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A NY Post theater critic, Elisabeth Vincentelli, has a corner of the internet in a tizzy over her editorial "For the love of God, stop dressing like crap", in which she takes aim at our society's collective lack of sartorial decorum and pines for the days of dress codes. Now, having attended a public magnet high school with a jacket-and-tie dress code for boys, I can say with some certainty that dress codes do not and cannot stop bad dressers from dressing badly. They do, however, at least establish a standard somewhere north of jeggings. But I'm not going to wade into that fray; instead, I'd like to discuss how much the comments (and opposing editorials) miss the point entirely.
By the way, this Camoshita joint is what I'd wear to the theater, were I the kind of person who drops a rack on show tickets and another rack on a double breasted jacket to rock at said show:
The bulk of the opposition to Ms. Vincentelli's argument seems to originate in the (utterly mistaken) belief that the call for dressing well is some sort of classist dog whistle, an elitist attack on the utilitarian habiliments of the honest proletariat. This is a load of hooey. Dressing well does not require spending the GDP of a small, developing nation. You need not drape yourself exclusively in Raf and Rick to look presentable. Living in LA, one may notice that dressing like a schlub is not limited to the working or middle classes. Money can buy you fashion, but it can't buy you fashion sense. If you can afford a computer, an internet connection, and the time to complain about NY Post op-eds, you can afford to dress like an adult human. This is pretty much the entire reason why the fast-fashion market exists.
Both of the above pairs of pants are from Uniqlo. The gray sweats cost 29.90 USD, while the brown chinos will set you back 39.90 USD. Please keep in mind that Ms. Vincentelli's piece primarily concerns people a) at the theater, b) on airplanes, and c) playing tennis. She's not admonishing people in line at the soup kitchen for not rocking Visvim. If you go to Broadway shows, but can't drop 40 bucks on a pair of presentable pants, you have a fucking problem, fam.
The other common objection to Ms. Vincentelli is the claim that, in a free society, you should have the liberty to dress in whatever manner you please. This is true (to an extent): you are free to dress as you will. But you are not free from judgement. That is the price you pay for liberty. Unlike Ms. Vincentelli, I'm not interested in a return to enforced dress codes. I want less rules, not more. What I would like, however, is for everyone to use a little common sense and exercise a little decorum. Oh, and burn all the jorts in the land.
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