A week or so ago my wife and I went out to dinner at our favorite local Italian restaurant, a modestly upscale establishment, and as such, one of perhaps three in our entire geographic area.
We enjoyed the meal, as always, but I have to say that I was definitely distracted by the couple at the adjoining table, given that the male of the pair was wearing a tee-shirt of the type I usually reserve for exercise and yardwork, complimented by non-matching shorts that looked more like those worn by basketball players, and sandals. The woman with him was dressed very slightly more suitably.
Now, I know why the restaurant didn’t turn them away on grounds of attire – simply because it’s newish and is still running on the bare edge of profitability – and, in fact, one of the reasons we frequent it, in addition to the excellent food and setting [disregarding the attire of some patrons], is because we want it to survive and prosper and to continue to provide a higher level of food and service than all the fast-food outlets and mid-scale chain restaurants that proliferate in a regional university town.
Nonetheless, I am frankly baffled and astounded by what so many people wear out in public in the name of comfort(?) or convenience (?). The Italian restaurant is not exorbitant in its pricing, but it’s anything but bare-bones cheap, either, and I’m certain those thankfully few of its all too casually dressed patrons could certainly afford better attire than tee-shirts and running/basketball shorts, although from what I’ve seen advertised some of that sort of attire actually costs more than clothing that would seem more suitable to public appearances and dining in restaurants.
I understand the supposed lure of comfort, but what I don’t understand is why so many people wear “outfits” (for lack of a better term) that make them look their worst. There are plenty of clothes that are comfortable, affordable, and enhance the wearer’s presence – or at least don’t worsen his or her appearance. One fashion designer was reputed to have said that his clothes were designed to make a woman look more attractive than if she were stark naked, and as I unfortunately age, I know that my clothed appearance is definitely more attractive than my unclothed appearance.
The same general observation goes for men’s and women’s grooming. Why are hair “styles” and beard styles seemingly designed to make the wearer look worse? Or have people gotten so narcissistic that they can’t tell what does look good? And don’t tell me it’s for convenience… beards so unkempt that they get into everything including food, and that everything gets into, aren’t exactly convenient. I’m not against facial hair per se, and I have several acquaintances who look far better in their well-trimmed beards than they would bare-faced, but what’s with the growth of slovenly clothing and grooming that seems to be spreading? Is it just another aspect of the “shock culture? If so, I’ll admit I find it shocking, shockingly stupid and ill-mannered. But then I’m an anachronistic troglodyte who believes in wearing in public clean clothes that are actually clothing, as opposed to excessive skin-exposing exercise gear, and at least vaguely match, and grooming that doesn’t make people want to move away in fear and disgust.