The Worst Things Since Sliced Bread II
Mr. Navrozov suggested we make this an ongoing feature, and I am happy to keep it going for so long as people are interested. In the first installment, we talked a great deal--as the title would suggest--about food and food technology. There is an unlimited number of topics, ranging from gardening to travel to the virtualization of reality. This week I propose clothing.
Back in the 1950s my father rarely left the house, unless it was a hunting or fishing trip, without at least a jacket and tie. He had a beautiful heavy tweed suit made for him by a tailor named Buck Shea, whose motto, sewn into clothing, was "Buck Shea Suits Me, Chippewa Falls, Wis." He had a tweed cap and very heavy overcoat to match. In high school, I did not think much about clothing and wore most most young men wore: khaki trousers, blue, white or madras button down shirt, Bass Weejun loafers. I only had one suit and a few ties. At seventeen, going to college, I realized I was out of step and immediately purchased a beautiful blazer and then a tweed jacket, better shirts--Gant, Wren, Enro--and ties. The convention for all but teh creeps we referred to as "fleas"--because the infested the sofas of our lounge--dressed according to a code. Most school days we wore either a jacket and button down shirt with no tie or a tie with a v-neck sweater. Karl Kasual, as they used to say, but going out on a date meant jacket AND tie. Girls noticed, girls cared, and, by the way, Southern girls of the early 1960s were well-groomed and, frankly, adorable.
We all know what happened, and I can document the deteriorization by listing the some of the changes in order: permanent press shirts, at $1-2 more, that never looked crisp, reintroduced all-cotton shirts at $1 increase over permanent press, ridiculously wide ties and stove pipe legs on trousers, double-knit polyester, leisure suits, and then the universal uniform of the proletariat: jeans, sweatshirt of tee-shirt, the running shoes my first Greek professor referred to contemptuously as tennie-pumps.
The other day a friend of ours who dresses better than 95% of Rockfordian males, after complaining about the way men dressed for Mass, asked if there wasn't something in between jacket and tie--which counts, by the way, as informal sports clothes--and the prole uniform. I first responded by mentioning business casual, which is how he generally dresses for a lunch out, before going on to wonder aloud how much extra work is it to put on a tie. Five minutes maybe. Although the males I meet and complain about the way I dress say it is too much trouble to dress decently, the truth is it is not the time or effort, it is that they are afraid to be out of step with the regime.
The poet and essayist Fred Turner, who grew up as the son of a famous communist anthropologist, used to ridicule the avant-garde and tell them, "Do you want to do something really daring and outrageous? Write metered verse, maybe even with rhyme! So I now ask self-described conservatives: Want to strike a blow against the regime? Put on a jacket and tie!