Dressing Up is Cool Again

For the longest time I’ve been remarking to anyone who would care to listen that I could never understand why people think it’s OK to wear the same thing out to a restaurant  for dinner that they would wear doing their laundry. I really don’t think everyone needs to go out dressed to the nines — far from it. But I think, frankly, I’ve absorbed the Italian dictum of dressing for the stage, so to speak… And I mean whatever stage you find yourself on.

To take a little care in putting yourself together shows a respect for yourself as well as those around you. That’s what I learned from my mother and her Old World European sensibility.

This article comes from my favorite section in the Wall Street Journal, Off Duty, which runs on the weekend. I’m always clipping interesting stories about menswear and this one really hit home for me. It’s called “Jacket (Not) Required” and it’s about how despite the fact that practically every restaurant under the sun has dropped its jacket-and-tie requirement, “a new generation of formality-loving dandies is choosing (not being told) to dress up.”

According to Tyler Thoreson of the web site Gilt Manual, it amounts to “a rebellion against our fathers, and the casual baby-boomer generation.”

Photo by David Field for The Wall Street Journal

My favorite quote comes from writer Gay Talese. I have to laugh when he says (with characteristic forthrightness) that when he sees people around him at a  restaurant dressed like hell, he thinks “why aren’t you at a  baseball game, or eating popcorn somewhere? Anywhere but here.”

He summarizes my thoughts perfectly: “Dressing conscientiously is exalting in the act of being alive. When you go out on the town, it’s an act of celebration…that you’re here.”


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