwear like flip-flops, brightly colored Crocs and sneakers that cost more than a car used to. Today, anything goes. People wear pajama bottoms, thrift-shop discards, pre-ripped jeans and funky hats. We have become a nation of slobs.

I am a big fan of the show "Mad Men". One reason is that it reminds me of the way people used to dress. In any place of business, even the kid in the mail room wore a tie. Men, from the CEO to the junior clerks wore suits and ties. Casual Fridays meant you were allowed to unbutton your jacket. Women wore dresses or blouses and skirts. They did up their hair and put on make-up. The workplace looked like a gathering of professionals, Christmas parties notwithstanding. Except for a few places that still maintain dress codes, office workers today look like homeless folk who wandered in to warm up. Even businesses that deal face-to-face with the public allow their workers to dress like bums. Exceptions are refreshing, like Macy's where the women dress in stylish black and the men in suits...I think it makes a difference.


Maybe the biggest decline in acceptable dress has been in the House of God. When I was a lad during the Grant Administration, parishioners at Our Lady of Lourdes showed up for church scrubbed and dressed. Even the less affluent always  wore their Sunday best. Ladies who were showing too much d├ęcollage were asked to pin lace hankies to their dresses in the interest of modesty. I see people in church wearing get-ups that would be considered daring at the beach. Bare midriffs, skin-tight jeans, plunging necklines, and those are the men! The pastor recently had to print a warning in the bulletin about inappropriate dress and deportment (there's a word you don't hear any more), but I'm sure his pleas will be ignored. 


Style was always synonymous with elegance, good taste and well made clothes. Public figures like movie stars wouldn't think of being seen anywhere looking like they had just come off a three day jag. Every guy I knew wanted to look like Cary Grant, suave, debonair, not a hair out of place. I see leading men in the papers today who look like beggars, unshaven, rumpled clothes, and dirty. Female movie stars looked stunning when they left the house, begowned, bejeweled and bedazzling! Who do we have leading the fashion parade today? Lindsay Lohan in an orange jump suit. I think Europeans put us to shame when it comes to casual dress. Of course many of them also have the figures to look good in whatever they wear.

I know I'm fighting a losing battle here, but can still hope against hope that one day those suits and ties will come out of the closet, and style will be in style again.


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4 comments:

The Whiner said...

One of the Moms drops her kid off in her pajamas every day - 15 mintutes early - and says she has to run because she has an appointment. Considering she's always in her leopard print fleece pajames I shudder to think who her appointments are with.

Jim Pantaleno said...

George Hamilton??

Joseph Del Broccolo said...

I think that the whole dress code thing is just the way things are today with personal relationships-lack of respect for everything. Schools, work place and church, even funeral parlors-it doesn't really matter anymore. Jeans and floppies, wait until it affects the military!

Jim Pantaleno said...

Yeah, can't wait for camouflage flip flops.