attire, beauty, casual, Casual Friday, church, Clothing, contemporary, culture, Denim, deracinated, dress, dress code, dress up, dressy, fashion, fine dining, formal, History, jeans, old-fashioned, postmodern, racinated, second hand, special occassions, thrift, traditional, Trousers
I had originally intended this post about fashion to go along with the theme of my series “Traditional, Modern, and Postmodern,” a critique of Western art, society, and sensibilities, however while contemplating the different styles of fashion, I could not decide upon what kind of fashion could fit the category “Modern”. I thought about labeling the Traditional as the Victorian era and prior, Modern as beginning with the 1920’s during the age of the Flappers, and Postmodern as beginning in the 1960’s, but that seemed all wrong considering the fact that the Victorian manner of dress was not very similar to other periods of time that could also be labeled as “Traditional” , providing additional explanations involving minor epochs of Sattwic, Rajasic, and Tamasic elements in different time periods and their influences on fashion would be very tedious and time consuming, and fashion even after the 20’s could certainly still be considered “racinated”, at least until the postmodern Eclipse of the 60’s. As I did not wish to delve too much into the history of fashion, today’s post will focus more as a critique of deracinated fashion styles.
Dressing nicely shows respect for oneself and others. Unfortunately, most people have lost a sense of knowing what to wear, not only in everyday life but even to important or special occasions that actually do require one to “dress up.” In the past, people used to put on their “Sunday best” every week, but now it’s not uncommon to see people in Converses and shorts, including those who are speaking in front of the church audience. I suppose with dwindling church member numbers due to the increasingly secular nature of society, churches are happy if the laity show up in the first place. The same can be said for the fine dining industry that has had to do away with dress codes in order to appeal to the sloppy masses who can afford exorbitantly priced meals but not a tailored suit or a dapper dress.
Contemporary culture says, “It doesn’t matter what you wear as long as you are comfortable. If you want to wear denim trousers that look like they got in a fight with a meat grater, stained sweat pants, or footsie pajamas, go ahead. If you prefer wearing beautiful dresses over said denim trousers, stained sweat pants, and footsie pajamas, especially if you are not going anywhere ‘important’, well you’re a judgmental snob.”
However, my personal experience in dealing with the public while wearing my getup of a lovely dress with matching hat and gloves shows an entirely different, human side of modern thought, the one that yearns for a glimpse of beauty in this ugly era. I cannot tell you how many times I have had complete strangers come up and tell me “I love your style,” “I wish I had the confidence to dress the way you do,” and “I miss the old days when everyone used to dress nicely; I was born in the wrong era.” On first glance, one would not be able to tell that these people share my sensibilities in regard to fashion, but hidden beneath the typical Casual Friday attire is a dissatisfaction with contemporary fashion. As one blogger, JC Coccoli, says:
“Just because society says you have to be somewhere fancy to wear those bold threads doesn’t mean you actually have to listen. You will turn heads in your dressed-down version of your dress up. And, you will be entering what I like to call “compliment city.” That’s where people, against what they believe in, compliment you left and right because you are being different. People love sequence! They really do. Remember the 1920s? (Well, you probably weren’t alive, but someone you knew was. And they dressed snazzy all the time.) But, now? Now, we dress down because we are hip tomboys that are too much on the go. Let’s put that to rest for a bit and when you do, be prepared to keep your cool because people will be all, “Whoa, you’re dressed up.” And then you can be all, “No, I look nice.” And they’ll be all, “Oh, man. I want to look nice.” BOOM. You just Jedi mind tricked the person rocking converse and an over-sized sweatshirt into reconsidering their lifestyle. Kudos.” [Edited]
I will never understand how the quintessential casual choice of denim trousers are considered “comfortable” or why they are a staple in most people’s closests. The fabric is coarse, and as for women’s denim trousers, they cling to the skin around the hip and thigh areas. Denim trousers also have a tendency to make their wearer’s blend in with the rest of the crowd, who are also wearing denim trousers. After all, they all tend to look the same with only slight variations in colour, shade, and cut. For all the fuss over the über-conformism of the 1950’s, our modern fashion screams conformist commitment to dowdiness. I am slowly phasing them out of my own closet for the reasons that they are unflattering, uninspiring, and uncomfortable, and I plan to keep only a couple of my high-waisted pairs for outdoor work wear, which is what they were originally designed for, or to pay homage to the Old West cowboy look.
Even lack of available funds should not be an excuse for not dressing nicely. For ladies, a second-hand dress ($5), hat ($5-$15, if you know where to shop), and gloves ($6-7) looks much more distinguished and polished than those $40 denim trousers and that $15 T-shirt. Even a brand-new dress can cost around $40, and that’s the same cost for a whole outfit as one pair of denim trousers that you still have to find a shirt to wear with. I am not as familiar with the pricing of menswear, but I believe it says a lot about how far we have degenerated as a culture when the homeless man of the 1930’s is better dressed than the middle and upper class man of today.