Today I'm pondering something seemingly unimportant, but I write about it to ask the bigger question - how does our culture slowly change? Most of us can identify each decade in the twentieth century by clothing, music, government, and national or world events. (I'm not sure about this decade and I'm not even sure what we're calling it yet.) Here's a question to my female readers: Did you play "dress-up" as a child? Did you have a box full of cast-offs from older sisters, cousins and your mom? High heels to toddle around the house in? Then as a teenager - what was the most exciting part of dances and proms? The dress, right? (Hopefully it wasn't the paramount focus of your wedding though.)
In my young adulthood I attended many employee Christmas parties, some class reunions, weddings, anniversary parties and my annual union banquet. At all of these events everyone dressed formally - suits and ties, dresses (sometimes long) and your best jewelry. In the last ten years I have watched it all disappear. Company Christmas parties have either been discontinued or relegated to appetizers in someone's family room. My neighborhood Christmas party lessened in its formality until it was in a bar in January and this year ended altogether. Class reunions that used to be dinner-dances are now picnics or golf outings. (My daughter just attended a class reunion. She wore a flirty Betsey Johnson dress and said all the other girls had jeans on. )
I used to buy something special every year for my union banquet, but over the past ten years people have come in increasingly casual outfits. I think it's kind of sad. I'm witnessing a cultural tradition disappear in my lifetime. It's not that pricy clothes are so important - it's feeling that the event is special, that it's something to look forward to, that it's not just another occassion to wear jeans.
When I started teaching I dressed like a, well, a teacher! Skirts and blouses, nice shoes. I remember wearing suits when I would be meeting parents for any reason. Now teachers wear jeans, tennis shoes, sweat suits, shorts, anything goes. Another example is from the times I have attended Broadway plays in New York City. I thought the theater was a place to get all gussied up. But tourists are at the shows in their shorts and tee-shirts after schlepping around the city all day.
I don't think I'll try to rebel against this trend very much. I like to wear something besides jeans on holidays or when I'm entertaining, but I don't care what anyone else wears. I wonder who sent out the memo telling us that we don't dress-up for anything anymore? When did that happen? And if I do dress up am I just going to look like an old person from another era because of it? Kind of like my grandma who wore dresses and nylons to clean house?And most importantly where will little girls get the their dress-up clothes from now?