I have a confession to make from the outset- I don’t dress up unless I am obliged to. Most of the time I am to be found wearing a raggedy looking cardigan, a tethered newsboy cap and a non pressed pair of woolen pants. Then of course there’ s my shoes- scuffed up handmade English leather something or rather I bought at an opshop- probably the refuse of some Lord or banker (I unfortunately presume) – but that’s just me. That said, I am (as a consequence of after having read a curious piece by styleite) of the opinion that our universe is plundering into some sort of moral abyss. What abyss you wonder? The propensity to dress down, or rather the incidence of not bothering to dress up at all.
A cursory regard of the Wall St Journal’s article: Jacket (not) Required (which elicited the ire of styleite) has the journal bemoaning what it presumes to be the downgrading of how us gentlemen (yes I do use that word with 14 grains of salt) choose to dress:
Remember those days as a strapping young lad when your parents would announce with Ozzie and Harriet-like pride that they were taking you out “somewhere special” to celebrate a birthday, a straight-A report card or a home-run hit? Those rare times when you didn’t mind getting gussied up, spit-polishing your saddle shoes and donning that Kennedy-esque blue blazer with the brass buttons? Even though you probably ordered off the kids’ menu, they were elegant moments to cherish.
Well, cling to those memories tightly. Over the past several years, the dress codes abided and enforced at those ceremonies of formality and occasion, at everywhere from fine-dining restaurants to evening soirées, have become mostly unspoken, unwritten or loosened like so many Hermès ties. And just as these rules—that for so many years were out of favor—disappear, a new generation of formality-loving dandies is choosing (not being told) to dress up.
Oh dear- do I remember those days? Of course- I am still living them- but just not in the way that the Journal’s author Steve Garbarino would expect me to. Rather than wearing spiffy shined shoes and fine looking designer straignt jackets I have chosen to opt for my own unique sensibilities which to the untrained eye could appear as if I too have given up on affecting a dandy countenance- even if it may be true most of men have given up on this or perhaps just reinterpreted their aspirations in life and as a consequence their dress sense.
For most formal establishments, recent apparel relaxations are a matter of economics, priorities and pragmatism. In these tight-pocketed times, restaurants don’t have the luxury of imposing rules. And, after the initial shock, it is reasoned that most fine-dining regulars who enjoyed “the rules” will come to accept the inevitable. The world isn’t their Oysters Rockefeller anymore. Old money’s out, and the Converse-sneaker-clad social networkers are in.
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