Let’s improve our collective quality of life in 2017 by dressing better.
According to a column by Kerry Folan, we are placing personal comfort above showing respect for others. Yes, we’re wearing our jammies to the store.
This is the opposite of how Americans used to dress. In olden days, people endured uncomfortable clothing in order to show respect for their fellow man. Men wore suits and women wore dresses. People got dressed up to travel, to go to church, to go downtown.
The ’60s generation destroyed this dress code. We’ve gotten increasingly lax about our appearance ever since. At international airports, it’s easy to spot the Americans. They’re wearing sweatpants. Travelers from European countries still make the effort. My French students took it to the extreme: They looked like they spent three hours in makeup and two in wardrobe before coming to class.
I’m not saying we should go back to starched collars and corsets, but we need to draw the line somewhere. For example, there’s a proper way to wear yoga pants. Oversized sweaters help. Speaking of that region, there’s no need to display our boxers. Circle Lanes has a prominent sign on the front door. It reads: “Pull Your Pants Up or Don’t Come In!!! Try to have some respect for others. No one wants to see your underwear.” An asterisk offers a caveat: “Does not apply to children under 3 years of age.”
Young children should be exempt, but school-age kids should be held accountable. Nothing was comfortable about the Catholic school uniform. The ties were tight and I felt sorry for the females freezing in their plaid skirts. But the uniforms gave us a group identity and made you think twice about trying something while you were still in uniform.
Of course, dressing up can go too far. I belonged to a church where the men dressed in suits and the women wore dresses or skirts. The reasoning was that if we would dress up to see the president, why wouldn’t we dress up to see God? This thinking had two flaws: God doesn’t care what we wear, and the church couldn’t attract new members. “Outsiders” were intimidated by the dress code. So today these same church-goers wear jeans and shorts. Why should we be uncomfortable in church?
Or at work? Casual Fridays have given way to “business casual” for every occasion. Women take heat for dressing too provocatively in the workplace. I’m not one to notice. I have a policy of not paying notice to people who are trying to attract attention with their manner of dress, piercings, or weird hair color. I’m just hoping to get through the day without seeing boxers, jammies or too much yoga.
People have become so lax about what they wear, there’s a sign at the Forest Park pool declaring that all patrons must wear a swim suit. Talk about stating the obvious. But there must be people who either don’t own a suit or are too lazy to change into one.
But there are worse atrocities. I’ve spoken with female staff members who are traumatized by men in speedos. I don’t think a family aquatic center is the same as the beach at St. Tropez.
Finally, a full confession. I wore shorts to a wake last summer. I didn’t think it would matter, but a member of the bereaved family called me out on it. Looking back, I feel mortified. I had put my personal comfort above showing respect.
At least I remembered to take off my baseball cap.
John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.