I feel like society today is all about dressing down and being casual in an effort to:
1. Prove how not important clothes are to life except to clothe oneself – what about world hunger issues? And how the planet is basically imploding!?
2. Secretly convey that they are too intellectual and/or rich to care about frivolous things like style or clothes
3. Separate themselves from the pack of vapid, vain, preening sets of folks who actually care and spend money caring
Dressing up is not a bad thing
I’ve already waxed poetic about being annoyed at how people always keep asking me why I am always so dressed up.
Dressing up, is (today), for me, seen as trying too hard, or trying to be someone you are not or worse, that you are trying to dress and be someone else for other people.
Really.. I just want to dress up.
I just want to look nice, no matter the situation — going to the grocery store, going thrifting, it doesn’t matter.
It is more for me, than for anyone else. I like the way it makes me feel (gives me a confidence boost), and that boost translates into me being more friendlier because I feel better about myself.
When I dress like crap, or am in an outfit I am not comfortable in or don’t think looks good, I’m subconsciously nervous about it all day, and it translates. I can see myself fidgeting, and just generally not feeling great.
Even for something people DON’T see, like pedicured feet, I am starting to appreciate and enjoy the fact that I have nicely painted toes, even if they are stuffed into boots or heels all day. It makes me feel good, than to feel or know that I have callused, rough feet hiding in socks.
Clothes put into context matters
But the thing they all miss in this assumption is that you have to dress for the context of life.
It is a stereotype to assume that if you are someone who cares about style and wants to dress nicely, it means you’re shallow and vain.
Dressing well and acquiring the skill to do so, is a worthy endeavour as it can open doors to opportunities you did not deem possible.
It shows that you care and place importance on being well-presented and appropriately so (you won’t wear a suit to the beach for instance) to the world no matter the situation because you are smart enough to recognize the deep-seated social markers in doing so.
Case in point — How would you dress for the following?
Casual or Formal?
Sweatpants or Jeans and a nice shirt?
Wedding (assuming no dress code):
Jeans and a shirt or a nice dressy outfit?
Going to the beach:
Dressy formal suit or casual linen & swimwear?
Context matters and instead of thinking that only “special” exceptions as I have listed out are the only situations were one should be conscious of what they wear, you should consider that everyday life is the same.
Your life is your own personal stage
Do you really want to run into people or potential contacts you know, dressed in stained sweatpants and a freebie tee even while running errands and doing groceries?
You never know.
Just because those special events have a formal or informal dress code it doesn’t mean that the rest of your life doesn’t.
Our clothes are our uniforms
Society imposed a dress code on us whether we realize it or not, and going against it can be very cool but more often than not, people rebel against it for misguided reasons in wanting to not seem shallow or to look stupid.
Think about the dress code you expect when you go to see the doctor.
Is she dressed nicely or in loungewear?
How about a police officer?
Are they in uniform or are they in sweatpants and a tee with a badge? (Not assuming plain clothes, you know what I mean).
Which would convey security and trust?
This is why even security guard companies have uniforms, so that they look professional.
Or a banker — are they in jeans or a suit? Which one conveys trust, confidence and money?
To not play the game because you want to be different and unique, is just putting yourself at a disadvantage.
Be unique and different with what and how you wear your items in the context of your own uniform.
Have a great lining hidden in a wool jacket!
Wear funny socks under a serious suit.
Have a wrap dress with a whimsical elephant print on it like I do.
There are fun ways to be different and still be considered well-dressed even if you’re rocking distressed jeans!
Don’t confuse stylish with trendy
Making sure that you care about clothes is not a frivolous endeavour.
You don’t need to be trendy to be stylish.
There are classic combinations of outfits that have endured for a reason — stick to them and this uniform by all means!
A collared striped shirt or a white shirt and jeans always looks nice.
Look at within those ‘rules’, how different a striped shirt outfit can be:
You don’t need a lot of money to be well-dressed either!
You can buy secondhand items, go thrifting and buy off Kijiji for instance, or eBay.
All of this, just means that in exchange for getting something cheaper or paying less money, you need to put in more TIME and EFFORT.
You need to be able to be patient, spend time checking constantly, waiting for your item in your size to come up so that you can buy it for a fraction of the retail price.
These two outfits for instance? 99% secondhand or thrifted.
The only items that were purchased at retail is the clutch in cognac, and the black belt in the right-hand picture.
Everything else was secondhand or deeply discounted.