Last Week We Savaged “Fashion.” Let’s Move on to “Dressing Up.”


Dressing Up to Send Message

Last week we had some fun at the expense of the fashion industry. Most of us seemed to agree -the fashion industry may not represent civilization’s best.

So, let’s take another step. Since we have decided to forego fashion’s extremes, when might we want to dress with a bit more than usual care? There are some important reasons for doing so, and fashion has nothing to do with it.

Dress Code? We Don’t Need No Stinking Dress Code! Or Do We?

I am fortunate enough to live in a great area in which casual is the universal uniform of the day. Not business casual or smart casual. Here we most often mean casual, as in jeans or something similar. That makes for a laid back, comfortable existence. A relaxed ambiance is pretty much standard around here.

This seems to be the case just about everywhere these days. Sometimes too much so. Occasionally I see someone out and about and I find myself thinking, “Really? That’s what you decided to wear – in public?” I know my mother would be delighted to learn that I could harbor such thoughts. I might turn out to be civilized yet.

Having established credibility as a non-fashionista, allow me a note of caution. One can overcorrect in avoiding fashion. There are three activities in particular where we do well to go to a little trouble in dressing up a bit. I will be curious to learn if you agree or have other such examples to offer.

Two Opportunities to Dress Better – For Good Cause

One, going to church on Sunday, or a similar gathering. This might be my Southern upbringing coming to bear, but it is more than that. I served as a consultant for several years, working mostly with churches. Ironic for probably the least religious man you will ever know, but we can talk about that later.

The point is not about me, but about those who serve. I came to appreciate how hard people work to provide inspiring, fun, and professional services. This is much harder work than most people ever contemplate. So, partly as a way of saying “thank you for making all this happen,” I dress for such occasions. It is a small way for me to go to a little effort in thanks for all the trouble others have gone to on our behalf.

A second reason I dress a bit on these occasions is that I see a lot of people I have not seen for a week or more. Dressing up a little is a way of saying I looked forward to seeing them, and so I dressed for the occasion. I know – neither reason may be obvious to the intended recipient, but it feels better for having done it.

Two, when I go to a concert or similar event, I usually dress with coat and tie. There are exceptions of course, depending on the concert and venue. But for a symphony or similar event, I always dress up. When I moved to my current home town, I was curious to learn what audience attire I would see in this decidedly informal community. I was pleased to see that almost everyone in attendance had come to the same decision I had about attire. This has been the case for every concert I have attended here.

I expect people do so for the same reasons as do I. A symphonic concert represents years of tradition and excellence. The artists on stage have dedicated themselves to bringing this wonderful art form to us. They practice hour upon hour to get it right. And, by the way, they dress up for the event.

Is it too much for us to do likewise? It is not. Can we recognize the history and the dedication before us by stepping up our sartorial game a step or two? I think so. It is a small gesture to offer. And hey, we look better. I don’t think an orchestra should look out and see what looks like a fire evacuation of Walmart shoppers. Let’s celebrate being together by looking nice.

Make Your Own Call – And Think of Others

Allow me to close by saying all this is offered as sharing a perception, not as some sort of directive. If you don’t feel the call to dress a bit nicer for such events, you are the master of your own fate. You will receive no condemnation from me.

But consider that in such matters, as in so much else in life, it’s not always about you. Think of this not as you going to some trouble; think of it as an opportunity to say thank you.

Now, go look in your closet and see what you have ready for your next opportunity to excel sartorially.


Oh, and getting back to our earlier discussion of  Fashion – in case you missed it, here are some pictures from this year’s Paris Fashion Week, held just a few days ago. I rest my case.

       Bill Clontz

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5 replies to Last Week We Savaged “Fashion.” Let’s Move on to “Dressing Up.”

  1. My experience in Asheville is no matter where I go someone shows up in blue jeans. I’ve been to the Symphony a few times over the years and that person(s) in jeans is consistently present. In my family I’m usually overdressed for Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. I can’t bring myself to be casual for those events.

    • I see “that guy” at the symphony, too, but fortunately he is fairly rare in that crowd. I am like you – some events just feel right dressed a bit more. If I am over dressed, so be it.

    • Good for you dressing up for the holidays. Otherwise, they are just ordinary days. Also, something to look forward to dressing up for those days and feeling special and hopefully happy.

  2. What about bank teller dress attire? It used to be bank tellers dressed up. Maybe just a misperception then that they were taking their job serously. Some people prefer casual clothes for all occasions and won’t deviate. Hopefully the pendulum swings for a happy medium. Nice jeans, shirt, jacket, hat, and boots/shoes for men is a nice statement though maybe not for the symphony, but since I don’t attend symphonies I can’t render my opinion on
    that one. I’m always impressed when someone takes the extra effort.

    • I was just reading this week that a number of business are looking to move beyond casual Friday’s but keep some standards of appearance. Not an easy balance perhaps.

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