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Examiner
  • Jeff Fox: Dress for success? Um, no, just look around

  • Reading the newspaper is both a civic duty and daily joy, but that doesn’t mean you won’t run across some unsettling developments.



    At least I know I’m not alone in being baffled by the youngsters. It is their one job.

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  • Reading the newspaper is both a civic duty and daily joy, but that doesn’t mean you won’t run across some unsettling developments.
    At least I know I’m not alone in being baffled by the youngsters. It is their one job.
    No less an authority than the Wall Street Journal reports this week that school principals across the fruited plain – well, the colder parts of the fruited plain – are at a loss to understand why so many boys have adopted a low-maintenance, low-effort, shorts-every-day-everywhere wardrobe.
    No, really, all the time. And “wardrobe” is probably too generous a word.
    Then the Journal offers this summary explanation: “It shouldn’t come as a surprise in a nation where the clothing many people wear in public differs little from what they wear to bed.”
    One assumes those wearing pajamas to the mall at least kick off the flip-flops at bedtime.
    Tucked into the displays at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City is a quote that’s always stuck with me. It’s about how going to a Sunday double-header used to be an event, something for which one dressed nicely, as if, you know, other people might be there. Contrast that with today, when fans are typically dressed like they are getting ready to “go out and rake the leaves.”
    Truer words were never said. Of course, there is no apparel discipline in the stands at all, except among the paint-your-face-and-body crowd, and that’s a whole different level of dysfunction.
    Is there a typically blue cast to the clothing in the stands at a Royals game? Yes, faintly, but enough to suggest you’re in Kansas City. Then you get a mix of Yankee T-shirts (OK, it’s a free country) and A’s caps (folks, they left town 45 years ago, so let that one go). Now add the MU, KU, K-State, Whatever State thing, even though none of those fine institutions have a team on the field or in professional baseball. I tell you, it’s a madhouse.
    It occurs me that there was a time in this country when men wore hats. Not to be hip. Not to be ironic. If you went out in the world where the other humans were, you wore a jacket, in many instances you wore a tie, and you wore a proper hat.
    Was it conformist? Yes. Is that 100 percent bad? No. Conformity for its own sake is a negative force in the universe, one from which we have defiantly liberated ourselves. But there is a cost.
    Did the business world loosen up a little when half of its leaders stopped wearing ties and every day became casual Friday? Sure, but the logical end of all this is dolts in shorts shuffling through the January snow. Dressing nicely is a subtle expression acknowledging the sensibilities of others. Wearing your PJ’s to Wal-Mart screams not just “it’s all about me” but “it’s all about me, and I have a need for you to know that.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Actually, the shorts, PJ’s and flip-flops aren’t quite the logical end of the no-care, no-effort wardrobe. At least there is fabric over most of the important parts of the body. Fortunately, we still have laws on that sort of thing.
    Jeff Fox still wears a tie to work most days. Follow him on Twitter @Jeff_Fox.

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