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Friday, May 13. 2016
Style, appearance, dress, and physique clearly vary across subcultures and geography in the US and the Western World, and certainly in the rest of the world.
When people look good, they feel good. Chicken and egg. Codes of personal presentation are useful even if we do not like the codes other groups use. In my somewhat hoity-toity set, being athletic and preppily-proper at all times (except at the gym) is standard, regardless of age. There is a similar expectation, or a higher one, in the American Southland.
I recently began estate work for a new client. She said she was 78. I had to ask her to prove it, because I have seen lots of 45 year-olds who looked far worse than she did and I do not mean at WalMart. I should say, she looked great, elegant, sexy. She skis all winter, golfs and plays tennis all summer, lifts weights, does her own gardening in Vermont and in Connecticut, has two volunteer community projects, plays bridge twice a week, hikes - and has availed herself of a bit of face and neck work in New York. Not enough to notice until she told me her age. A proud lady, I think.
How important do you think it is to look good when in public? Is it about signaling, or class-consciousness, work expectations, or just plain dignity? Or is letting yourself go to pot at some point ok with you?
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Accidentally lost previous good comment.
I do think it is important to look shipshape. Often, I do not live up to my standards.
When I was a child, we would get dressed up to go and see the doctor. Now I work at a hospital where the patients think nothing of coming to see the docs wearing pajama pants and a t-shirt. It is all about respect or lack of it.
I think that it is a useful "tell" about someone. Gives one instant information, even before people open their mouths. Some people may find that objectionable, but I don't have a problem with it.
I can be very sloppy myself, but this is because I have no sense of style. I am happiest in my garden clothes, but have a rule about not wearing them out and about-especially not the faded pink Crocs.
I'm a t-shirt and jeans guy. It pisses my wife off, but that's how it is. I like sneakers.
I grew up wearing suits and ties to class. After 12 years, I had grown to dislike them immensely. After 17 years of working and wearing suits again, I entered a field where jeans and tshirts are nominally acceptable, at least on the tech side. I still wear business casual to work, though.
I have to admit, after 13 years, I miss wearing a suit.
So now I have come to believe there is a balance. You wear suits and dress well when you absolutely have to. But you don't need to always look good. I don't need everyone to judge me based on my looks all the time, every day.
In fact, there are times when I deliberately dress down to see what reaction I get from people. To me, if you can't see past the outward appearance, you're generally quite shallow.
I retired 17 years ago. I gave my suits and ties to Goodwill. I live in jeans (sometimes Chinos), T-shirts in the summer and sweatshirts in the winter. For "special" occasions I were a polo shirt. I honestly don't know if I would choose to dress like this if everyone dressed nice but in fact my style fits right in with the rest of the world and I do travel a lot. It is comfortable, I can go from a nice restaurant to a hiking trail or beach in comfort. My clothing style attracts little attention if you walked past me on the street you wouldn't notice me and that's just how I like it. I could not be happier to never wear suits again and dress for comfort rather than to impress.
I find it interesting how other countries have surpassed us. I went to Korea last year, and as an American I felt like an unkempt slob. The men mostly wear tailored suits and the women dress well in every circumstance (and that's an understatement).
It's not entirely our fault, you can buy nice clothing in Korea with all sorts of choices at a fraction of the price you would spend in the U.S. to buy junk from Macy's.
Why on earth would someone get dressed up to see a doctor? The first thing my doc's nurse tells me to do is disrobe to my undergarments and put on a gown. It has nothing to do with respect or lack thereof. If you want to show respect, be clean. But, being clean is not essential when the patient is seeing the doc immediately after working at a job that produces a lot of good, honest sweat.
I haven't tested the theory, but I suspect walking around in public naked would attract some unwanted attention so I generally keep some clothes on - whatever's cheapest is my benchmark. Jeans and T-shirts mostly. Doing construction work, I can get away with that. I realize that presenting yourself well implies some consideration for what others think of you (it's called 'manners', not snobbery, vanity or self-consciousness to have some minimum consideration for how others see you and there's a name for ill-mannered people who aggressively go out of their way to offend people just to prove 'I don't care what you thnk of me' but I won't use that word here. I will say that not caring what anybody thinks of you is not necessarily something to be proud of) but I'm of limited means and I have other things I'd rather spend my money on than clothing.
As far as keeping myself in shape - round is a shape isn't it? I enjoy good food, I get some exercise in my work but I've definitely got a few extra pounds here and there. I'm old-fashioned enough to believe age connotes wisdom and some wrinkles and gray hairs, a few saggy, baggy signs of wear and tear on the body suggests to me someone who's had the time to learn some things I don't know, suggests they're somebody worth paying attention to. Why would you want to disguise the fact that you have experienced some life by hiding your age?
I think, when you get right down to it, any type of clothing (and no, I'm not a nudist) is but a uniform, of sorts. It can be a signal, or not, depending on ones personality, or if one is having to make a living, as well illustrated in the above comments. A lot depends too on the type of conditioning one was exposed to at an impressionable age. My 'gig line' will always be straight. If it is out of kilter, I'm out of kilter. It is an interesting subject, with six billion different opinions I expect.
Hadn't seen your comment as we posted at the same moment... but, I think that you make a good point re...
"Why would you want to disguise the fact that you have experienced some life by hiding your age?"
I agree, but todays world is more about sex than wisdom, to our misfortune.
Then again, perhaps Helen Mirren combines the best of both, well, other than being a flaming moonbat leftist that is.
The United States has simply become less formal, period, just about everywhere. Some parts of it changed rapidly. For example, hats. Look at any picture of a city scene from before 1950. Virtually every male has a hat on. By 1960, they're rare, and by 1970, gone. I've only worn a hat when in uniform. Caps covering the ears in winter don't count.
Today, men who wear ball caps and cowboy hats don't bother taking them off when in eating establishments, which used to be common courtesy.
Getting sales people in most to wear collared shirts is difficult for management. As a kid, I remember most salesmen in suit and tie. You see that today in most auto dealers, jewelry stores, and high end retail. But not anywhere else.
Polished shoes? Athletic shoes don't take a shine...
Formality, unless enforced by an establishment's enforced dress code, or stated on the invitation, is by the wayside. Is this good or bad? That's a definite maybe for me. But people still make judgements of you based on what your're wearing. The better dressed you are, the more attention you get when you walk into a store, or bank, or a party.
At least most people wear clean clothes.
Yes, usually clean. Though I've been in the middle of more than one check-out line where that was not the case.
I will though, pick out one example where individualism trumps, and then denigrates, common sense. Footwear on airlines. How exactly, after the crash, will you tip toe through the burning jet fuel wearing your flip-flops and polyester clothing. I'm a leather and cotton person myself, though true, the cotton will burn as well after a bit, but perhaps it will give me just enough time to reach safety without horrible burns.
I guess, having said that, it isn't always signaling that determines uniform choice.
Your "Richie Rich" is showing more and more. You are basking in your 1%ness and it has reached my limit of tolerance. When it all comes tumbling down, your ilk will be hunted down. Used to enjoy you blog, but it is catering more and more to an elitist cadre.