Sunday, May 19, 2013

America: A Nation of Slobs



I just finished watching CBS Sunday Morning.  They did a delightful segment on Dressing down a culture for refusing to dress up. Apparently Notre Dame Associate Professor of History Linda Przybyszewski (I had to cut and paste that!), (pronounced preh-beh-SHEV-ski) sparked some sort of "controversy" when she wrote a book called:  Nation of Slobs:  How Americans Learned and Forgot How to Dress. And she evens teaches a class called Nation of Slobs:  The Art, Ethics and Economics of Dress in Modern America.
See, not only is she a professor of history, she's also a master dressmaker, collector of vintage patterns and books and expert on the history of fashion.
We used to live in a world where people cared about how they dressed. I am shocked how often I will be out somewhere, whether on a street or in a restaurant, and I see only a handful of people who seem dressed appropriately, and even fewer dressed beautifully,” she says.
I agree and say the same thing almost daily.  Her aesthetic is not one I personally share.  I'm not into vintage; the 1940s and 1950s, just doesn't do it for me. But I do believe in dressing well and appropriate.  I'm constantly striving for "a perfect fit".  It seems to me that we've lapsed into a culture that puts no value in personal appearance.  And will trivialize those of us that do as shallow and vain or "trying to be seen" (the things I've been told).  I've even been questioned by readers here as to why I make the clothing selections I make, since they've deemed me not worthy of "dressing up" since I don't work outside the home.  Even though it's become de rigueur to wear pajamas to drop kids off at school or to make a trip to the grocery store, I'll gladly keep "doing the most" (yes, somebody actually told me that once).

In this article:  The Lost Art of Dressing, Linda Przybyszewski sites reasons on why she feel people stopped dressing up.  Like Baby Boomers moving into the suburbs... the Youth Movement of the 60s... and the 70s, when the Feminist movement caused home economics to be formally dismantled.  It's all very interesting.

But what I truly like about this lady is not only does she talk the talk, but she walks the walk.  In this article, she talks of her love of sewing  She makes almost all of her clothes (she doesn't knit sweates or cobble shoes, though. LOL).  She says:
Dressmakers feel sorry for people who don't sew, she says.  Most people are dependent on ready-to-wear sizing they don't realize their clothing could be made to fit."
I'm not saying everyone needs to run out and commission a dressmaker and have everything custom made.  But an alterations person in their life might be nice if  they can't do it themselves.  And  she also says:
Sewing is not that hard to learn, she adds.  People think its hard to sew, but they'll spend hours miserable in the mall looking for something to wear.
This I agree with.  If you're "size challenged" (tall, short, large, small, disproportion, etc...), I don't understand why not just learn to sew and make your own clothes.  Just my opinion!

139 comments:

  1. I wish I could have seen the show - she expresses my thoughts completely. I think one key word is "appropriate" dress - just doesn't happen much anymore. Sad.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is sad. I read daily status messages on Facebook that say, "Just dropped my kid off in my pajamas, don't judge me!" Girl, I'm judging! LOL

      Delete
    2. Bahahaha! I wish I could like comments because that is exactly what I think too!

      Delete
  2. I watched the segment this morning too and did find it refreshing. I agree with her theory and feel that dressing your best gives you confidence - confidence is a real pick-me-up. You can then focus on the job at hand rather than worrying about how you look all day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Faye, that's the problem -- they are NOT worrying. They think it's okay to dress inappropriately at work. When I was still corporate, I had to check a young lady on her appearance. She didn't understand and questioned how that had anything to do with her work performance. SMH...

      Delete
  3. I actually bought a sewing machine so that I could at least learn how to alter clothes so that they would have a better fit because no matter what your body shape or size, clothes that fit well are flattering (I happen to be a really short pear). I haven't taken a class yet but I'm looking.

    And I do take pride in my appearance because who wants to be known as the raggedy chick?!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Is it possible it's our indifference to others that makes us so slovenly? As I struggle to teach my kids basic table manners and social skills in a world that doesn't seem to put any emphasis on these things, I always repeat something I once heard in a movie---manners are how we show respect to others. I think dressing appropriately is just an extension of good manners and a show of respect. I still think it's important to dress nicely for church (not dress up, but a step up from work clothes or beach attire.) I'm told that it's showing off. How I disagree....it's a sign of respect, to God, to others. We attended a graduation open house yesterday where chinos and polo shirts made us overdressed....but anything less felt dis-respectful to the host who had gone to a lot of trouble to make things nice---yet there was the majority of the guests in tank tops, shorts and flip flops....it's not just me, right?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No Celeste, it's not just you. And the thought of being admonished for "showing off"?! Wow... just ridiculous.

      Delete
  5. I've got a agree. Come on America, it's not that tough!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Melodye, it really isn't.

      Delete
  6. Great article! I didn't see it, but this is actually something others and myself talk about a lot. These days the majority does not take pride in the way they dress, even if they are "just stay-at-home, domesticated divas", lol! That comment made to you....Ooooo!!!!
    I commend you for taking the effort to make yourself look good on a regular basis. Rise above the norm. When it all boils down to it, in my opinion, it's just plain laziness. I might get cut down for that, but oh well.
    Thanks for sharing this article, wish I could have seen the show.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Duh, I just clicked on the link above, lol!

      Delete
    2. Alethia, it is laziness...blamed on being comfortable.

      Delete
  7. Ah, this matter of not bothering to dress appropriately. I see it here at work all the time. People wear really dodgy looking outfits, all in the name of "smart casual". I'm not saying wear a three piece suit to work, just wear something that shows you made an effort. I was slowly descending into the whole dressing down thing, but my mom came here to help me after I had my baby, and frog marched me to the shops. I have never felt so happy going to work, as I do now in my lovely dresses. I'm always overdressed in the office, but who cares? I feel good!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dibs and feeling will most definitely affect your work product!

      Delete
  8. Excellent link to the article and Oh! So! True!!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Whole heartedly agree! When you put together and outfit you can't help feeling good about yourself knowing your are at your best. Especially if you accessorize it can change a basic jean and t-shirt into an outfit. I love looking at old pictures of my mother from the 40's in her outfits complete with gloves and a hat!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Joen, as a child of the 70s, that's the I was dressed for church. I remember those little white gloves!

      Delete
  10. It's interesting that appropriate has now become inappropriate by virtue of what the masses are doing. It's not such a problem where I live/work (Edinburgh), or at least not as I can see. Taking a little pride in one's appearance pays such dividends it's worth doing. Thanks for sharing this article and your thoughts - both were really interesting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for reading Craftytraveller!

      Delete
  11. After almost four years of being a stay-at-home mom, I found my style leaning more heavily on the casual side than I liked. When in the corporate world, I felt my best when I looked my best. A year ago I learned how to sew because I decided I wanted to dress up my casual. I've still got a lot to learn, but I'm already experiencing an extra sense of pride when I'm presenting my Best Self in something I made with my own two hands. Such a feeling of satisfaction!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Interesting! I always think the same thing when people marvel that I have time to sew and knit. Well, I don't spend my afternoons wandering around a mall (not often, anyway). It's a personal choice, but one that anyone who wants to can make.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I couldn't agree more! It was just last year that my city was deemed worst dressed (Vancouver, BC Canada). Most younger women here find it acceptable to roll out of bed, hair un-brushed, in clothing that pretty well SHOULD be pajamas roaming the streets. I really find it sad that people don't put much effort into the way they appear in public. Brushing hair, washing face, putting on clean clothes shouldn't be that difficult!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Some people just like to make it more difficult than it has to be. Neat and clean doesn't mean you have to be at the height of fashion. It just means don't leave home unkempt!

      Delete
  14. Being tall (6'1"), broad shouldered and "busty" (only a C cup, but still), it's only since I learned to sew that I have worn skirts that are the right length and blouses that don't gape at the buttons or are tight under my arms. And I only learned to sew because I was disgusted at the price and quality of clothes in the shops. Being a freakishly ( not in my opinion) shaped woman has led me to being well dressed!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lisa, tell me about it. I'm not as tall as you, but I've shared your plight. Skirts were never long enough. I use to buy cuffed trousers so I could let the hem out. And if jacket sleeve hems could be let out, I'd scrunched them and wear bracelets. Awww... my former bag of tricks!

      Delete
    2. Lisa, while not quite as tall as you are (5'10") I DO understand the frustration of not being able to find clothes that fit, one reason I am getting back into sewing.

      This article... wow.... I have become more unhappy with my wardrobe (lack thereof might be more accurate) but I wasn't sure what was eating at me. This article made me realize just why I have felt uncomfortable even though I fit in fine. I just got a huge incentive to up my game!

      Delete
    3. Angela, good for you. Just add to your wardrobe piece by piece!

      Delete
  15. She hits on some very valuable points. Like youself, I feel that since I have a love for fashion and I've always put effort into my personal appearance....MOST of the times, people feel like you're over the top,etc. I think it's the haters. I've learned at a very early age....most of the time, you get treated based on how you present yourself. Dressed like a thug...you'll get treated like one. Dressed like a street walker and guess what.....yup, get ready to be propositioned. Taking pride in your appearance has nothing to do with vanity in my opinion.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Natasha B, you said that! It makes those "haters" think about how slovenly they look. So instead of stepping their game up, they try to tear you down... like you're just extra.

      Delete
  16. Such a great post and article! Nothing drives me crazier than seeing someone in their PJs at the grocery store, with ratty hair and SLIPPERS!!
    We went to my stepdaughter's high school graduation Friday. I can't tell you how many people were there with overalls on-not to mention other inappropriate outfits... We were in the midwest, but just outside a major city! I was flabbergasted. At least wear your best pair of clean, pressed wranglers if you need to wear denim. Not saying they needed to wear a suit, but jeez. It shows no respect for the students who worked their butts off to graduate.
    **stepping off my soapbox now, lol!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jill, I agree. And you would've been mortified to see what some of those kids probably wore under their gowns.

      Delete
  17. I saw this on TV this morning while I was getting ready for church. I was cheering. For church, I wear a nice skirt and blouse or a dress, dress shoes, matching accessories, brush my hair and use a little makeup. My sons (17 and 20) and my husband all wore suits. What's so hard about that?

    As a family, we never dress as slobs except around the house. I won't even go to the end of the driveway in my nightwear. I've gotten so many questions over the years, "How do you get your sons to dress so nice?" Ummm, they never knew anything different and slobby clothes were never offered as a choice! As a result, I've got two young men who are always appropriately dressed for the situation. (You should hear what my older son says about his fellow college students and what they wear to class.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Marsha, bravo to you and your husband for raising gentlemen.

      Delete
  18. Erica, I couldn't agree with the article and your post more! I work in a not-for-profit setting in an executive position and am astonished by the fact that my co-workers NEVER dress for work. Most times they look downright 'shabby' but I keep my mouth shut. I can tell when most people have an important meeting as that is the only time they seem to make an effort albeit forced. It's sad that they, and many others, think only poorly fitted, cheap mass produced clothing is 'comfortable'. Most dress in styles that are neither work or figure appropriate. I was taught by both of my parents, who both 'dressed' all the time, to dress for the job you want, not the one you have and they were sharp even when 'casually' dressed. So for those of us that love the art of sewing and fashion, keep doing the do! We'll recognize each other when we pass each other on the street! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Pajamas in public--my pet peeve. I've often commented to my daughters 'you think they showered and brushed their teeth?'. My 76 year old mother would call it 'trifling'. While I admit my dressing standards have really changed--standard church wear was a suit, pantyhose, heels with matching purse, hat, and jewelry--now it's a lot simpler (no jeans or sneakers though). I worked for an agency that had a dress code (basically no jeans, athletic wear, see thru, shorts, etc.) Most employees tried to find a way around it. I didn't get it. The CEO explained the public forms a better perception of you and the agency when you are appropriately dressed. I wholeheartedly agree. Going overboard to me is looking like Real Housewives or Hip-Hop/R&B singers. These days wearing a skirt or heels will cause someone to ask 'why are you all dressed up?'. Wake up America--time out for slumming.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OMG Robin! I always think the same thing... they look like the probably smell!

      Delete
    2. they usually do Erica...smh....

      Delete
    3. They didn't take a shower and put on their pjs to leave home! Eeewww!

      Delete
  20. I, too, saw this segment and agreed with everything she said as well as the previous posters. As a newly retired woman I find myself "adjusting" my wardrobe. By adjusting I don't mean "dressing down" but dressing more artsy than corporate. I've been a sewist for 50+ years and I'm letting my creative juices flow now like never before. I'm having so much fun and wish others would join me. I just can't understand women wearing a sloppy unisex tee shirt and feeling good about themselves. I admit that I'm a bit obsessed with fashion but why not put your best foot forward?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I totally agree Sewingkm!

      Delete
  21. This is so true! I've always like to look nice/presentable when out in public. Or even just at home by myself. I enjoy stylish (not fussy/uptight) clothes and clothes that make me feel good/pretty and so I mostly dress for myself. The type of comment I always seem to get is "What's the occasion?" or "Why are you so dressed up?" as if it's so abnormal. And this is when I'm in what I feel are just simple, casual clothes!

    I lived in Europe for a time and people dress over there. You never saw anyone in public in sweats or pajamas (much less slippers!) like you do so commonly over here. If someone were to dress like that over there, they'd be stared at like they had three heads, lol. There is decorum over there, which is sadly lacking in the U.S.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Even though most Americans are too arrogant to care, what must Europeans think of us?!

      Delete
  22. Erica, I'm struggling with getting across to my son the need to dress appropriately. Yesterday was graduation and he tried to skate by without shaving (didn't make it past Mom) and then had to be sent back to the car for his tie before we went into the church for the service before the graduation. Don't stop dressing up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Theresa, you have to stay on them. I give my kids "the look" and the go right back upstairs and change!

      Delete
  23. Wow.. wow.. So can everyone on this thread spread the word? I think it's a matter of personal pride. I think even in your most casual form you should have a certain "pulled together" look about you. My mother is the queen of dressing with pride. She's old school and doesn't understand people who leave the house in pajamas. Her comment is always, "You know they didn't shower and they won't when they get home." She's right.

    As for you being out of the workforce and dressing to the 9s daily. I say good for you. One thing I have always noticed is that my husband has always been proud to have me on his arm. It's not that I am the prettiest woman in the room, but you can't out class me. I can't wait until my kids are a little bit older so that I can put even more time into my look. I think it makes for a happy marriage if you both don't let yourselves go. I know your husband has to be happy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tearsa, I agree! Even if I'm home looking crazy, I'll spruce myself up before he gets home. No man wants to come home to an unshowered, haggard looking women at the end of the day.

      Delete
  24. Agree with all here about sewing own clothes. I love to sew my own outfits and make mostly elastic-waist pants, but in good fabrics. I always get compliments. (I work at home so don't need tailored stuff.)

    But what about shoes??? My big feet don't fit in much and I'm so tired of flip-flop style sandals and rubber-soled ugly clod busters (can't wear high heels anymore, sigh). Ferragamos (my fave 20 yrs ago) are over $400, too much for me.

    Is anyone sewing/making own shoes?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sarah, if only I could cobble my own shoes!

      Delete
    2. Hi Sarah, you should check out a site called Barefoot Tess. They specialize in fashion forward styles in large sizes! I wear size 11 and they have saved my shoe life!!!

      Delete
  25. Great post. I am constantly appalled at what people are wearing out & about and to make matters worse, its occurring in the work place. Although the office attire has become business casual, folks have totally misconstrued business casual. Can I say its sad when the office manager has to constantly remind coworker(s) that their garment or foot wear is inappropriate.

    They even hired a business image consultant to come in and talk to the employees... had to smh.

    I was taught by my parents and learned in a HS co-op work program... to dress with pride and I took it seriously in that for years all I wore were suits 5 days a week. Now I mix it up a little with business casual wear, but still rock suits 2 to 3 days a week.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sheila, the work place is out of control.

      Delete
    2. Out of control. I was appalled when an atty gallivanted around the office in a sheer blouse w/ a white demi bra underneath & a skirt that clearly should have had a slip beneath.... clutched my pearls and mumbled expletives.

      Delete
    3. Damn shame. As a so-called professional, you know she knows better.

      Delete
  26. I just graduated from college last week... and let me tell you, colleges are the land of pajama-wearing individuals. People would ask me all the time why I'm "so dressed up" when I was wearing a basic skirt and flats. I'm all for people doing whatever makes them happy and for me, that's dressing nicely. Not to mention that professors--many of whom are from an older generation than my own--are not going to take a student seriously if they're in their pajamas every day or have "one tequila, two tequila, three tequila, hit the floor" written across their chests. I've had my sewing machine whirling for the past few months, excited that my dress code will be business casual in the next phase of my life!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Congratulations Janna! And good for you!

      Delete
  27. Thank you for this post. This is something I struggle with, being a stay at home parent - I want to look nice, yet I feel out of place. I have long admired you for how you dress, not that we have the same style but you always look put together and have fun with your clothes. I never saw my grandmother in pants - always a dress. And my mom talks about how even my grandfather enjoyed dressing up because he worked as a mechanic and spent so much time in "grubby clothes," so when he was not working he really dressed up. At any rate, I'm trying to be more confident and wear what makes me happy...even if it makes me different!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Adrienne, embrace "different"!

      Delete
  28. I think that fast, throwaway fashion has played a large role in the demise of dress in our society. Why get something tailored to fit when it cost under $20 to begin with? I am 23, and so many people my age do not have an understanding of what quality clothing is. Cheap, ill fitting clothing that wears out after a few washes is going to look sloppy. Not to mention so many in my age group haven't any idea how to use an iron. When I lived in a college dorm, with 5 other girls, I was the only one to bring an iron!

    I do personally like vintage and the quality of vintage garments I've picked up at the thrift store for a few dollars far exceeds the quality of most of the items found in malls today. The vintage coats I own are so well made that I'd have to spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars just to buy anything comparable today.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rebecca, that is hilarious regarding the iron!

      Delete
  29. Terrific post. I have to tell you, I went to church with a friend a few years ago. I wore a fairly simple knit dress. She told me I didn't need to get dressed up. When we got to the church I saw why. Jeans, football jerseys, tee shirt, sneakers and shorts abound. I was flabbergasted.

    I started a new job and one of the admin told me we dress casual on Friday. I told her I don't do casual at work. Ever.

    She speaks the truth. Simplicity in design is cheaper to produce.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love that you never do casual at work!

      Delete
  30. I left fashion-fun London for the San Francisco burbs and I can't tell you how different people dress here. Tech towns are known for their casual dressing and it's a bit too much for me. I love having fun with my wardrobe, wearing bold colors and flirty skirts. And man, the stares I get. And all I can think is why are people out and about shopping in yoga pants and hoodies?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Awww... hoodies. Those along with shorts and flip flops seem to be the staple -- all year here.

      Delete
  31. America has turned into a nation of lazy people, eating in their cars and wearing crusty old flip flops everywhere. Its such a shame!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It most definitely is a shame.

      Delete
  32. Every time we go out for dinner at a nice restaurant I am surprised at how many people are poorly dressed. On Mother's day we went to a lovely restaurant. One young woman was dressed beautifully, but her husband was a total slob. He was wearing one of those advertising t shirts (my pet peeve), hanging out of course over over sized gray cotton pants that were dragging at the hem and shredded. Yuk.
    I really don't understand why people don't even get dressed up for a nice night out.
    My dd works for a company that has a dress code and she likes it. She enjoys dressing nicely and she likes looking professional. She goes looking for clothing and sees so much that is just not appropriate; too short, too sheer too casual.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It wouldn't be my husband. That's just disgusting. Good for your daughter!

      Delete
  33. I live in Australia where a lot of people dress casually (there is a big surfing and sport culture here). However, I think there is a big difference between appropriate casual dressing (items that *fit* and aren't ripped or dirty) and non-appropriate dress (pyjamas and ugh boots). My sewing focus has become targeted towards looking "well turned out" even if am wearing jeans and a t-shirt. As someone 6ft tall, with broad shoulders and E-cups you can imagine how ready to wear anything looks on me! Good fit is my new king, whether this is corporate wear or casual wear (I need both). It's about having the respect to look like you cared - not for other people, but for yourself! I call it "the frenchification" as it seemed like Parisian women had this down pat, but really it's self-respect :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Frenchification"... I like that!

      Delete
  34. I to live in Australia and find there is a difference between casual and lazy. Presentation is important to me but it seems lately that the "traditional look" for my age - over 60 is three quarter pants, striped T shirt with the stripes doing the rounds of the body and a vest whether it be quilted or polar fleece and it is a look I dislike. The designers think it is not necessary to think about anything sensational for the "forgotten woman" and this is completely the reverse of myself and a few others. I often wonder if this is why people are lazy with their clothing because that is what they are presented with. Fortunately for me I sew but there are many who don't, live on a
    pension and cannot afford the price of clothes and shop for what I call "casual lazy" i.e. dressing to a price. No one can ever accuse you of lazy dressing Erica you always look sensational.
    Lesley

    ReplyDelete
  35. I can confirm the casual culture in Australia too. Three quarter pants are worn by women of all ages, all the time. It is a bit of a uniform. On the other end of the scale, when Australian women dress up (usually to attend weddings) they veer towards what I call tizzy.It's kind of hard to define, but occurs when there is a lot of extraneous decoration on an piece of clothing. Elegant restraint doesn't happen too often! And poor fit is rampant.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I see that capri pants seem to be the trend down under.

      Delete
  36. I saw this also and I really enjoyed it. I have to agree with the comments you made and some of what Mrs. Przybyszewski said also.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was a great segment. Thanks for commenting!

      Delete
  37. Just chiming in to say I agree with your post and the comments. I so wish for appropriate dressing. And like another commenter, as a SAHM it can be tricky to dress how I want and not be off-putting to those around me. Dressing nicely brings on so many judgments by others.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. CrystalPleats, they're only projecting their negativity because they feel bad and insecure regarding their own appearance. Wear what you like and don't let someone else's issue become yours.

      Delete
  38. Well said Erica!!! It is shameful when people attempt to make those of us that dress nicely, and neatly to feel out of place. I love to dress too!!! You always look fabulous!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just SMH... I'm not making their issue(s) about me. Thanks bpatricia74!

      Delete
  39. Erica, what a beautiful and awesome post! (No wonder you are my favorite blogger!) I often get on this soap box myself. Too often, I am asked by people why I am so "dressed up" to run errands or pick up the kids, when all I am really wearing is a casual cotton dress or s lacks and a blouse, always with makeup, accessories and my hair done. I learned to sew at the tender age of 9 years old because I had a definite opinion about fashion and wanted to make my own clothes, plus I am 6 feet tall and wanted a better fit! I, too, am a domestic engineer and refuse to give in to the yoga/pajama pant trend! I keep hoping something will change the mind of American women to return to the days of better self-respect and dressing to enhance their natural beauty. Thank you so much for posting this. Do you know where to get a copy of Przybyszewski's book? I would be really interested in reading it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Awwww...thanks Rebecca. I didn't really dig,but I did check Amazon and couldn't find her book.

      Delete
  40. I watched this on Sunday Morning also and I thought about you! I so agreed with a lot of what she said. People have become sloppy with thier appearance. I work in an office with a bunch of other Engineers so I'm used to the guys thinking that I dress up everyday. I wear a dress 95% of the time, and when it's chilly..a dress, panty hose, and a slip. LOL
    I'm in make-up, and jewelry everyday! Folks think I'm over dressed, I think I'm appropriately dressed. I understand dressing for comfort but if that's what this new school of dressing is, I'll just continue to be old school.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You just keep right on being fabulous. I'd rather be overdressed than underdressed any day!

      Delete
  41. Erica i applaud you for being a stay at home mom and you be rocking clothes like THIS!!! I was sure you worked a 9 to 5 in an office. I'm a new sewer just over a year and half and i totally agree. Sewing is not hard compared to walking the mall and stores searching for decent made clothes from anything other than stretch knits and charging WAY too much money!
    Keep up the great work. You inspire me to be an awesome seamstress one day. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No ma'am, I've been on sabbatical for the last 8 years! Thanks frenaew!

      Delete
    2. SERIOUSLY!?!? Erica, I truly thought you must work in an office somewhere.. your pictures show you so nicely dressed!

      Wow..I join frenaew in applauding you and setting the bar high for the rest of us stay-at-home moms. I am again inspired by you with a whole new level of being impressed.

      Delete
  42. My mother was always well-turned-out, and never left the house without at least powder, mascara, and lipstick. Her look was modeled after Kim Novak in the film Vertigo. I only saw her with her hair not done three times in my life--twice before major surgery, the third on her deathbed. (I knew it was the end--the hairdresser hadn't been called.)

    She was very insistent about being well-dressed, as consideration for others. People had to look at us, and they didn't want to see slobs.

    I'm glad I live in Manhattan, as dressing is a spectator sport, especially in the fall. If I appear in a particularly good outfit, someone will comment. So I have a minimum standard that I need to hit before walking out the door.

    There was a comment by one of your younger readers, that said that they don't know about good clothing, what with disposable fashion. That's a valid point. It is easier to dress well if you have access to, or can make good clothing, but one can dress well with whatever resources one has. It takes some imagination and care.

    But I blame some of this bad dressing on the "me" generation", whatever that is. I hear people say they just want to be comfortable, but I respond that one can be comfortable and look good--they are not mutually exclusive. But one has to at least try.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kenneth, your mother was absolutely fabulous! Obviously where you get it from. Manhattan is definitely my kind of city. I live for the Street Style. This says everything: "...one can be comfortable and look good--they are not mutually exclusive." Thanks for commenting!

      Delete
  43. I think someone saying over-dressed is subjective and depends where you are. I think it would be over-dressed if someone were to wear a gown to a baseball game. I want to be comfortable but that doesn't mean I have to look like a slob. I always had a rule of dressing to the event I'm attending. I work at a radio station, so it's a little out place to dress in a suit everyday. However, if I am attending a conference, then being in causal business is the way to go. How we dressed as changed over the years, but it doesn't mean you are suppose to come to work or anywhere in public with pj bottoms. I think women should get their clothes tailored whether they sew themselves or have someone do it. Women seem to have a problem with buying someone from the rack in perhaps a larger size and having it tailored because of the psychological rationale of going out with they think is their dress size despite that manufacturing contrived the standard size.

    Michael Pollen has used the feminist argument about people not cooking at home, but one would have to factor in time. There are a lot of folks out there work more than one job and clocking more than 10 hours a day working. In addition, some people simply aren't interested in cooking, knitting, or sewing for various reasons. People have time to do what they are passionate about doing.

    I think dressing well means that you feel good about yourself and you want to convey that to others as well. Dressing has an emotional component from what I've seen on the show What Not to Wear. I don't know if it's always about laziness than how people are feeling about themselves. I think it's simple, but complex.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree that there are emotional and psychological components at work. Sure, everyone falls into their own funk and rut from time to time and you need to work it out. And as the old adage goes: misery loves company. Hence the reason those "slobs" try to tear others down in their times of feeling in adequate.

      Delete
  44. Thank you for the links to these articles. the line you quoted, "...and I see only a handful of people who seem dressed appropriately, and even fewer dressed beautifully,” really resonates. It's so true. I'm eager to go read more.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought it was interesting. I hope you enjoy it!

      Delete
  45. LOVED this segment on CBS Sunday Morning! I had the good fortune to have parents who were significantly older than those of my peers, and therefore, had much better perspective on what was proper. No short skirts, tight outfits, revealing tops, or anything questionable. I always heard "just because you can pull it on, doesn't mean you can pull it off!" I'm 6' tall and have never been considered small or even small-adjacent. Even though my size precludes me from some stores, I continue to be exceedingly picky about what I wear because it's an outward sign of who I am. I am not a slovenly person, so why would I dress like a hobo? It takes the same amount of time to put on a t shirt and yoga pants as it does to put on a cute top and denim trousers. My mantra: if my mother saw me in this outfit, would I get an earful? Hasn't led me astray yet! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "just because you can pull it on, doesn't mean you can pull it off!"

      I'll be using this!

      And I'm always saying something like this: "It takes the same amount of time to put on a t shirt and yoga pants as it does to put on a cute top and denim trousers."

      Delete
    2. I remember reading an interview with Christie Brinkley YEARS ago (and apparently forgot about until now) saying how it didn't take her any more time to pull on a cute pair of pants and blouse as a pair of old jeans and T-shirt, so looking good really wasn't taking up all of her time.

      And I really like that saying "just because you can pull it on, doesn't mean you can pull it off!"

      Delete
  46. I agree! What kills me though, is that it is simply NOT that difficult to buy a few great key pieces - a chic jacket, nice/comfy flats and/or boots, and a few accessories - that go with everything and transform basics like jeans and knit tops into an outfit. OR, what could be easier than pulling on a knit dress in the morning? Honestly, I am the queen of low maintenance in the morning, but I still manage to leave home every day in an outfit that looks pulled together. It is just not that hard if you put a little bit of effort into it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's exactly what I'm saying!

      Delete
  47. Oh my goodness Erica! I loved this post! You know it speaks to me on so many levels. Thank you for sharing with us.
    -Tanasha

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for commenting Tanasha!

      Delete
  48. Thanks for bringing this to light. This country (in general) has (as they say) 'gone to hell in a handbasket'--and I'm not using this a curse word. It's a shame. People on the job look like slobs and rag dolls. I've seen MANY corporate managers regret that casual Friday was ever even concocted. It's off the chain and way outta control.

    People wear flip flops, tank tops, you can see their "tats." It's disgusting.

    My sister is in a management position and tells countless stories of how people sabotage themselves in interviews: cowboy boots (and her manager is ex-military so you know they ain't having it!). I remember Brian Tracy saying many years ago that people (he was referring to the workplace) that dress casual have a "casual" attitude.

    It's so true! They get slack, don't work, desk hop from co-worker to co-worker. It's a hot mess! Let me stop. Thanks Erica. Nice post as always. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel you and completely agree!

      Delete
  49. I'm torn by this article... I personally love dressing up, but sometimes I feel frivolous for it. If I pooled together all of the time I spend each year on my appearance, could I do something more worthwhile with that time? Charity? Curing cancer? But on the other hand, I do feel like there are tangible benefits to dressing well. It makes me feel more confident and productive at work, and some artistic drive in me feels satiated by putting a nice outfit together.

    I also have a chronic illness that flares up at times, and on those days I could care less how I look. Anyone giving me side eye at the grocery store for wearing sweatpants can go suck on an egg. I guess what I'm getting at is that I dress well to make myself feel good, but I don't really care if others do the same. (Okay, unless it is in a professional setting where some tone should be conveyed to customers.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To some degree, of course you care. You've proven that simply by voicing your opinion on this post. Thanks for your two cents!

      Delete
  50. OMGGGGG Erica I feel the same way...I get the "Where you going all dressed up?"...and I look so confused because I just have on something presentable; but I guess I would look dressed up if I wore tired, worn out t-shirts and boxers every day...smh...thank you for sharing this and let me know if its okay if I share it on my page on another social network...other people should read this...thank you for sharing and you always look like a knock-out! ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Please... feel free to share! Thanks!

      Delete
  51. I couldn't agree with you more. I have lived abroad for 4.5 years (1.5 in Paris and 3 in India). In both places (moreso in India believe it or not), MUCH more effort and thought is put into clothing and dressing well. I liken it to presenting yourself to the world. By dressing well you are telling the world that you deserve respect. By wearing pajamas and slippers...well that's just sad.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It says a lot! You look like a slob, you'll get treated like one.

      Delete
  52. Erica, thank you for writing this post. It is something that I have felt for a long time. I would agree that we have lost our sense of style and dress. Our work envirnoment is business casual. I am alway amazed that every 6 months or so, my company has to send a reminder email defining once again what is considered business casual. My coworkers often ask me why do I dress up for work. My thought is always seriously, we need to have this conversation. I use to endure comments from friends about how I always dress up to go shopping, grocery store,etc. I would often think what is dressy about a nice pair of jeans,a blouse, cute pair of shoes and little makeup? At times the comments would make me feel like I was doing something that was not acceptable amongst the masses. But I soon realize that this is Renee. I enjoy looking nice and I really don't have to explain it to anyone. So now when I get those comments, I just say in a gentle way...."how about you do you and I will do me and lets respect each other choice?" Thanks again for a great post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for commenting Renee!

      Delete
  53. So commenting from my phone didn't work LOL

    but I agree 100%! The younger admins in my office always ask me why I'm "dressed up" what's sad is that slacks/skirt, top & cardigan is casual for me and appropriate for a casual work environment. I'm that in between size so that is why I began learning to sew. Why not make it myself since almost everything I buy off the shelf needs to be altered! plus I ooh and ahh over all the great things I see you & other bloggers and think I wonder if I can

    ReplyDelete
  54. I don't care so very much about appropriateness (probably because I work from home), but it does make me sad that everyone wears the same uniform of jeans and T-shirts. There's so much room for beauty and color and enjoyment in clothing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's no such thing as appropriateness at home. Wear what you like in the comfort of your own home. And anyone showing up unannounced, oh well... should've called first. Jeans and t-shirts depress me. I could never live in that. I'm glad I sew and will always have options!

      Delete
  55. Amen Erica! Talking about clothing is almost as bad as talking about religion, etc. to some people (it should NEVER be that serious). I can't understand why it's ok for certain people to dress "simple" but if I want to be fancy it's "too much" on a Tuesday. I learned to sew because my plus size but curvy figure is NOT the norm for fat girls and I like to show it OFF. Impossible to do half the time with ready-to-wear so I had to learn to create or at the very least make my own adjustments. I aspire to be fashionable whether I work inside or outside my home (hence me adoring your entire vibe). You keep doing you! It's an inspiration and much appreciated!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And you keeping doing you too!

      Delete
  56. I was shocked when I took a job in my current school district, and on the first day of school hardly a soul dressed up. They were wearing the same sloppy clothes they wore when fixing up their classrooms days before the kids showed up. Since then, I have done my best to be a well-dressed teacher--even if it is on a small salary!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just cant take a teacher seriously if they don't look professional and authoritative. I'm sure the students fell the same way.

      Delete
  57. LOVE this! It is so true. It's even worse when you see someone at a funeral (or wedding) wearing jeans and a t-shirt. I think it shows not only respect for yourself, but respect for others when you are appropriately dressed. Don't be concerned about the haters. Just keep doing what you do!

    ReplyDelete
  58. Fabulous post and I agree with you totally. I, too, have seen teachers dressed with total disrespect, IMO. from ninety nine cent flip flops to stringy cut off jeans. The first time I saw this when we moved to this area I nearly fell off my seat. It sets such a horrible example to the children and shows such disrespect, IMO. Is the problem that the majority don't see this is a respect issue? for oneself or others?

    I also think, if you look at contemporary movies, everyone is dressed like slobs. At one time you'd love to wear and have that look of Liz Taylor, Grace Kelly, or Kim Novak. Talk about glamour!

    I'm a dresser. When I get in new situations where the "show off" type of comment is fomenting I tell whoever casually that I just love clothes, love to design and sew and "dress". Guess what happens? The bar jumps a bit higher and you start seeing a bit more awareness by others in the workplace. It's a good thing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Rear Window" is one of my favorite classic movies. Grace Kelly was just everything!

      Delete
  59. Like so many of you, I am frequently asked "Why are you so dressed up?" Thing is, I'm really not. To pick up the kids, or do the grocery shopping, or work from home, I'm usually wearing nothing fancier than a casual skirt and top, with some casual non-plastic shoes. Anything beyond cut-off shorts and a baggy t-shirt is considered "dressed up." But of course, it's not.

    I usually just smile and say nothing. Sometimes I'll say, "Actually, I'm not dressed up. This is called 'appropriate.'"

    I think what offends me, and I suspect many of you as well, is the disdain in these "you're so dressed up" statements. It seems people resent seeing others properly dressed. Perhaps they don't like to be reminded that no, the cut-off shorts, exposed bra straps and flip-flops they're sporting are not, in fact, appropriate, anywhere but their own living room.

    Appropriate doesn't mean "in fashion" or dictate any particular style of dressing. It means "suited to the time and place. Right for your age and shape and role in the world. A good match for the occasion." You don't wear a suit and heels to a ball game. You don't wear jeans and a t-shirt to court. As a middle-aged mom, I don't walk around with my goodies on display -- no matter how fit I happen to be. As I wrote in my recent "Skirting the Issue" blog post -- just because you can doesn't mean you should.

    You can certainly be casual, while at the same time being pulled together and clean. I wear yoga pants and a fitted t-shirt as often as I wear my vintage frocks. But not to the theater, or a business meeting, or even to travel. There's a time and place for everything.

    Unless you're at the beach or the pool, it's not the time or place for flip-flops (adding rhinestones to plastic doesn't make them "real shoes"). Soccer shin guards and cleats are NOT appropriate at church, and yet, there they are, on more than one kid, every Sunday.

    As one earlier poster said, it's about respect -- not only for yourself, but for others. You don't show up to someone's wedding in sweats, or their funeral in a pastel mini skirt. Why not? Out of respect. And you shouldn't walk around in public in the same thing you'd wear to watch TV in your own den, for the same reason.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've learned it's their issue, not mine. LOL

      Delete
  60. Well, I must admit that I am sometimes that person who will wear yoga pants like they are a part of an outfit, lol. But my reason is I don't have the time, money, or energy after being in school and dealing with three kids under the age of 7. Also I find that some things are just not as comfortable as yoga pants. I do want to look presentable, like I did before I had kids, anyone have any tips? I have started to sew so if anyone knows of any easy patterns, that woul be great as well.

    Elle

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Summertime is approaching. Knit dresses and maxis with cut flat sandals (Target has $15 cuties) is a failsafe look. There are a plethora of simple knit dress patterns.

      Delete
    2. First of all, don't beat yourself up. I also think that wearing clean, neat, and well fitting "play clothes" are fine, and that there are too many articles telling the stay-at-home mom to "not let herself go", or "to look more fashionable".

      I'm all for dressing nicely when it's appropriate. Look a little nicer at the PTA meeting or teacher apprectiation luncheon. Don't beat yourself up, however, if you are wearing jeans/thirt/sneakers to school pickup or soccer practice.

      For most days, everthing I wear needs to pass the "can I run in it or walk in wet grass in it if I need to?" or the "can I sit criss cross applesauce in it?" test.

      Knit dresses are great for date nights, lunches, dinners out, etc.

      That being said, if you want to step up your game, and are just learning to sew, you absolutely want your first project to be a skirt!

      Look for online tutorial on how to sew a simple skirt. If you do a skirt with an elastic waist, even a beginner can whip one out in an afternoon.

      The next thing you want to learn is how to do your own hems/simple alterations. There are some great tutorials and you tube videos out there on those subjects, too.

      If you have a daughter as one of your "kids under 7", you can get some great practice learning to sew her some simple dresses. The internet is filled with free tutorials for little girls dresses. They are easy/short projects and allow you to practice techniques on a smaller scale (and without wasting too much fabric if you make mistakes).

      If you want to try a pattern, most brands have patterns labeld as "easy to sew" or list a difficulty so you can pick the beginner patterns.

      Start with cotton woven fabrics. They are the easiest to work with. Sewing jersey or knit fabrics will make you want to rip your hair out, so save those for when you get more experience.

      Hope this helps! Good luck and have fun!

      Delete
  61. Hi, Erica.

    I love your blog and I read it all the time. I never comment, though, because I can't even sew a button on a shirt. I just admire your work and covet your amazing skills. Lol. But today, I felt compelled to respond, because this post spoke to my spirit. I will be 31 in a couple weeks and have been spending more time and energy than ever before on how I look when I leave home. You are one source of inspiration for that. You always look so pulled together. I've never had a problem dressing well, but I want that polished, grown-ass woman look that you pull off so flawlessly. I don't look my age, and I don't always act it, either. But I do wanna dress in a way that makes people take me seriously and respect my hustle. Reading this post inspired me to go in my closet and rediscover the potential in my clothes... and get rid of things that had no potential. I admire the way you always look so polished... and I am taking your advice and paying more attention to looking polished as well. Thank you for this!

    ReplyDelete
  62. Well said Erica! The same is sadly true here in the UK. I learned to 'up my game' when I visited Paris for the first time and felt like a country carthorse, and again on meeting my new, chic French sister-in-law! She always looks so elegantly dressed, even in jeans and a shirt, even when getting the kids from school and she's a work-at-home mom. It's been fascinating studying how she does it. I'm slowly building (sewing) a 12-item capsule wardrobe and having fun buying accessories. I always read your blog and get loads of ideas.

    ReplyDelete
  63. I am sure that a significant part of the appeal of the shows like 'Mad Men' and 'Downton Abbey' is the delight in seeing people dressed as they used to, with care. I'm interested to see the Gatsby influence on style, too.

    ReplyDelete
  64. Thanks for sharing this article. I am guilty of not always feeling like putting much effort into looking my best - especially recently I went through a period of feeling really sick with morning sickness. But then I would tell myself, I don't want to look as bad as I feel. What do you do to look good when you have a small baby? I feel like they are always getting food/drool/spit up on me.

    ReplyDelete
  65. I totally agree with everything in this article. I remembering growing up in the '60s, my mother and her friends dressed up to take out the garbage. They never went out w/o hair done, makeup and well dressed. I am trying to get out of the habit of wearing pants all the time, there was a time in my life that I didn't even own a pair of pants. I remember when people dressed up to go to church, weddings and funerals. Now you see people in jeans every where.

    ReplyDelete
  66. My West Indian mother always told me that it was better to be overdressed than underdressed, and it stuck. Even before I started sewing, I wore dresses most of the time because they are easy, one-piece dressing that (if the fit and fabric are right) are as comfortable as pajamas. And bonus: I never look slovenly.

    I also love hats, especially in the summertime (I wear eyeglasses, so shades can be a challenge) and am enamored of the matching belt, bag and shoes style my great-gran was so fond of -- but no one wears now. But people have really grown uncomfortable with this notion of making an effort or looking like you tried. Like it somehow makes you inauthentic. (Funny, because dressed like this is when I feel the most authentically me.)

    Most people just offer a bemused, "Why are you so dressed up?" but I once had a stranger walk by me once (I was in a red on white polka-dot dress, red pumps and a red-and-white striped sunhat) and ask me, apropos of nothing else, "Who the hell do you think you are?" No kidding.

    ReplyDelete
  67. This has been a popular one!!! I agree with most every commenter, so I'll just get right to the point. I feel like, one must be taught to dress. Once appropriate dressing is learned then that is when then one's style, taste and talent in dressing is cultivated. I feel this way because I have first hand, first person experience with this with my husband. When I was younger my mother/grandmother would pick what we could wear until they felt we were old enough to do it ourselves. And even then they intervened when they thought we were making poor choices. I think many never had that and they probably didn't have examples of proper dressing to emulate either. I still remember watching the older women in my family get dressed, building the look from undergarments to accessories. I'm glad I had that, its something beautiful a little girl can aspire to. What is aspirational about spongebob pajamas and sweatpants? That's sad.

    ReplyDelete