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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Sometimes You Need to Put on Big Boy Pants

I am a fairly casual person.  Much to my officemate's dismay, I am fine wearing shorts and flip flops to the office when I am not meeting with clients.  Sometimes, depending on the client, I will still wear them (it has to be someone that REALLY knows me-- or has seen me in a swimsuit- not a pretty sight).  Las Vegas is a fairly casual city, typical to the southwest or west coast.  Plus, it's really, really hot out here.  

HOWEVER, there are times when I think people really need to put on their big boy pants and dress up.

I was astounded by the parental outcry about school uniforms.  This was the proposed uniform for my children's school- jeans or khaki's, including shorts or skirts with a red, white or blue polo shirt.  CRAZY!!  The arguments had me dumbfounded-- school should be fun, it shouldn't feel like work.  Huh?  Yes, I am for fun in education, but it sorta IS your kids' job.  One mom, in torn jeans, white t-shirt said "So if I walked into your office dressed like this, you wouldn't hire me?'  to which I responded, aghast "No.  I would not."  Now I have no issue that she was dressed like that for a PTA meeting- I happen to usually dress up because they are during the day and on a day that I meet with clients (THAT is another gripe of mine-- here's a thought, you want parental involvement, how about not scheduling meetings during the work day??? ).  ANYHOW.... one mother, the only other one who didn't think that this oppressive uniform was the end of creative thought and rampant socialism... commented that you should dress a certain way for certain events.  That got eye rolls from the people who suddenly felt compelled to show up at these meetings (as opposed to the 6-8 of us who always show up-  I guess issues like your kids' clothes are much more important than issues like low test scores..).

When I interviewed people (which I was doing while the whole school uniform issue was being discussed and probably influenced my opinion that it was not a bad idea to teach kids how to dress), I was genuinely surprised at how some people really didn't know how to dress professionally.  You have one shot to make a first impression.  Wrinkles, jeans and sneakers to work at a financial services firm?  That shows me that you are unfamiliar with the industry and what we do.  I appreciate that you may not have a lot of money, but you can get a nice dress for under $30 or khakis and a shirt and tie for under $50.  I buy clothes.  I know.  It doesn't have to been designer stuff.  It does have to be professional.

Last night, we went to The Smith Center to see "The Million Dollar Quartet."  The first few times we've been to shows there, people seemed to know how to dress.  But lately, it's gotten more and more casual.  Shorts.  T-shirts.  I think we saw sweat pants.


It's Friday night.  It's a touring Broadway show.  Not a matinee at your child's pre-school.


I make my kids dress up.  Because sometimes in life, it's good to get dressed up. 

My husband and I argued about it before the first show.  I told him I wanted them to learn how to do it.  We lead very casual lives.  This is a good opportunity to teach them how to behave at cultural events, how to dress, how to eat in a nice restaurant-- how to have a little class.  After he saw how much fun they had with it, he got it and was on board.
But what I really noticed is the higher up you went- we are in the gallery- the sloppier people dressed.  The people on the floor were decked out.  As if they were going to a Broadway show.  In the evening.  They had class.

My daughter's dress was $15 at JC Penney's.  My son had on black pants ($12), a white shirt ($10) and a tie ($5) from JC Penney's.  I had on a dress from Kohl's ($45).  No clue what my husband's outfit cost, but it's what he wears to work- a shirt, a tie and dark blue pants.  Oh, and we've worn these outfits many, many times.  We didn't buy them special for this event.

It's not like it's expensive to look decent.  I'm sure some of the jeans people had on were much more expensive than my dress.  You don't need a $1200 gown.

But it's the point-- when did we become such a casual society?  Wait- not casual- but sloppy?  Nice khakis and a polo would have been appropriate (it was 102-- I don't expect anyone to wear a suit out here).

And again, this is coming from ME-- the person who shops in sweats and hates to wear make up.

There are times when you should dress up.  It's not a punishment.  It's kinda fun.

My kids got 20+ compliments from people as we walked in-- "So nice to see young people who know how to dress!"  "What lovely children!"  "How handsome!"  "What a beautiful dress!"  It was that shocking.

Honestly, my kids behave better when they are dressed nice.  Call me crazy...

My son even noticed "Wow- people didn't get dressed up tonight-- I wonder why?"  It was a fun show, but again, not the local high school rendition of "Annie."

And I continued to be mesmerized in a chicken-egg way on the people in the expensive seats dressing appropriately and the people in the cheap seats not....

I saw Don Rickles about 11 years ago.  A Saturday night at the Desert Inn.  A guy came in late in bermuda shorts.  He had a field day with him "Glad to see you took the time to get dressed up for this... thanks... I feel really appreciated... Buddy, it's the Strip... Saturday night... were your jeans too dirty???"

With the obsession with reality shows on rich people, you would think it might translate into an appreciation for looking nice. I'm not talking obsessing about materialistic things, but looking, well presentable.

Me.  I'm in a t-shirt and shorts right now.  We went to the food co-op and got the car smogged.  Appropriate attire.  We are going to dinner after our dance recital today.  I will dress a little nicer.  Big girl pants.

There's something about getting dressed up that makes people act a little nicer, a little more courteous, a little classier.  Maybe our lack of class-- as witnessed on is directly related to when we stopped taking the time to dress a little nicer?

So those are my thoughts today.

Surprising from the girl who maximizes her time in flip flops.

Just not at a touring Broadway show.


Paula Humphries said...

I agree with you! I have told & tell my kids that school is their job & the good grades they earn is their paycheck. I wish my kids schools(which are public) would have uniforms nothing expensive khaki's and polo's are fine. It is so practical on so many levels. I volunteered in the library at Hope's school & the inappropriate attire of some of the grade school kid's saddened me. It would be a benefit to these kid's(because they are not learning it at home) to be taught young how to dress professionally, school is a great place to start.

Helen said...

I completely agree but I can't figure out where the lack of respect started because I see people my own age (and we didn't grow up this way) wearing jeans and ripped t-shirts to church and other places I think attire should be a bit better than that.

The whole not dressing thing really irritates me when it comes to nice restaurants. You're getting ready to drop anywhere from $150-$300 on a fabulous meal for two and you're wearing shorts and a tank top? I just don't get it and I appreciate restaurants that have a dress code, even if they do have to keep a stash of sports jackets for men to wear over their polo shirts.

While there's a time and a place for casual attire, I actually enjoy dressing nicely.

Rita said...

What does it mean to get your "car smogged"? I'm still out here in the Midwest and as far as I know I've never smogged my car. Just curious.

Mama Bean said...

It's an emissions test. Or a giant scam by the state to test for invisible gas.

Kimberly Coats said...

I have been asking this question since I started flying so much. The attire I see people wear on planes is mind boggling. Pajama bottoms and and tank top?! And this is for a 4 hour US flight. I fly 22 hours (not counting layovers) and I manage to wear jeans, a nice shirt (actually layers because planes are FREEZING) and I even put on makeup which after 22 hours is a bit faded. I tend to ONLY see this in the US. Europeans and even Africans do not wear pajama bottoms and tank tops on planes. And don't even get me started on the hoochie mamma shorts two sizes too small on the 30# overweight 12 year old. Have some class!

Mama Bean said...

Clearly THAT attire is for school functions!!

But seriously, you fly internationally with make-up?!?! My passport picture is intentionally hideous to estimate how I will look after a long flight... messy hair, no make up, dark circles...