This is not a post about cosplay or costuming.
I’ve been thinking about how we dress lately. It occurred to me, after taking my wife to dinner for her birthday on a Friday night, that I was the only person in the restaurant wearing a necktie, or for that matter, a more formal shirt and slacks. I don’t often wear ties, but for special occasions I like to look sharp. I grew up with the notion that when you dressed up, you were showing the person of honor — at a wedding, birthday party, funeral, or other formal occasion — that you were making a better than usual effort in their honor.
It seems like Americans don’t dress up much any more. Perhaps this is an outdated notion, but I am charmed by the thought that someone would get dressed up in a nice shirt, slacks, and not everyday shoes — with or without necktie — to show someone that this person is important in their lives, and you want to make an effort to impress them.
I think this is far more true for men than women. Men seem to not care as much about their appearance — probably because men are judged less on their appearance than are women — but the fact that most men seem to have moved away from having a nice set of clothes makes me sad. Having a set of dressier clothes changes things up, gives everyone something new to look at, and, again, it conveys the impression that we’re doing this to honor someone else.
I don’t think dressing up is super-important: being at an event to show your support is far more important that what you’re wearing, I think. In times such as we live in now, many people don’t have the spare scratch lying around to buy a set of clothes they will only wear once in a while, and that’s an important point, too. Dressing up is a middle- and upper-class affectation as far as I can tell, and with the disappearance of the middle-class in the United States, behaviors likes these become increasingly more rare. Perhaps it will be fashionable again one day; in the mean time, I need to replace the suit I’ve “grown out of” so I’m ready for the next wedding that’s on the near horizon.