The next time you bemoan (or hear someone bemoan) the proliferation of casual dress in Americans today, please remember these five things:
- For centuries, clothing was specifically used to identify social class, gender, and age. It's only been recently that Americans have been able to break free from these culturally imposed norms and express personal identitythrough self image. This is a good thing.
- Formal attire is expensive. The people who complain about the casual dress of Americans today tend to be the people who can afford more formal attire and are probably blind to their own good fortune and privilege.
- Owning a wardrobe consisting of both formal and less formal attire is also expensive. Once again, the people who complain about the casual dress of Americans today tend to be the people who can afford more expansive and diverse wardrobes and are probably blind to their own good fortune and privilege.
- For many people, clothing is not nearly as important as investments in education, experiences, and their children's futures. Complaining about the proliferation of casual dress in America today is to argue that your priorities are the right priorities. This makes you a jackass of the highest order.
- People who are concerned with the physical appearance of others tend to be some of the smallest, most insignificant people on the planet. Our kindergarten teachers taught us not to judge books by their covers. These are people who need to go back to kindergarten.
Historian Deirdra Clemente says it better than me: