The fifth in my series of posts in which I give rants against trends that have developed in society since the days of my youth, the halcyon days of the seventies, when leisure suits and disco were sure signs that society was ready to be engulfed in a tide of ignorance, bad taste and general buffoonery.
We have started off the series with a look at seven developments that I view as intensely annoying and proof that many people lack the sense that God granted a goose. I like to refer to these as The Seven Hamsters of the Apocalypse, minor evils that collectively illustrate a society that has entered a slough of extreme stupidity. Each of the Seven Hamsters will have a separate post. We have already discussed here the Tattooed Vermin, here the Pierced Vermin, here the F-Bomb Vermin and here the Texting Vermin. The fifth of the Hamsters is the Trashy Vermin.
I grew up in a blue collar family in which money was never plentiful. ( I loved the old Jackie Gleason show The Honeymooners. It was a howlingly funny show and they were more broke than we were.) However, my parents always found money in our budget to make sure that all of us had good clothes to wear for Church and special occasions. “Good clothes” meant a suit and tie for Dad, a nice dress for Mom, and sports jackets and ties for myself and my brother. Now I know those of you born after 1980 will find this hard to credit, but we were not uncommon in that regard. At Mass virtually every one was dressed that way. (I still dress that way, and it is uncommon enough that a visiting priest brought how I was dressed to my attention as I entered Church with my family a few years ago.) Evidence of this is clear in the movies from the period. For example, we have the film Blackboard Jungle (1955), which at the time was thought to be a shocking look at juvenile delinquency.
Today, the only thing shocking, and humorous, about the film is how clean cut the “juvenile delinquents” look. I have seen more threatening looking individuals in groups of eagle scouts today. The teachers of course are all arrayed in suits or dresses.
Like most really annoying things in our country, dressing as if your fashion designer scrounges from dumpsters, is a legacy of the Sixties. Leftist students during the Sixties decided to gain proletarian street creds by dressing much worse than most poor people did. The Leftists of that day are beginning to plot how they are going to organize nursing home communes, but the sloppiness of that time which they initiated has become a regular feature of American life.
In regard to the slobbification of America we have several categories to examine:
1. Wrong clothes for the situation: Most men traditionally have the fashion sense of a pig in a mud wallow, but in the past they had the female of the species to make certain that they really didn’t go to work wearing a plaid suit or the same t-shirt for two weeks in a row. Unfortunately, too many women these days also have no fashion sense as demonstrated by the number of women going to work looking either as if they had been dressed by a blind maid or garbed like hookers really affectionate dates:
My profession, Heaven help us, is one of the few institutions attempting to remind people that their ongoing license to dress like slobs terminates when they enter the courtroom.
Here are some handy tips for proper dress in court. A true sign of the times is the last tip:
“Leave pocketknives, guns and any other weapons at home. They are not permitted in the courthouse.”
Men especially seem to have difficulty understanding that the ball caps they appear to have perpetually glued to their scalps must be removed from their heads when they go into a courtroom.
Schools also tend to have dress codes, but they also have a few other problems to deal with:
2. Offenses against aesthetics: Baggy pants on men: Gentlemen, and I say this from the heart, people on the street do not wish to see either your underwear or your backsides:
I was going to say something in this category about the distaff offenses against aesthetics, but my survival instinct has just kicked in, (if any of our female contributors or commenters wish to pick up the slack please feel free) so we will move on to:
3. Torn clothes: My daughter brought this video to my attention. I was aware that people had been wearing torn and faded clothes as some misbegotten fashion choice since the Sixties, but seeing this video on the subject caused me to regret the number of times when I was growing up that my mother chastised me for accidentally ripping new clothes. I was merely making an avant garde fashion statement, and she was attempting to smother my creativity!
4. Deliberately Offensive Clothes: It is impossible to go out in public in America, and not find people with deliberately offensive slogans and images printed across their chests. Do a google search for offensive t-shirts and you will find companies that cater to this market. A prime example is a t-shirt that can be found on any college campus, and sometimes even worn by students rather than aging faculty from the Sixties:
We live in a time when even the simplest portions of life have become twisted. Throughout history people have understood that special occasions required special dress, and, to the best of their ability, they have attempted to dress accordingly. Now, through laziness, indifference, ignorance or defiance, many people in our society treat the entire world as their living room, and they dress in a slovenly manner which helps cheapen and coarsen daily life. We are doomed to live in a shabby age, and our dress, oddly enough, is perhaps appropriate for the times.
However, perhaps I am being too harsh. There are worse things than dressing like a mobile rag pile, complete indifference for example, and that brings us to the Whatever Vermin. However, it is time for me to dress for dinner. What is the appropriate garb for salisbury steak, stewed prunes, boiled turnips and grape juice? Oh well, I will figure it out. Until next time.
Hattip to my daughter, or, as we refer to her, our Fashion Diva, for trapping and shooting the elusive Trashy Vermin, coming and going