Many admirers of classic style and tailoring are often filled with nostalgia when looking at our world. What lies behind the notion that people were better dressed and more elegant in the past? Is there a good reason for standing out from the crowd of casual wear and dressing up?
In society there is a tendency for most people to dress similarly. The trend is to dress without regard to age to the point where a trendy 16 year boy and a trendy 46 year old man might easily wear the same clothes from the same brands. Equally, within women’s fashion, youth is also idealised to such a degree that most magazines feature teenage models on their pages when selling their magazines to an audience of adult women.
This trend of casual clothing and dressing similarly across generations seems to come from the idea that the teenage carefree life is the peak of life. However, in the past there was a higher regard for experience and respect for adulthood.
The fact of being older or wearing a suit doesn’t automatically make someone respectable, someone young and dressed casually might be equally deserving of respect. However, dressing up is a great way to show that you respect yourself, the people around you and the task at hand.
Imagine a teacher who wears a tie every day, even when it is not required, not to demand authority but to show respect for the students. Similarly a CEO can show respect to the employees at a company and the topic of a meeting when dressing up.
Beyond the elegance of a crisp white shirt, it shows effort to dress up, which becomes a symbol of respect to those around you and yourself.
Dressing up can signal that you assume the responsibility of being an adult. We don’t have to idolise teenage youth, we can enjoy the wisdom and respect that comes with experience and assuming responsibility.
Next time you are in a public place, have a look around. How many people are wearing jeans? How many people are wearing sneakers?
It is quite easy to dress elegantly and take control of your life as an adult. Wearing well made tailored trousers and leather shoes will make you better dressed than 90% of the population. Wear clothes that fit and take care of them. Iron your shirt and polish your shoes.
We can feel nostalgic for a lost time of elegance, not just because it looked good, but because it represent a time where a man’s word was his bond, where respect was given to those who resumed their responsibilities and adulthood was distinct from careless teenage years.
The way we dress is a symbol of who we are, but it is still only a symbol. The most important thing is to leave ideals of youth behind and enjoy the respect that comes from the privileges and responsibilities of adulthood.