November 7, 2015

Flotsam & Jetsam: Why I don't dress better

Sam Smith - As a member of the beat generation of the 1950s, clothes rank somewhere below car washing on my list of priorities. And as a child of this period I am stunned that the term we invented - hip - has been so distorted that it now even includes wearing approved coverings for your body.

I early adopted Jonathan Swift's view that "I have always had a sacred veneration for anyone I observed to be a little out of repair in his person, as supposing him either a poet or a philosopher." And Oscar Wilde's assessment that "Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six month." I even went through a Sears Roebuck suit period. And in the 1980s, I wrote:
If the truth be told, I wouldn't mind being considered well dressed. I would love to be elegant if there were not other things I loved more which have a peculiar way of interfering with my efforts to put my best side towards the world. As far back as college, a roommate had me pegged: "You're the only man I know who could make an English tailored suit look as though it came from Robert Hall's." I suffer under the delusion that I work better when I am comfortable. College students, mechanics, farmers all know that.
Another trade that has somewhat maintained honorable indifference to fashion has been journalism, albeit only among its members who do not appear on television.

So I was pleased to see a NY Times article interviewing Wendy Chuck, the fashion designer for Spotlight, a new film about some Boston journalists which included this exchange:
How would you describe the style of journalists?

A. It’s an unthought-about uniform. It mirrors school uniforms really. It’s something you don’t think about when you dress. You don’t really care; you’ve got other things to think about that are not clothes. It says you’re comfortable, but nobody is going to comment on how you look or how you appear. You’re not going to offend anybody. Nobody is going to be able to read much into you.
My 1980s piece on proper attire

No comments: