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People Don’t Dress Up Anymore, All They Do Is This…

I just read an awesome article from the Huffington Post titled, “7 Ways Your Grandmother Dressed Better Than You.” It was so freaking on point and so true.

The list basically talks about how our foremothers were serious about the proper undergarments and proper fit of their clothing. It also discussed how because clothes were so expensive for everyone, knowing how to sew was a must among most American women of that generation. (Do they even have home economics anymore?)

That is totally a thing of the past unless a child has the fashion bug, and wants to be a designer and seeks out their very first sewing machine on their own. As an 80s baby, I had an Easy Bake Oven and I had a for real operational kid’s sewing machine. I feel like my generation was the last to be made to go to home economics, but honestly, when I can hem my pants or sew buttons for a boyfriend, it makes me feel like a hot commodity.

I actually want to take sewing lessons and learn how to make some things myself. It wasn’t uncommon back in the day for the older women of the neighborhood or some older person in your family to make a new baby a blanket, a christening outfit, prom dress or wedding dress.

The way things are now, I bet for most young women the first time they’ve ever worn tailored clothing is if they are a bride’s maid in someone’s wedding. There was a friend of mine a short thang who said she always had to get her pants and jeans tailored.

Tailoring! I had forgotten all about it. So when my jeans that fit right everyplace else but were too long and dragging on the ground, I realized, stupid, you can get these tailored!!!

It doesn’t even cross one’s mind and that’s sad. But as the article points out, what is the point of a good tailoring job if the fabrics are cheap and practically disposable anyway?

I didn’t realize how much we as a society, in America don’t dress up until a few years ago, my dad, who is quite stylish, visited me and we went out to dinner. He had on a button up shirt, slacks and blazer. I wore a dress. But all around us, people were wearing jeans.

My dad shook his head. To him dining out was an experience, therefore you dress up. I agree with him, although I eat out with my friends ALOT and I tend to be a jeans wearer, a lot of times, I do like to turn it up a notch and look like it’s a special occasion.

Then the last few times I’ve gone to the Kennedy Center for performances, I noticed that there were old school folks who dressed to the nines, like myself and others in….jeans.

In my opinion, the Kennedy Center is too beautiful to not show up looking your best. It’s one of my favorite places to go, because it feels so grand. But I guess the general consensus is you are sitting in the dark and no one will see you any way or you aren’t the one on stage.

We’ve gotten way too casual and it’s sad. I do think people feel better about themselves and hold themselves to a higher standard when they dress up for certain events and are expected to. There’s an increased level of civility. I know I walk with my head higher, I have better posture. What’s even worse is when you do go out for an event and everyone says, “Wow, you’re really dressed up.”

Actually, you’re way too casual. I love looking at blogs with street style in Europe and seeing how people in Milan and Paris turn everyday places into runways with a certain style and sophistication.

But here in the land of the free, home of the hamburger, we’ve gotten sloppy and slutty.

I’ll admit, I have moments I pull out a freakum dress or short shorts, but every occasion doesn’t call for that. I’ve been to weddings where people wore flip-flops (they are acceptable and smart during the reception only) and funerals where people wore jeans and tee shirts. (At hood funerals if said tee-shirt has a photo of the deceased, I’ll allow it).

Why can’t we even honor those moments with being well-dressed. We’ve gotten lazy as a society. “Clothes don’t represent who I am.” “I shouldn’t be judged by what I wear.” “People should accept me for who I am.”

I’m old school. I think people should dress nicely for church and I rarely wear pants to church, and if I do they are dress slacks, because that’s how I was raised. It’s not about showing off, or acting like wearing the best clothes is a status symbol or I want to be seen, but I want to respect myself and the occasion. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that or it makes me a dinosaur.

So hell yes, our grandparents dressed better. People may have been poorer or had less education, but they had way more class and self-respect. They had expectations and because they knew how to stretch pennies and make things happen, they knew how to cook and sew and fix things, we benefitted greatly, but it made us lazy.

Eartha Kitt photographed by Gordon Parks as she was being fitted for a dress by a woman who I am 99.9% sure is none other than the pioneering fashion designer Zelda Wynn Valdes in 1952.

Photo from blackvintageglamour.tumblr.com The amazing Eartha Kitt and her almighty seamstress.

Percy Verwayne (1895-1968) was the original Sportin’ Life in the 1927 Broadway DuBose and Dorothy Heyward play, “Porgy,” the precursor to the iconic 1935 George Gershwin opera “Porgy and Bess.” Mr. Verwayne was born in British Guiana (now Guyana) and appeared on Broadway, on radio and in several films for at least thirty years, but he was best known in his day for originating the role of Sportin’ Life. He was also a former athlete and that came in handy in 1941 when he was robbed of 75 cents by a very unwise 18-year-old within two blocks of his Harlem home at 400 West 128th street. The incident was gleefully reported in the New York Amsterdam News on August 9, 1941 under the headline, “Mugger Gets Wrong Victim.” According to the paper, when the mugger tried to run away, “Verwayne chased him for a block, grabbed him by the seat of his trousers and socked him into submission. When the cops arrived, Verwayne was in complete control of the situation.” I’ll bet he was… haha! Photo: New York Public Library, Billy Rose Theater Collection.

Now that’s bespoke. Photo from blackvintageglamour.tumblr.com

And now this is what we have today…

Rihanna Getty Images via Huffington Post.

So, I think deep down we want to dress awesomely. Aside from the storylines, people LIVE for the fashion of shows like “Mad Men,” “Sex and the City,” and most recently, “Scandal” because of the clothes, and the fit of the clothes. I am among a whole lot of people who created pinterest boards based on the fabulous Olivia Pope.

Folks aren’t just salivating over her steamy love scenes, but whilst live tweeting, you see folks going crazy over her coats, and amazingly chic clothing she wears sitting on the couch with her red wine.


Photo from scandalmoments.com Please see the wonder that is Olivia Pope in all of her fashionable glory. God, this show.

One of my personal faves. Grandmother would be proud, Liv.


Photo: Scandalmoments.com

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11 thoughts on “People Don’t Dress Up Anymore, All They Do Is This…

  1. Love! So true. I’m a total girlie girl and love to dress up and there are definitely occasions that call- nay, DEMAND it. My husband and I went to see the musical “Wicked” recently at the Ohio Theater (a very old, beautiful theater in Columbus, OH) and while the majority of people dressed up, there were a few that looked like they were going shopping at WalMart. What is WRONG with y’all?? I did not take home ec and really, really regret it. I love fashion and so wish I could make my own clothes or at least tailor the ones I have! Great article and pics!!

    • Thanks so much for reading and commenting! Yes, folks have gotten waaay too casual and there are some younger people who just don’t know how to dress for special occasions, hence all of these rules at proms and people still ending up looking a mess.

      It’s super important to take pride in one’s self and clothing choices. Our elders have it right and to this day, older people are always looking neat and put together.

      Did you know places like Michael’s, or Jo-Ann Fabric or any major craft store has sewing classes? They have all kinds of levels. It’s on my list to take one of those classes and learn how to make my own clothes or tailor the ones I already have. You should totally check it out!!

  2. They do still teach home ec, at least here in the flyover states. It’s called FACS now (an acronym for Family and Consumer Science) but it was a requirement for two years when my daughter was in middle school. But truthfully, just getting a cheap machine and an easy pattern and playing is one of the best ways to learn. That or YouTube videos. If my husband can learn to change his brakes by watching YouTube, I think anyone can learn to sew by watching YouTube.

    I think you’re right about only kids who have the fashion bug really learning to sew. My daughter wants to be a designer, and so she has become quite adept with the machine. She’s made all of her cosplay costumes so far, and they’ve turned out quite amazing. Good for you for wanting to bring daily glamour back.

    PS-could Eartha Kitt be any more gorgeous? That woman had some serious style.

  3. A friend of mine just went to Dragon Con in Atlanta this past weekend and said the detail of the costumes were just unreal. If your daughter can make those costumes she has real talent!!! What a great gift! She’s well on her way to being a fantastic designer. You’re right, Youtube is a really great source to learn just about anything. I’ve learned how to make jewelry, cooking ideas, etc. So why not sewing too!!!

  4. Jaimee Drayton on said:

    You are amazing. Olivia Pope has breathed fresh air into my wardrobe. I tend to blend instead of stand out. My office attire is business casual and that means khaki’s, blouses and collared shirts. There is no reason why I should not be able to step it up a couple notches. Thank you!!!! I have a sewing machine in my garage that I do not know how to use. I am looking for a sewing class asap. There is no reason to pay Banana Republic and Limited prices for something I can make.

    • Awww thanks! And thanks for reading and commenting. I love Liv, just her coats alone cause people to faint. There is nothing wrong with putting a little ummph in your work wardrobe as long as it’s appropriate. When I know I look good, I feel better. I just do! I should get myself a sewing machine for Christmas and get acquainted. There are some great sewing bloggers, one lady I think it Mimi G and another is the lady behind a dress a day, who takes clothes from thrift stores and makes them awesome!!! Good luck to you!!

  5. flip flops aren’t acceptable during weddings.

  6. Patrick, not even during the reception when every one’s feet are aching? Some folks have had basket of flip flops for the ladies to change into so they can enjoy dancing. That’s a cute idea. During the actual ceremony, I agree with you.

  7. Good Read. Thank you for the post.

  8. Sharon on said:

    I love all of those shows and for the reasons you mentioned. I loved going into the Limited buying the Scandal (Olivia Pope) clothing. Loved Sex in the City and Mad Men for fashion reasons.

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