I greatly enjoy your reflections. There are, indeed, some real deals piling up out there, literally, as tastes change. Clothes are such dear and familiar companions, and we remember them as clearly as we remember departed family and friends. As a result changes that took place quite long ago by most standards seem newer than they really are. Comfortable evening wear is something I figured out in the 1970s. I cannot imagine binding myself in overly fitted evening clothes, starched shirt, and patent leather shoes that pinch.Just in the past year, I have seen, and benefitted from, the inflow of high-quality traditional suits and sportcoats into thrift shops. Whether there will be a return to these kinds of clothing in the near future is hard to foretell. If history is any guide, these trends are cyclical, so a period of informal dressing might be followed by a resurgence of formal styles.
The other major factor that affects clothing styles and trends is cultural change. Over the last hundred years or so, we have seen a drift from very formal (almost staid), cuts, styles and colours in men's clothes to more informal ones. Tailcoats, stiff celluloid collars and heavily starched shirtfronts are antiques now. The trend has been towards softer fabrics, more comfortable, natural-shouldered jackets, and more vibrant colours.
I think this trend reflects general changes in the culture in the direction of greater informality in behaviour and social attitudes -- a move away from more traditional, and dare I say more rigid, manners and mores, toward more informal and flexible codes of deportment and behaviour. How long this trend will continue is hard to tell. Perhaps things will become so soft and flexible -- think of sweatsuits in airplanes -- that people will decide they have had enough of it and take up more formal clothing.
Formality and tradition are both factors that point towards consistency, sincerity and integrity in our history as a culture, at least in the Western countries. Maybe I'm an old fogey, but I still think of a good grey flannel suit as a badge of integrity. And the simple addition of a sports jacket to my clothes, on any given day, still gets me a more respectful, and even appreciative attitude from everyone I come into contact with on that day. It is as though they are a bit grateful, a tad happy, that someone bothers to put on a jacket!
As Doris Day famously sang: Que sera, sera. The philosophers would say that is what they call a tautology, LOL.
Your thrifting finds are impressive, but I am pretty firmly committed to sticking with my sharply pared post retirement wardrobe. We shall see how long that lasts! It does, however, look safe as we head into another Texas summer, a season designed for Patagonia stand up shorts, tee shirts, flip flops, gimme caps, and puffy tacos with Corona light and lime.