The Wall Street Journal ran an article recently about the slovenly sartorial stupidity of famous grown men these days. A noted actor stated that he still dressed the way he dressed when he was ten (10) years old. How embarrassing for him.
My youngest daughter loves the movie The Intern with Robert DeNiro and Anne Hathaway. In that film, DeNiro plays an older than average aged intern at Hathaway’s wildly successful e-commerce shopping company. DeNiro dresses in suit and tie every day. He carries a handkerchief. He shaves daily. He owns a bathrobe.
In one scene involving tequila shots, Hathaway bemoans the lack of men in the world. She holds up DeNiro’s well dressed character in opposition to her own T-shirted contemporaries. I get it, Ma’am. I get it.
We still dress here in the Lowcountry.
I carry a handkerchief daily.
I polish my shoes.
I wear a belt.
I tuck in my shirts.
May be it is that Southerners still wear aspiration on their backs.
May be it is the heat.
May be it is compensation for decades and decades of poverty.
May be it is country come to town.
May be it is that all my life I have worn uniforms that identify me to other members of whichever group to which I belong, or wish to belong, by virtue of what I wear.
May be it is that immediate judgment comes from first impressions despite the noble egalitarian fiction and Biblical command that we judge not lest we be judged.
There is always someone watching, someone judging.
No matter the reason, I can ill-relate to the actor who dresses as he did before puberty or to the messy internet workers in The Intern.
DeNiro’s character, I understand.
There has been an expected way to look for me my entire life. No fashion plate or clothes horse am I, but I am not going to wear a Snuggie to the grocery store. I actually saw that at the Harris Teeter on East Bay Street. A College of Charleston student wore a Snuggie. Granted, it was a chilly February morning, but come on, Dude.
I do have a definite devotion to the expected look of the time and the place e.g. that way cool Guatemalan belt with Levi’s cords and Grateful Dead T-shirt circa 1988, the tuxedo for any wedding after 6:00 p.m., the Birdwells and Rainbows on the boat or at the beach.
In a world where standards are few, we are far too casual these days, Ladies and Gentlemen. Far, far too casual.
Athleisure wear worn on the street is fifth horseman of the Apocalypse, the fourth woe unleashed on a sinful and broken world.
Is the eighth trumpet sounding?
Gratefully, I do not hear it, so, instead, I give you the following list of 46 years of conformity.
Man in Uniform, 1972-2020
Feltman Brothers day gowns
Family Christening gown
Leather walking shoes
Hard sole leather shoes with buckles
Wool short pants
Camper shorts with zippers
OP cord shorts
Nylon shell shorts
Grateful Dead t-shirts
Army Navy surplus
Converse All Stars
More button downs
No, literally, Patagonia everything
LL Bean everything
J Crew pocket t’s
Redwing cowboy boots
Irish fisherman sweaters
Brooks Brothers pants
Brooks Brothers suits
Brooks Brothers Non-Iron shirts
Brooks Brothers ties
Brooks Brothers everything
Vineyard Vines ties
Short sleeve button downs (SSBD’s)
Lululemon exercise clothes (but only to actually exercise)
Prince Albert slippers with socks
Prince Albert slippers without socks
White tie and tails
Alligator belts with silver buckles
Punch & Judy
Always clad in uniform.
Always abiding by the code.
An acceptable manner of dress.
Beau Brummell’s Bastards.
With all my love and thanks to MP for making sure I don’t look like a complete idiot when I leave our house.
Apologies to the late Jules-Amedee Barbey d’Aurevilly’s “On Dandyism and George Brummell.”