katon

Super Member
1,092
Christmas Island
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N/A
In studying history, there is a term called "presentism"; taking the meaning of things today and projecting them into the past. This is easy to do with clothes, too.

Khakis were the cargo pants of the 1950s. Loafers were for easy-going loafers who didn't wear proper lace-up shoes. The reactionaries were the ones who grumbled about shirts with soft collars and how when they were young every respectable man wore a stiff-collared shirt.

This is hard to see from today, because as styles age they naturally become more formal, slowly climbing their way up the scale. So the bum wearing a tie seems striking, when at the time it was not really so.
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
7,614
United States
New York
NY
In studying history, there is a term called "presentism"; taking the meaning of things today and projecting them into the past. This is easy to do with clothes, too.

Khakis were the cargo pants of the 1950s. Loafers were for easy-going loafers who didn't wear proper lace-up shoes. The reactionaries were the ones who grumbled about shirts with soft collars and how when they were young every respectable man wore a stiff-collared shirt.

This is hard to see from today, because as styles age they naturally become more formal, slowly climbing their way up the scale. So the bum wearing a tie seems striking, when at the time it was not really so.
I think - I'm not sure - I was trying to make a similar point or, at least, an oblique one to yours. Yes, today it would seem ludicrous to give a homeless man a tie (up there with Marie Antoinette's cake offering), but it wasn't in '49 as almost everyone - at almost every social level - wanted to dress nicely by that day's standards.

Today, it's a muddle, but not dressing up - running a billion dollar company and wearing a hoodie - is a way of signaling your specialness / in '49, almost everyone wanted to signal they dressed well by wearing suits and ties.

The exact point I was trying to draw out is that it wasn't the "rules" that some club or school imposed that drove dressing standards, it was the cultural norms - the unwritten rules that everyone internalizes - that drove dressing standards.

Today, we'd call it the narrative or meme - but whatever you call it, say a social convention, dressing well was so consciously and subconsciously accepted back then that a homeless man would sincerely want a tie and a kind person would genuinely think it a good thing to give him one.

That is amazing to today's thinking, which, to your point (I think, don't want to speak for you), is because "presentism" prevents us from fully appreciation the powerful conventions around the dressing standards of that time.
 

TimF

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
239
United States
New York
New York City
Today's culture is much more fragmented than 70 years ago. So instead of a (more or less) monolithic definition of properly-dressed, today there are 50 definitions, and you have to be smart as to the particular social milieu you're appealing to.
 

Flanderian

Connoisseur
21,097
United States
New Jersey
Flanders
Today's culture is much more fragmented than 70 years ago. So instead of a (more or less) monolithic definition of properly-dressed, today there are 50 definitions, and you have to be smart as to the particular social milieu you're appealing to.
I've made that simple; I appeal to mine! :D
 

challer

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
324
United States
Virginia
Alexandria
It didn’t die. It changed. Most of us are addicted to a single point in time. It was way different before trad came along
 

Mike Petrik

Honors Member
4,075
United States
Georgia
Atlanta
It didn’t die. It changed. Most of us are addicted to a single point in time. It was way different before trad came along
I suppose one can regard "please do not arrive undressed" as a dress code of sorts, even if a sadly impoverished one.

In any case, trad was and is nothing more that an organic contribution of slightly more relaxed alternatives into the preexisting and continuing classic Anglo-American sartorial tradition.
 
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Oldsport

Senior Member
981
United States
New Jersey
Swedesboro
"It was way different before trad came along."

That sounds interesting. How so?
 

Mr. B. Scott Robinson

Super Member
1,665
Atlanta, Georgia
United States
Georgia
Atlanta
Take heart American brethren,
for most of the world, this is a non issue.

I have lived on several continents, with school age children.

In South Africa, Kenya and Pakistan, all school age children wear uniforms. No debate. School = uniform. Great!

My daughter attended public school in the UK and uniforms were the norm with the exception of 6th form where learners in their final year were allowed to wear traditional business suits. The dress code was rigidly enforced. On the flip side, Upper School learners were allowed to drink alcohol on campus under closely monitored conditions, at the campus “BOP”. Such a concept was completely alien to this American parent.

My observations....school uniforms eliminate the student “dress to impress” problem, with all students wearing the same same every day. I found uniforms to be far less expensive than other types of clothing and school uniform swaps often resulted in virtually free dress for my offspring after an initial investment in one or two suits of clothes. Donning a uniform provided my children with an opportunity to prepare mentally for the school day, never needing concern themselves with “what to wear” each morning. I observed that uniforms created a sense of school pride with children from various schools being easily identifiable by their school kit with old boy/girls continuing to don their school colors at events for decades after leaving. Finally, uniforms created an environment which fostered learning, eliminating all distractions relating to pajamas, visible underwear, short shorts, low riding trousers, £350 trainers, hair the colors of the rainbow, etc.

The educational environment has many places to encourage youthful self expression including art, music, literature, theater, and sport.

If one wants their child to wear a school uniform, send them to a public, private or parochial school that requires one. Simple.

Cheers,

BSR
 

Hebrew Barrister

Senior Member
697
United States
texas
yourmomtown
The fact is, for the vast majority of people, when they go out for an interview, they'll wear whatever idea of "nice clothes" they get from their parents, their older brother/sister, or the internet. And another fact is that in the vast majority of cases, their interviewer will subscribe to the same notions of what "nice clothes" are. Unless you're trying to get a job in business/finance or government, the standards are low (and getting lower even in those fields). But there is a community standard of sorts - it's not J. Press or Brooks Brothers, but it's there, and it's the reality. We can bemoan it, but it seems to me that this issue of a more general lowering of standards isn't really being addressed, negatively or positively, by the current change. School dress codes at anywhere but religious or fancy prep schools haven't mandated coats and ties, let alone collared shirts and leather shoes, for a long time. Whether or not the Austin schools change the dress code as you describe, it will not subtract from students' readiness to interview - that has been done as much as it will be done by wider societal changes.

Speaking as a New England prep school teacher myself, I can say that it doesn't matter much to me what my students wear, as long as it doesn't distract the class from the topic at hand. As much as I'd be pleased to see the young men in my classes wear what I wear (what could be called the traditional men's clothing of the 1960s-1980s), I know it's not going to happen, and I'm also quite happy to live in a world which, increasingly, values what's in young people's minds rather than what store they buy their shoes from, or what school's name is on their high school diploma. And, of course, while it may seem odd to someone used to dressing as we dress, many young people care deeply about what joggers or t-shirts or fleece jackets they wear, just as much as kids in the 1960s cared about hook vents or flap-pocket OCBDs or Weejuns.

EDIT: a quick anecdote, playing Devil's advocate about this whole thing. I went to graduate school in the recent past in New York City, near one of the aforementioned "fancy prep schools" which mandates leather shoes, a collared shirt, and chinos as its uniform (no jacket or tie required). It was always interesting to me how poorly the students dressed. They clearly had no idea of what nice shoes were, or how to wear good clothing, and they wore ill-fitting clothes - and, on top of that, clearly resented the fact that they had to wear them and did everything they could to skirt around the requirements. So a more "classic" dress code in 2019 does not, in my view, accomplish the same thing it did in 1959, let alone 1969 or even 1989.
I graduated high school in 96, and have no memories of ever wearing anything but whatever I felt like to school (and I'm even including elementary school). Shorts, t-shirts, and ugly nikes were my norm up until high school, at which point I discovered jeans and boots.

I attempted to dress a bit better when I was in law school (we're talking about an upgrade to polos and less ugly sneakers), and I rarely saw students in anything better unless it was for a specific reason (moot court competition, etc).

My point - dress codes in school largely died a long time ago.

And know what? Despite this, I grew up to be a well dressed adult, without ever feel uncomfortable about it. I think you guys are wringing hands over this too much.