Are We Dressing to Disrespect Ourselves?

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I was standing in line at a Panera Bread awhile back when a family came in. One of their children was clad in pajamas, bathrobe and all! This wasn’t an early morning or late night, either. Despite the fact that I’m not a parent, I still understand that sometimes, with kids, you pick your battles. Maybe that boy’s mom was just relieved to get her son to wear ANYTHING AT ALL so they could JUST LEAVE THE HOUSE, ALREADY, WILLIAM! But this isn’t the first time I’ve seen pajamas in public.

I used to see it frequently in college when people came in to write their final exams. It made sense in a weird way – they wanted maximum comfort so they can focus on their test. It wasn’t that long ago, though, that I bet a student would have been kicked out of class for wearing sleepwear. I’m all about changing outdated and unhelpful fashion “rules”. But are we getting to the point where we don’t even respect ourselves with how we dress? Or is this just another part of societal change?

The emperor has no clothes

Fashion is a constantly-evolving art form. However, most people don’t really use their clothing to artistically-express themselves. An outfit has a purpose for them – something easy to wear to go grab groceries, or something flattering for a night out. I believe that most of us spend way too much time policing what other people wear. As long as a person is wearing an outfit that is appropriate to the occasion (you probably wouldn’t wear a bathing suit to a funeral home) and it isn’t offensive (a t-shirt with racial slurs), people should generally be allowed to wear what want. However, I can’t help but notice that we, as a society, seem to have gotten sloppy in the way that we dress.

One place I notice this change is in young women. Now, I hate that young women always seem to be judged the most harshly for no matter what they’re wearing. At the same time, young women are usually at the forefront of fashion trends. If I see a bunch of them wearing a particular outfit, I tend to take note. Has anyone else noticed how young women have taken to wearing GIGANTIC, oversized t-shirts, paired with shorts so short you’re not even sure they’re wearing anything else? I don’t mean to imply that we need to call the village elders for a meeting or shame them into hiding their bodies. It’s just a very strange look, in my opinion, and seems to demonstrate a lack of care.

Clothes don’t seem to make the man

Young women aren’t the only ones who seem to have stopped caring how they look. Everywhere I go, I see people in extremely casual clothing in places that I’d never have thought I would. My husband takes pride in his appearance and is always worried about being underdressed when we go anywhere. I always tell him, “Honey, I hate to break it to you – literally no one cares what 40-year-old men wear.” If we go somewhere and he wears slacks, all the other men will always be in jeans and t-shirts…and not nice, clean ones either. We could be at the theatre, or out to an upscale dinner – people seem to have stopped dressing nicely. I’ve even heard from job-seekers that they get told specifically NOT to dress up for a job interview for certain companies. The one place I thought it was still important to look your best!

But am I the one who is behind the times? As I said, people have long held opinions about the way other people dress. Some of those opinions are just snarky and mean, but some of them can be dangerous. I will fight anyone who implies that a person deserves unwanted sexual attention or harassment for the whatever he or she is wearing. Still, though no one deserves poor treatment because we dislike his or her outfit, that doesn’t mean that people still can’t take care with how they look.

Find your style

I strongly recommend that people try to cultivate a personal style. And that style might just be casual! It might even include pajamas in public! (My favorite musician, Mayer Hawthorne, does this. But he’s created a personal brand around it. And his pajamas are probably super expensive!) When you find a way of dressing that you really enjoy, it actually makes choosing an outfit so much easier. Whatever you decide to wear, know that you’re worth that little bit of extra effort. And I’ll still love you, even in your public pajamas.

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