We’ve lost our dress sense

Go! & Express - - Go! People - ... with Charles Ben­ing­field

WOMEN love to dress up; right? So par­don me for be­ing a lit­tle fuddy-duddy this morn­ing.

My ques­tion is: Are men be­com­ing too care­less and ca­sual in their dress habits?

Has he, in other words, aban­doned his sense of dress­ing suit­ably and when the oc­ca­sion calls for it to com­pli­ment his part­ner?

The thought struck me one evening re­cently when we at­tended a show at the Guild Theatre. The women were beau­ti­fully turned out while many of the men were Harry Ca­sual to say the least.

Not so long ago it was un­think­able to wear any­thing else but a suit for the of­fice.

Most men put on din­ner jack­ets and black ties for the theatre. Any­one turn­ing up at a de­cent restaurant in an open-necked shirt was likely to be shown the door.

When one went to town on a Satur­day morn­ing it was al­ways in a blazer and tie. A cer­tain for­mal­ity was de­manded by a man’s so­cial or busi­ness po­si­tion, by his am­bi­tions, by his re­spect for con­ven­tion and by the ex­am­ple of his wom­en­folk.

A young chap used to look for­ward to his first suit. When his fa­ther bought him one it was a thing of pride, for it showed that he had grown up. And the day his first evening suit was achieved – well, that was some­thing else!

How things have changed. For most so­cial oc­ca­sions nowa­days, jeans, T-shirt and takkies will do and of­fice work­ers, even those who have di­rect con­tact with the pub­lic turn up in open-necked flo­ral shirts, slacks and even san­dals and you’d swear that some of the fe­male staff were about to set off for the beach rather than pre­par­ing for a day’s work!

Some of you will argue that “clothes do not make the man,” that one good thing about the mod­ern age is that it has done away with stuffi­ness, for­mal­ity and un­due con­cern for con­ven­tion; that this is an open-air age of sport and re­lax­ation; that a man can work as well in ca­sual clothes as he can in more for­mal at­tire; that he can wor­ship his God just as well in a T-shirt and jeans as he can in a black suit.

Please, this is not an ap­peal for a re­turn of Vic­to­rian stuffi­ness or a bid to put men back into the stiff, dull clothes of yes­ter­year. And I do not argue that be­cause a man is well­dressed he must au­to­mat­i­cally suc­ceed.

Life is not like that. But don’t you think that a re­turn to greater “ap­pro­pri­ate­ness” in dress and to a sense of “oc­ca­sion” in clothes would be of ben­e­fit to ev­ery­one?

Ca­sual clothes are for the oc­ca­sion for which they are suited – knock­ing about at home, in the gar­den and watch­ing sport.

For the of­fice and for­mal oc­ca­sions, which demand a smart, neat ap­pear­ance, it would be a pleas­ant change to present our­selves ac­cord­ingly.

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