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 décollage 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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