Earlier this week I was at Walmart and saw someone who needed to be on People of Walmart but unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to take a picture. This was an older woman. Her body seemed to be rather barrel shaped and she had long skinny, wrinkly legs and she was wearing a very short, hot pink knit dress. In fact, I’m fairly certain that it was meant to be a top. To be fair, it’s possible that she had short shorts on underneath but I didn’t see any and it looked like she just had on an extremely short dress and that with the next gust of wind her sixty-year-old hoo-hah would be on display for the whole world to see.
So of course I started writing this post in my head but before I could get around to actually writing it I saw Peter Lappin’s excellent post, Should We Dress Better? It’s a very thoughtful post and there is some great discussion in the comments.
I am very conflicted on this issue. I honestly do believe everyone should have the freedom to wear whatever they like. However, it drives me crazy that so many people choose to dress like Larry the Cable Guy or the female equivalent. You know… I don’t expect everyone to wear hats and gloves to the grocery store…
…but it would be nice if most people would at least try to look like they own a mirror. People claim they dress down because they want to be comfortable but I think there is more to it than that. I blame the 70′s. I guess it really started in the 60′s but I remember that one was still expected to at least look decent in public if not “dressed up.” But it was in the 70′s that society started piling on the rules and we haven’t stopped since. I’m talking about “political correctness.” Some of these new rules were good and needed but soon it wasn’t enough that we respect everyone equally regardless of race or gender. We had to have all these specific rules about what we could say and do and even what we should think. And it never ends. Everyone is always trying to add more rules and even if some of them are good rules it gets tiresome.
But we can dress however we please and so we do. We feel that it’s one of the few things in our lives that we can control. The old rules about how to dress in public remain with us at least in our minds and we dress to defy those rules. It’s the one area of our lives where we can say, “Screw you. I’ll do what I please.” But, as it happens with most rebellions, what was done in defiance of the old set of rules has become the new set of rules. If we dress in a way that was once considered proper we risk being ridiculed for being “overdressed” or even “dowdy”.
Right now it seems impossible that the pendulum could swing the other way and people would once again dress as if they care – that exposed bra straps and boxers would once again be taboo and that clothes, even if they are casual, might fit properly. And that people would once again feel the need to dress appropriately for special occasions. But every movement starts with just a few rebels. Those of us who believe in dressing decently to go out in public are the new rebels. Or maybe we’re just old farts, but I don’t want to believe that. I want to believe that there are a few young women out there who want look nice, not skanky. Be bold! Dress up a little and go to Walmart and when a slovenly person asks “What are you dressed up for?” give them a puzzled look and say, “I’m dressed up to go Walmart, of course.”
UPDATE: I know part of the problem, at least in this area, is that, for people who don’t sew, decent clothes are hard to find. It seems like most of the clothes I see in stores are either sloppy or skanky, with the exception of western wear, which is not everyone’s style. It certainly isn’t mine.