Saturday, October 17, 2015

Dressed for the Occasion

     Jerry Seinfeld has a comedy bit about how men wear the same clothes for most of their lives. Whatever they were wearing when they were in their 30s -- that's the style they wear for the rest of their lives.

     It was certainly true of my dad. He started his career in the late 1930s. He worked in an office. By the time I came along he was wearing his 1940s-style suit with wide lapels. He had a white shirt, oxford shoes and fedora hat.

     I remember he used to pay me 10 cents to shine his shoes. I would watch him shave in the morning, using a shaving brush and a mug of shaving soap. In the winter he wore a vest, complete with a pocket watch, with a thin chain draped across his stomach. And this was his style, right up until the day he retired in the mid-1980s.

     You can see the kind of clothes he wore if you watch a black-and-white movie from the 1940s. Or, maybe featured on Mad Men, which was channeling the 1950s, although I'm sure the Mad Men suits were cut with a little more style.

Standard fashion
     Then, after he retired to Florida in the mid-1980s, my dad adopted the leisure wear look that had been popular in the 1950s -- the Polo shirt, casual Polyester slacks and loud sports jacket. He never went so far as to wear the white shoes. Too flashy. But he did sometimes don a straw hat -- the kind Dick Van Dyke wore in Mary Poppins.

     My mother was marginally more up-to-date . . . but not by much. She never wore slacks, only a dress or skirt. And I remember she wore a hat in church. It was a big day (whenever that happened, sometime in the 1960s) when the ladies were no longer required to wear a hat in church. Horrors! But you'd never catch my mother in church with a bare head.

     I make fun of my parents, but in truth, I'm no different. As I confessed a few blog posts ago, I'm a man of the 1990s. I still wear my Dockers, my polo shirt -- my corporate casual dress shirt when I go out to a restaurant. For special occasions I still wear the navy blue blazer that I bought in the 1990s  (although B made me buy a new suit for her son's wedding last spring). And dress shoes for me? Penny loafers.

Fashion of the future
     At least I'm better than my friend Mike. He's recently retired, but when he was working he went to a lot of meetings, conferences, conventions and golf outings. His style of dress? Whatever they gave him for free at one of his meetings 10 or 20 years ago. Hats, shirts, jackets, umbrellas. He's a walking advertisement for corporate and government meetings from the last decade.

     But what has me worried is my son. He wears a black cap emblazoned with the word "Devil" across the front. He sports a hipster's short beard. He invariably dresses in skinny jeans and a black t-shirt with the name of a rock band on it --  "Bad Breeding," "Fight Like Apes," "Warm Brew," "Rat Fist," "Night Riots."

     Now, to be fair, my son is not quite 30 yet, and he is in the music business. Still, is he going to be wearing a "No Brain" or "Karma Killers" t-shirt 40 years from now when he goes in for his Medicare checkup?



DJan said...

Who knows what he'll be wearing? I laughed when I read this as I remembered my mother's dress-up outfit always included several necklaces and bracelets, which looked so out of place to me, even then. I wore jeans at work, and now I wear cargo pants, now that I'm retired. I love the extra pockets. :-)

Barbara said...

Hilarious but true. I find I still want to wear the "hippie clothes" of the 1970s. I was in my 20s then. I was 30 in the 1980s and had two children so I don't even know if I had a style during the '80s but I can see what you mean. Great post. Love to travel down memory lane.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, well, I am different. Ever since I retired in 2001, I have been wearing muumuus (long Hawaiian dresses) night and day. David wears Tshirts and shorts around the house, and Aloha shirts and long pants when he goes to the symphony, opera, or fine restaurants.

Wisewebwoman said...

I think this applies to me too. I mean I did the mini thing in the sixties but after that I melted into a style that hasn't changed. I threw away skirts and dresses many moons ago and now live in jeans, dress pants when called for, and I absolutely love vests in the winter. And sweaters and scarves.

It will be fun to see how your son evolves.


Kathy @ SMART Living said...

Hi Tom! Think of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Steven Tyler. They will probably be 100 and still wearing those skinny jeans and t-shirts so your son will be fine. I do think we get a bit stuck in the rut with our, I've in the desert southwest most of my life and wear shorts on hot days, jeans on cold. That's not likely to change either. ~Kathy

Denise said...

I am a child of the 70s also and if left to myself, it's jeans and t shirt for me. Well, it's October, long t shirt! I did what I had to do for various jobs; working as a church secretary and at another time working in a bank with a strict dress code, but now that it's all over, I'll take my jeans and t-shirt, in a SLIGHTLY larger size!

Although I giggle at the "hat in church" idea, there are some places, church being one, that I want to look put together for. I write this as I am ready to leave for church. I have brown "dockers" (they are LLBean) slacks, a white long t-shirt and a nice pink printed shirt over it. Don't have a lot of jewelry going on today.

Good article!

Meryl Baer said...

My brother-in-law recently retired and now wears tie-dyed shirts, baggy jeans and long hair...I was thrilled to push to the back of my closet my office work clothes. I wear sweats around the house purchased at the outlet. My 'going out' outfit is black jeans, not skinny ones, unfortunately on my age 60s+ figure...

Stephen Hayes said...

Can't imagine what they'll be wearing in forty years. If I'm around I'll probably be wearing clothes already hanging in my closet.

Pam said...

I'll bet your son will be just fine--my kids were brought up under the same roof and have totally different styles of dress. I think it depends on the person. One of the best things about being retired is the freedom to dress the way I want. Tom, you and your male readers won't "get" this, but many of us gals lived in pantyhose, heels and other garments meant to improve us. Thank goodness those days are long gone. Now I choose comfort 75% of the time, and something comfy and classic when I'm in public. Somedays I think I should be wearing a "No Brain" t-shirt like your son!!

Olga Hebert said...

That is really interesting. I wore jeans as a teenager and I wear them now but not in the in between years and not all the time ever. I love to put on skirts and dresses and try new things. I wore teacher clothes for many years and I don't miss them at all!

Retired English Teacher said...

Loved this post. It is so easy to get stuck wearing the same thing. My husband could care less how he dresses. He's so glad to be done with dressing for work as a high school principal. Now, he works at the Apple Store and must wear a uniform for work. That suits him. He doesn't have to think about it.

I still love to dress for the occasion. I love dresses and nearly always wear them to church. Around the house, I find I live in the same thing day in and day out.

Anonymous said...

My Dad wore various uniforms...Soil Conservation Service, Forestry Service, etc. then he wore clothes that befit a logging crew foreman. Later he formed his own business and wore suits and white shirts. After he retired he wore gardening clothes and grew beautiful roses. He was fond of jersey shirts and string ties like the cowboys wore. He was descended from the Puritans, Republican and Conservative and he never looked "retired." My grandfather ( his dad) was a retired RR engineer and wore blue until 1949. After he retired he wore a white shirt and bow tie every day, walked to mass every morning and when he died at 92 he was wearing a white shirt and bow tie. The men in my family have never gone for leisure clothing, it isn't done.

Jerry Seinfield is a New Yorker and they think NY is the center of the universe. Until they retire to FL.

olynjyn said...

I am headed to the Social Security Office after lunch to get my paperwork time-stamped to sign up for Medicare Part B prior to October 31st to get in on the lower premium rate. Many thanks again for making that information known.

As I grew up, my grandfather always wore kahki pants and a chambray shirt, long sleeved in winter and short sleeved in summer. My dad always wore dark green work pants and white t-shirt in summer and put a flannel shirt over it in winter. He owned his own construction business and wore this same apparel all his life. They both wore suits to church. I used to work in middle management and wore the heels and dressy clothes, suits and skirt/blazer until casual Friday's kicked in 20 years ago. Gradually, the heels and dressier attire faded and now it is almost sloppy the way some folks come to work. Capris and sandals and long sloppy t-shirts...I am glad that we don't have to wear heels anymore because I broke my foot years ago and can no longer walk in heels, but I do think a dress code might be in order in a business atmosphere since it has really gone down hill lately in my opinion.