I spent the night at a hotel a few weeks ago with my daughter. We went down for dinner in the hotel as not much else was close by and quite frankly we were too beat to find an alternative. We “dressed up” as best we could with our cottage wardrobe and much of the dining room was donning the same garb. Easy, relaxed, slightly wrinkled and comfortable. Though I had packed some nicer clothes just in case, the closest I got was adding a lovely floral scarf to my hoodied ensemble. Then this gentleman walked through and wasn’t he dressed smartly: Crisp dress pants, shiny shoes, and a lovely patterned dress shirt. It got me to thinking: isn’t everybody crazy for a sharp dressed man or woman ?
I tend to wax quite nostalgic for the days of old where ladies dressed like ladies and gentleman appreciated the turn of a comely ankle versus being assaulted by cleavage in various stages of gravity. It didn’t need to be all out there to catch attention. Classy was the mainstay of any wardrobe and a well dressed woman would not have been caught dead during a public dinner wearing her sweats or a t-shirt proclaiming her love of Cancun. A gentleman would have been well pressed and would not have dreamed of leaving for an evening out without first making sure his shoes were shiny enough to reflect his class to the room. Try shining up your trusty Crocs: trust me, it doesn’t give the same message.
To say that I miss those days would be remiss as I’ve never had the pleasure of being a part of those days. Those days were replaced by generations of rebels renouncing what they saw as the classicist elite trying to force them to conform and be part of the bourgeois. A tuxedo was a symbol of the wealthy that were plundering the planet and lauding it over the less fortunate. Women dressing in style were seen as being objectified and forced to submit to their husbands’ wishes. I don’t see it that way. Presentation might be about those things for some, but as someone whose never been in the elite circle I see it as something else. I see it as pride. Not that whole Mr. Darcy debate over the sin of pride but pride in taking the time with my appearance. I’m not high maintenance by a long shot but I so enjoy the chance to dress up in my finery and pretend to be a grown up.
When did taking care of one’s appearance become so wrong ? How did we go between such extremes ? I cannot imagine the preparation that must have gone in to some of the fashions of days gone by. Hours spent primping and curling and being lashed in to corsets that would make you swoon. I’m sure there are people now that put in the same amount of effort despite our aesthetic technological advances. Gone are the days of spreading lead on our faces to achieve the pearly whiteness so desired by those who wanted to prove they didn’t have to work outdoors. We went the other way to the tan of today that shows how much time we are able to spend outdoors. This too is slowly going out of vogue. Notice how both of those trends can kill you ? Taking care of our appearance doesn’t need to be about extremes or trends. Relying on class will last the ages.
What’s my point ? Well I guess I miss the days, such as they are for me, where people treated dinner out like the occasion it should be. Instead it’s an opportunity to gulp down tasteless, over processed food that drips on to our shirts as we stuff our Crocs under formica tables where our failed paper napkin has taken refuge. I miss the days of pearls and heels and men pulling out chairs with pride for their lovely wives to be seated at a table with china and silver and food that makes you swoon. I miss the days where people knew how to dress for the office. The days before casual Friday became every day. I know certain jobs require a more casual attire, as my last job did, but I will admit that I’m looking forward to using my business attire. I’m looking forward to sprucing up my suits and separates to portray a professional, competent image. My education and experience will be reflected in the pride and time I take to get ready for the day. With a shine on my shoes, my cleavage defying gravity in a modest way and a confidence to my step, I’ll embrace the corporate world. To riff on ZZ Top: Isn’t everybody crazy about a sharp dressed communicator ?