Monday, November 21, 2011
Have We Become "Too Casual" In Modern Society?
On Saturday, I met with my sister and the kids (ages 17 and 15) and we spent the afternoon visiting the shops in Old Town before enjoying a fantastic meal at a quaint Italian restaurant. It was so fun hanging out with family while browsing the racks in a few consignment boutiques, including an overpriced vintage store that seemed to think 80s and 90s was 'vintage.' I did, however, find a beautiful 50s lucite and silvertone metal 'basketweave' bag on display in a window but it was scratched and filthy (yet they wanted $145.00 for it).
Before heading out to meet my sister, I shook off my lazy morning repose, put my makeup on, and dressed. I wore a 50s plaid wool pencil skirt, stockings, saddle shoes, a 50s black wool collared cardigan, pearls, and a lightweight, 50s era cashmere and alpaca blend, taupe-colored coat. Basically, I was wearing my usual Fall attire. Nothing 'fancy,' it was just another day like any other.
As the gang and I walked around town, I noticed quite a few people staring at me like I was a crazy woman. I get the odd look now and again (especially here in the DC area) but I am used to it. But, the number of stares seemed to be peculiarly high. Most of the 'gawkers' were clad in North Face jackets, jeans, baseball hats, and college hoodies.
I have nothing against hoodies or North Face. As an avid skier, I have several North Face items I love and rely on heavily during season. I even have a GMU hoodie and tee. I graduated from Mason twice (BA and MA). I often wear my hoodie and/or tee to the gym, when I am cleaning house, or when I am sick. I know 'style' is a personal choice. If someone wants to wear hoodies to a nice restaurant or a baseball hat to Sunday brunch, who am I to judge? And more importantly, how does one's clothing (especially a stranger) effect me? In addition, how does *my* choice to wear vintage effect others? The answer to those questions is, "it doesn't."
Not taking personal taste into consideration, I would like to know why we, as a society, have become so casual. When did a nice hat, suit, and tie morph into "business casual?"
For example, these two looks below:
This casual vein has permeated every locale from the workplace, weekend errands, sporting events, airline travel to cruising. When I was little, I actually remember dressing up whenever my family and I travelled on a plane. Even when we dined out, all of us dressed nicely. Nowadays, whether it's seat 11B on United Flight 916 non-stop to Denver or the corner table by the window in Ruth's Chris, people wear everything from Juicy Couture tracksuits to Old Navy tees.
On a recent flight to Fort Lauderdale, I saw a mother and teen daughter decked out in matching Victoria's Secret "Pink" tracksuits. What is funny is how the mom looked at me (wearing a 50s warm weather suit) like I was yesterday's garbage. Her face actually made a wide-eyed, scrunched nose look. Priceless.
Again, I am not judging anyone for their choice of wardrobe. I am trying to figure out how dressing super casual became the norm. Also, why do I get odd looks when I am dressed nicely and tastefully? Now, I am sure the main reason(s) people stare is simply because I wear vintage. I understand that seeing seamed stockings and saddle shoes on someone nowadays is not typical whatsoever! Despite the vintage element, I am still dressed well. I do not judge others' style. Sure, there is a part of me that wants to "call them out" on their audacity to stare at me like I am the weirdo when they look like they stumbled out bed. But, I refrain from doing so. It's not fair nor it is my place.
So, the questions are: why did "casual" become mainstream? And, is there such a thing as 'too casual?'