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Why are men's clothing so boring?

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The other day, for instance, I wore a straw boater hat, linen sportcoat, white cotton shirt, bow-tie, white duck trousers and white suede buck shoes.
Could you translate that into layman's terms for me? Is a boater hat the same thing as a fisherman's hat? What kind of white cotton shirt did you wear? (was it a button-down shirt, like on a business suit? Did you wear anything under the cotton shirt?) What are duck trousers? Also, if your stuff is pure cotton, doesn't it shrink?

Are you serious about being able to wear a long-sleeve button-down shirt with a sport coat in 100+ degree heat? I don't see how that's possible!

I usually don't have much of a problem with hat hair because my hairstyle is also 1930s style and doesn't require much more than running my fingers through it to get it styled properly again.

My hair is super-easy, too, but when I wear a hat, it tends to stick straight up in places, and not come back down for hours and hours, no matter what I do.

Too, I have never been too worried about wrinkles on khakis anyway. Khakis are casual pants, and I don't really worry about wrinkles on my casual clothes.

Haha, I like it because I hate doing laundry and so often just leave them in the dryer, where they will wrinkle right up.

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I notice that a few here have objected to 1930's style on the grounds that it would be silly or out of place. I think the same thing (though I wouldn't put it in quite those terms), but had to do a bit of thinking on the subject because I agree with Dismuke as well. How, then, can it be out of place, and at the same time desperately needed?

Because convention is not necessarily utilitarian (in the generic or aesthetic sense)?

My conclusion is that, stylistic though they are, these fashions are not meant for the 21st century. While we desperately need the kind of style that is borne of the values present in that era, it is not enough to merely revive it.
I agree. But I haven't seen anyone here suggest that that style be merely revived. Dismuke, in fact, has argued against that at length in several posts. A strict revival of the style for some things that are still applicable might be good as a preliminary step to moving forward, but it's certainly not some kind of intrinsic ideal. (Personally, I like the fashions of the late 19th century to the 1920's best. But the 30's and 40's and even the 50's had their charms, too. The 60's and 70's were just queasy. I like some 80's fashion. The 90's were a queasy mix of 60's/70's "retro" and "ghetto-fabulous." Right now is a strange kind of cultural limbo. It's like it's anyone's game, now. :))

The context has changed in the last 70 years, and not only because the nihilists have wiped so much out. It has also changed because technology has progressed. Materials science has progressed. The objects of everyday life have changed; suit pockets no longer need to accommodate pocket watches. They might accommodate Ipods. Fitness has been discovered; people often walk further or work out during the day.

Exercise was invented in the 1960's? :thumbsup: I think, if anything (although maybe you know something I don't know), improvements in modern fitness techniques have kept things even at best. In the early part of the 20'th century, America was still mostly an industrial economy. There was a lot of manual labor-- people had to sweat and work their asses off all day long to earn their bread. Now it's said to be more of a service economy-- people sit in front of a desk all day. So if you're making an argument for a change in people's shape, I'm not sure that fitness being "discovered" is the proper fact to note. Sportsmanship was probably valued more in the early 20th century than it is today. The main difference about people's shapes now is that there are a lot more overweight people. If anything, designers should work on designing clothes that make heftier set people look more dignified (but in fact, overweight people in the '30s looked far more dignified than they do today, based on what I've seen). If your argument is simply that clothes that people wear while they exercise should be more modern, that's undoubtedly true. But, are exercise clothes really that different now? I know the shoes are much better now. But sweatpants, t-shirts, and headbands still look pretty much the same to me as pictures I've seen from the 30's.

New forms of entertainment have been created. The job landscape has changed drastically: people don't hold the same jobs they did in that era. There are entirely new jobs which did not exist back then. As unrelated to fashion as these things may seem, they all have their influences; fashion is built around the lives of the people who wear the clothes (it is that way in all utilitarian/aesthetic industries).
I don't think that seems unrelated to fashion. I think you're totally right.

Yes, we need to revive the values of 1930's fashion - not 1930's fashion itself. That would be as out of place as Doric columns on Howard Roark's buildings.

But, one thing you might be overlooking is-- 1930's fashion was derived from 1930's values, to a large extent. The thing I think you're suggesting that people avoid is to indiscriminately incorporate 1930's fashions into their wardrobe without any regard to context. That would be no better than what people do now-- indiscriminately incorporating modern fashions into their wardrobe without any regard to context (as has been nicely illustrated in this thread already). I agree with that, 100%. Although I'm not the expert on etiquette that some people here are, my understanding is that it would be as offensive to wear a pair of knickerbockers to a formal event as it would be to wear blue jeans.

What drives me crazy is the sight of so-called "creative" and "artistic" types who will commit acts such as wearing a nice suit with tennis shoes as some sort of fashion statement - something I consider to be very nihilistic. (Last time I was in New York, I saw people in business suits who put on sneakers for their walk home, presumably for comfort. While ridiculous looking, I wouldn't necessarily consider those individuals to be nihilists).

Recently I watched a documentary from 1992 called James Cagney: Top of the World, hosted by Michael J. Fox. Actually, I watched it because I like Michael J. Fox, not James Cagney (I never much liked gangster movies, even ones from the '30s). But I thought of Mr. Fox's outfit when you said that, because he was wearing these bright blue denim pants, with a dress shirt, tie, and dress jacket. Lol, it was at least somewhat distracting. I wouldn't really call it nihilistic, though. I think it's maybe possible that some people can "pull off" looks that would be nihilistic for other people? Or may there be some situations where a hybrid of formal and casual attire is appropriate?

post-634-1153732297_thumb.jpg

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Exercise was invented in the 1960's? :thumbsup:

Haha, no, not exercise. The exercise culture. "Going to the gym." Weightlifting. Excercise as divorced from one's work. People sweat and clothes need to work around that. Not just gym clothes, either.

The fact that we're a largely desk-bound service economy is another point. A good number of people aren't fit at all. Their concern is a set of clothes they can sit in one place in all day. Clothes need to work around that fact, too.

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Recently I watched a documentary from 1992 called James Cagney: Top of the World, hosted by Michael J. Fox. Actually, I watched it because I like Michael J. Fox, not James Cagney (I never much liked gangster movies, even ones from the '30s). But I thought of Mr. Fox's outfit when you said that, because he was wearing these bright blue denim pants, with a dress shirt, tie, and dress jacket. Lol, it was at least somewhat distracting. I wouldn't really call it nihilistic, though. I think it's maybe possible that some people can "pull off" looks that would be nihilistic for other people? Or may there be some situations where a hybrid of formal and casual attire is appropriate?

I have some comments on various things including Inspector's posting that will have to wait until I have more time. However, I do want to put up a few words about the Michael J. Fox picture.

I don't think Fox's clothing is nihilistic. In fact, his motives are probably the opposite: I think he is attempting to add a touch of style and class to a casual outfit.

Unfortunately, I don't think it works very well.

The first thing he needs to do is either ditch the tie or put on different pants.

Never wear a tie with blue jeans. It looks dorky. Blue jeans are traditionally work clothes - clothes that are very likely to get grubby and dirty while working on the farm and are durable enough to withstand it and wash clean. True, blue jeans have taken on a different meaning in recent decade and most people wouldn't dare wear the jeans they slapped down ridiculous amounts of money for while doing gardening. Nevertheless, blue jeans remain as examples of very casual clothing. Wearing a tie with blue jeans looks about as absurd as a farmer wearing a top hat with his bib overalls while riding up and down his fields in a tractor.

Now, I have seen people wearing sports coats with blue jeans and I think it looked ok. But that's because a sports coat is also an example of casual clothing - though not as casual, of course, as blue jeans. I don't have a problem with people wearing a sports coat to dress up their blue jeans (though I am not a big fan of it). It is just that it does not look absurd. Wearing a tie with blue jeans does.

Personally, I don't understand the modern obsession with blue jeans. As has been pointed out, they are not especially comfortable items of clothing - especially in the summer months. The only time I wear them is when I am doing grubby work or during the cooler months of the year in very casual situations such as hanging around the house or running errands or maybe attending a very casual social gathering of some sort. I certainly don't wear blue jeans as any sort of fashion statement - indeed, they are the ultimate example of an anti-fashion statement. They are the clothes one wears if one wishes to blend in with the masses and look like everybody else. There are occasions when a person might want to do this - and for that they are valid. They are certainly a godsend for anybody who is on an extremely limited clothing budget. When one does not have much money for clothes - well, unless one is lucky enough to hit a bonanza in one's size at a thrift store, it is probably going to be very difficult, if not impossible, to be dressed better than average. One's objective then, should be to try and put a wardrobe together where one does not look worse than average - and since blue jeans in today's world are the "uniform of the masses" and one can buy store brands for not a lot of money, one need not go around looking like a dork. Khakis are a huge step up from blue jeans and don't cost very much more money. But if one is a starving college student and can only afford to own two or three pairs of pants, one can get away with it much easier with blue jeans and can wear them much longer after they begin to age and wear than one can with khakis. Being the default "uniform of the masses" makes them more versatile.

This gives me an opportunity to bring up a point that I do think needs to be included at least somewhere in this thread: When evaluating whether or not a person you know is well dressed, it is necessary to take their financial circumstances into consideration. The question to ask is "what clothing choices do they make within the context of that which they can afford." One of the things that is nice about today is the fact that, due to the widespread "lowest common denominator" mentality, it is possible for someone with little money to not have to stand out because of it. And for those who do have excellent taste in clothing but do not have much money - well, that can be a very frustrating experience. One can think: "gee, folks back in the 1930s looked really cool - that is a much more accurate reflection of my values than looking like a run of the mill prole." And then one remembers that it won't be until next week that one will have the extra cash needed to go to Wal-mart and purchase the much needed replacement for the pair of blue jeans that have worn out beyond repair. In that situation, all one can do is look as nice as one can within the limits of what he can afford - and don't try to dress beyond what you can afford as that will look even worse. Someday you will be able to dress nicer - and when that time comes, you may or may not decide to spend the money to do so.

Clothing is nothing more than packaging. I have been arguing in this thread that such packaging is very important - but that doesn't change the fact that packaging is all it is. I have a friend who I have every reason to believe thinks that Vladimir and I and the people over at The Fedora Lounge are border line loony when it comes to the issue of fashion and clothes (he is just too polite to say so). He dresses like a typical college kid - and I don't think one bit less of him as a result. That is merely one value we do not share in common - just as I have Objectivist friends who do not share my taste in music and vintage music friends who subscribe to philosophical world views that I profoundly disagree with. I have almost as much contempt for snobs as I do egalitarians - so my postings in this thread should not be interpreted as being snobbish. That having been said, however, it should be pointed out that having high standards does not make one a snob

Edited by Dismuke

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Concerning jeans, in the widest modern context it would be ridiculous to classify them workwear. Today, jeans are a luxury item, where brands like Diesel, Versace, PaperDenim, or even Abercrombie and Levi's make an entirely different product than Wrangler or other styles of Levi's. The cuts are vastly different and the dying processes are more complex. And if there wasn't a market for it, they wouldn't be so widespread. Personally I would gladly take bluejeans over khakis every day.

There is also no reason why a tie can't look good with jeans. If you take a tie for what it really is, a piece of decoration, all you have to do is mix the right colors and textures to get a good result. Mr. Fox unfortunately failed on both accounts, although his jeans are terrible to begin with. The picture I've attached provides a slightly better example.

tie and jeans

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Could you translate that into layman's terms for me? Is a boater hat the same thing as a fisherman's hat? What kind of white cotton shirt did you wear? (was it a button-down shirt, like on a business suit? Did you wear anything under the cotton shirt?) What are duck trousers? Also, if your stuff is pure cotton, doesn't it shrink?

Are you serious about being able to wear a long-sleeve button-down shirt with a sport coat in 100+ degree heat? I don't see how that's possible!

A boater hat is a type of straw hat as illustrated below. No, I don't wear undershirts. White duck trousers are basically white cotton "khakis" only in a white color and cuffed. Cotton does shrink, yes, but manufacturers allow for it in the sizing. Too, since I am in West Texas, it is so dry that 100+ degree heat is not as big a deal as it is in other places. The main thing is the sun, not the heat.

Boater%20Straw%20Jul%202%202002%20225X.gif

Concerning jeans, in the widest modern context it would be ridiculous to classify them workwear. Today, jeans are a luxury item, where brands like Diesel, Versace, PaperDenim, or even Abercrombie and Levi's make an entirely different product than Wrangler or other styles of Levi's. The cuts are vastly different and the dying processes are more complex. And if there wasn't a market for it, they wouldn't be so widespread. Personally I would gladly take bluejeans over khakis every day.

True, people pay large sums for "designer" jeans, which I find amusing more than anything else. At bottom though, jeans were and still are unacceptable as anything but casual pants or workwear. People in the 70s tried to get them to be accepted as business or dress clothing but they failed. I would say that the widespread appeal of jeans is largely based on 60s principles of nihilism, egalitarianism and prolitarianism. The ironic thing is that while jeans are based on such ideals, their mass appeal has led the well-healed to have to buy ever more expensive brands of jeans in an attempt to differentiate themselves from the truly proletariate who can only afford off-brand jeans at Wal-Mart.

There is also no reason why a tie can't look good with jeans. If you take a tie for what it really is, a piece of decoration, all you have to do is mix the right colors and textures to get a good result. Mr. Fox unfortunately failed on both accounts, although his jeans are terrible to begin with. The picture I've attached provides a slightly better example.

tie and jeans

"Tie-and-jeans" is a sartorial oxymoron. Ties are a symbol of formality, whereas jeans are a symbol of informality. Thus wearing a tie with jeans is either signaling your contempt for the tie, your ignorance, or your attempt to be "unique" by wearing mismatched articles of clothing in an "ironic" fashion. Any of these signals is likely not one you should wish to send.

Edited by Vladimir Berkov

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I would say that the widespread appeal of jeans is largely based on 60s principles of nihilism, egalitarianism and prolitarianism.
Or, jeans (if you buy the right ones) are comfortable, breathe well while maintaining your body temperature, make your ass look great (if you have something to work with), and most importantly go with virtually everything, including ties. The only reason a tie wouldn't go with jeans is if you said it wouldn't, or, ties are only a sign of formality to those who choose to label them as such, in a certain context. The picture I linked fits none of your all-encompassing "signals," but in fact is a good mix of color and texture, as I described.

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Personally, I don't understand the modern obsession with blue jeans. As has been pointed out, they are not especially comfortable items of clothing - especially in the summer months.

I beg to differ. They are the single most comfortable thing I wear. Every other pair of pants I've ever worn is always tugging or clinging to me, or hanging off of me, or bunching up, in the wrong places. Jeans just.... fit. I have found some khakis that are cut like jeans, and those are great, too. But nothing quite matches the denim in my jeans. It never wrinkles, it never "feels" wrong or needs adjusting.

You can call jeans plebian. You can call them informal. But don't call them uncomfortable. :o

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Obviously we have a vastly different conception of what "style" is, because to me the man in the picture you posted looks like a total slob. In fact, I think there is something wrong with every single article in his wardrobe.

Not only is the shirt untucked, but the collar is open while wearing a tie. Not only that but the shirt looks like it isn't quite the right size as it is completely pulled apart at the waist. You then of course have the tie-with-jeans problem.

Really the only thing that keeps me from saying the guy is some random homeless bum of the streets is that the clothes all look reasonably clean...

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I would say that the widespread appeal of jeans is largely based on 60s principles of nihilism, egalitarianism and prolitarianism.

I disagree. Jeans may have looked bad in the 60's and 70's (most everything did...), but modern jeans more resemble the ones of the 50's, 40's, and 30's. The appeal of jeans is that they are honest clothing; untouched by the pretentious nihilism of modern fashion. Note that the nihilists are now in contempt of jeans, as well... just as they are in contempt of the cowboy, who was the icon of jeans.

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I disagree. Jeans may have looked bad in the 60's and 70's (most everything did...), but modern jeans more resemble the ones of the 50's, 40's, and 30's. The appeal of jeans is that they are honest clothing; untouched by the pretentious nihilism of modern fashion. Note that the nihilists are now in contempt of jeans, as well... just as they are in contempt of the cowboy, who was the icon of jeans.

But the idea that jeans are "honest" clothing is exactly what attracted 50s and especially 60s "counter-culture" types to them. Previous rules of proper attire dictated that jeans were only worn by working-class men. Starting really in the 50s it started to become "cool" for people who were not working-class and who didn't need to wear jeans to wear them. Part of this is certainly due to the influence of the cowboy theme in the post-war era, I agree.

Jeans in the 60s particularly were a statement by young people, again, people who were not workmen or largely even working-class, that they were rebelling against the establishment, and the "suits" and instead were going to substitute a more egalitarian and democratic fashion, drawn on the lower class in the same way that the era idolized folk music and folk art.

The problem today is that the generation which wore jeans as a statement of their reaction to the establishment now IS the establishment. It is their children and grand-children who are wearing jeans today. Nobody wearing jeans today is wearing them as a protest against injustice or for democratic or egalitarian values. People today largely wear jeans simply because they grew up wearing them, their parents wore them, their friends wear them, celebrities wear them, and they are sold and seen in every possible store.

This is why you see the proliferation of so many different styles, cuts, demin fabrics, distressing, embossing, painting, ripping, acid-washing, shredding and plain destruction of jeans. It isn't cool JUST to wear jeans as it was in the 50s or 60s. Today, you have to be wearing the right brand and style of jeans. Essentially you wear the jeans of the group you want to identify with.

And because of this, jeans are no longer "honest" workwear. They are simply another status-symbol for label-concious consumers eager to impress people with the fact that they paid $285 for a pair of jeans which cost $2.85 to produce in China.

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JASKN, that guy doesn't look work-appropriate. He looks fine for relaxing after work.
Well I'm here to say that what is currently considered "work appropriate" is just plain stupid. The main reason people wear suits and ties to work is because other people consider the ensemble to be the appropriate attire. Not only would most people would prefer to be more relaxed, and I see no problem with that, but they also look terrible in suits because they are too fat or have odd bodies.

The real issue is that most people have no idea what it means to dress for their own bodies, not that men aren't wearing out-of-date hats and white, hemmed pants. What most men pass off as work-appropriate simply because it includes trousers, a jacket, a button-down and tie, I consider sad, sad, sad, uninspired, or careless.

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Let me explain something about clothing as it is being discussed in this thread. As everyone knows, the only reason clothing has such a meaning as disrespectful, trendy, ironic, or whatever is because people give it that meaning. Thus, every idea that a piece of clothing could represent, such as nihilistic, can be changed by me, or you, or anyone. There is not a dictionary which defines the meaning of clothing in different contexts. If the hippies of the '60s would have dressed up as 1830 English upper-class, you could just as easily make up and associate the same meaning for that clothing that you do for jeans and flowy material now.

And judging whether a person is respectful based on his clothing is right up there with the importance of manners. You can do it if you want, and it may help you in dealing with people more easily in the short-term, or you can say, "This is just plain stupid, even if it is easier for someone else to deal with right now, so I'm not going to comply. From now on, I'm doing it this way, and I mean no less respect." If someone has a major problem, they can ask about it and have the situation clarified.

When you pick your clothing, pick it for practical reasons and then for personal aesthetic reasons. Beyond that, it's nobody's damn business but yours.

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There is also no reason why a tie can't look good with jeans. If you take a tie for what it really is, a piece of decoration, all you have to do is mix the right colors and textures to get a good result.

Gee - JASKN, you are the last person in this thread I figured I would have to invoke the "form follows function" principle with. But in this case, I do.

There is a reason why a tie is not appropriate with jeans - and the right colors and textures are irrelevant because it has nothing to do with "looks." A tie is NOT just some arbitrary "decoration." It exists for a very specific purpose. People properly wear ties in certain delimited contexts for very specific reasons in order to communicate and project a very specific messages. Outside of that context, a tie is useless - in fact, it is worse than useless.

To give a different example, wearing a pocket square can add a dash of flair and elegance to an otherwise ordinary suit. However, if you were wearing a tee shirt with a pocket or a polo shirt with a pocket and you decided to use it to sport a pocket square - well, I don't care how well the colors and textures coordinate, people would justifiably look at you as if you were Rufus Goofus.

At a bare minimum, a tie says "I am dressed up." Wearing jeans - even expensive "designer" jeans states the exact opposite. Jeans are, as a matter of principle, an exclusively casual form of clothing.

There is a place for ties in casual clothing. One sometimes sees "creative" and "artsy" types who wear suits, dress shirts and ties which would be considered way too flamboyant to be appropriate as business attire in all but a few of the more "artsy" professions. But even in these situations a tie is a way of "dressing up" albeit in a purely casual context. Such clothes are a way of coming across as less formal but within the context of a specific tradition of dress.

Blue jeans in their modern context are NOT part of that same tradition. As a fashion statement, their contemporary usage, in fact, evolved from a tradition that had nothing but contempt for suits and ties and the implicit messages that such clothes communicated. Blue jeans are not merely casual - they are specifically and, as a matter of principle, non-formal.

In their historical context, blue jeans were work clothes for people who performed manual labor - and, as such, there was NOTHING formal or "dressy" about them. The 1960s hippies adopted blue jeans because they had previously been viewed as working class type clothes which they then elevated into fashion statement in the name of egalitarianism. That the hippies adopted denim for this purpose was not a tribute to the hard working farmers, ranchers and factory workers who previously wore it but rather an insult, albeit in a rather backhanded form.

It is true that, as a result of their popularization during the counterculture, blue jeans have, as a form of clothing, evolved beyond their original hippie/countercultural connotations. Most people today who wear blue jeans are not hippies and would be disgusted at the sight of one. What remains intact, however, is the implicit egalitarianism that blue jeans have come to symbolize as a fashion statement.

You mention that there are very expensive and "exclusive" brands of blue jeans. Like, Vladimir I find that to be very amusing. But I also find it to be a sign of something good. It just goes to show that, even after the counterculture, people do continue to seek out something more than just the lowest common egalitarian denominator. They do wish to have clothes which are a "cut above" and which are special. In other words, such people do wish to "look their best" - they just wish to do so without breaking out of the egalitarian mold of "fitting in with everyone else" that is now firmly entrenched in our popular culture and which the convention of wearing of blue jeans as a fashion statement has come to represent.

The only reason a tie wouldn't go with jeans is if you said it wouldn't, or, ties are only a sign of formality to those who choose to label them as such, in a certain context.

I am afraid that this is incorrect. The fact that a tie symbolizes and communicates something very specific is NOT arbitrary. It is a firmly established convention and tradition. Now, one can argue that this particular convention is nothing more than a historical accident and that things could have evolved in such a way that something different than the ties we know today might have come to symbolize the same exact thing. And that is certainly correct.- but that is not what happened. The conventions of formality in clothing evolved the way that they did evolve - and, as a result, a tie does convey a certain message that virtually everyone in the culture, whether they love ties or hate them, grasps on some implicit level. The exact same things that a hippie despises about suits and ties are the exact same things I like about them - which is a pretty good sign that the message that they communicate is objective and well understood by both parties.

Because we do project implicit messages to others by virtue of the clothes we choose to wear, fashion is one area in a rational culture where tradition and convention does have a proper role to play. Another area where tradition and convention have a proper role to play is in the use of language. And there is a reason why this is the case in both instances: both the specific words we use and how we use them and the specific clothes we wear and how we wear them constitute forms of communication. And in order for such communication between people to be objective, there must be certain commonly understood conventions of what means what.

If you think about it, such conventions are firmly established in all parts of our culture and any other culture - even with regard to the contemporary usage of blue jeans. For example, why are blue jeans blue? Isn't that just a matter of historical accident - perhaps blue dye was cheaper way back when? Blue is a nice color - but isn't red also nice and what about green? Isn't it kind of arbitrary that the most widely accepted form of color for denim happens to be blue?

What would happen if you went to school wearing the exact same jeans that you do today - except for the fact that they were, instead, a similar shade of red? Or how about yellow jeans? Or what if you wore pink jeans? What sort of message would that send to your classmates and what would they likely say behind your back? Isn't it a mere arbitrary convention that, in order to make communicate a certain fashion statement of "fitting in" it is necessary to were jeans which are blue? Well, it is a convention - but it isn't arbitrary. It isn't arbitrary because that is the way things have evolved - and, therefore, it is something you take cognizance of when you go clothes shopping.

To use a different example, it is a matter of historical accident that the US military salute is what it is and did not develop into the Nazi salute. And there is nothing intrinsically horrible about the Nazi salute other than the fact that it has come to be associated with the Nazis. Had the USA come up with it in the early 1800s, we might, in fact, consider it to be downright patriotic. One might even be able to perhaps make an aesthetic case that the Nazi salute is more graceful, elegant and expressive. But nobody would make that case because the convention of what a specific military salute communicates is not arbitrary - and if you see a person doing the Seig Heil salute, you are likely to pass certain judgments on him.

Now, it is indeed true that there are people out there who, thanks to the egalitarian "anything goes" mindset of the counterculture, have never been taught the specific images and messages that certain items of non- "counterculture approved" clothing do project and convey. The fact that some people are ignorant of the specific message that a tie communicates does not change the fact that it does communicate something specific and that this fact is not something that is arbitrary on grounds that Dismuke and Vladimir and a bunch of other fuddie duddies happen to say so.

Have you ever known a very pretentious person - perhaps a child - who has been around older or more educated people with better vocabulary and then went around and started throwing big words around in conversation without actually understanding the full meaning or proper usage of such words? When you encounter such people, what do you think of them? If they are very young, you might find it amusing in a charming sort of way. If the person is an adult, you probably feel a sense of pity at their lack of a good education.

When a person starts to use articles of clothing without regard for the messages that they exist to communicate - well, when they encounter people who do understand, they essentially place themselves in the exact same position as a person who uses big words that he doesn't understand. He will be viewed as either pretentious or pathetically ignorant. And that is exactly what I think whenever I see someone wearing blue jeans with a tie. Either the person is trying to look dressed up in a very sad sort of way beyond his financial means or else he is utterly ignorant in the proper usage of clothes.

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The 1960s hippies adopted blue jeans because they had previously been viewed as working class type clothes which they then elevated into fashion statement in the name of egalitarianism. That the hippies adopted denim for this purpose was not a tribute to the hard working farmers, ranchers and factory workers who previously wore it but rather an insult, albeit in a rather backhanded form.

Agreed. However, that is precisely why jeans should not be seen as "hippie clothes," (not unless they have beads on them or bell-bottoms or something) any more than the military uniforms (which they also wore ironically) should be.

Also on the subject of jeans, here's a small story:

I've worked in computers for a bit, and you have to do a lot of physical labor in that job. You have to crawl under desks, over equipment, and into places that are positively filthy. A few jobs I've had have insisted upon Khakis and polos, which was positively insane, given the kind of work I did. I think it's equally nuts for executives to be wearing jeans every day, like I've seen in some of the other places I've worked. People just don't seem to understand that clothes have purpose.

And JASKN, wearing a tie with jeans is definitely mixing your metaphors. I really agree with what Dismike says about culture and context.

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Let me explain something about clothing as it is being discussed in this thread. As everyone knows, the only reason clothing has such a meaning as disrespectful, trendy, ironic, or whatever is because people give it that meaning. Thus, every idea that a piece of clothing could represent, such as nihilistic, can be changed by me, or you, or anyone. There is not a dictionary which defines the meaning of clothing in different contexts. If the hippies of the '60s would have dressed up as 1830 English upper-class, you could just as easily make up and associate the same meaning for that clothing that you do for jeans and flowy material now.

When you pick your clothing, pick it for practical reasons and then for personal aesthetic reasons. Beyond that, it's nobody's damn business but yours.

You are essentially making the same argument with regard to messages we communicate to others through our clothing that the advocates of Ebonics make with regard to language. And the results of both, if carried to their logical conclusion, would be the same: nobody would have any idea exactly what another person is trying to say.

The cultural associations of what certain types of clothing stands for cannot be singlehandedly changed by me or you or any one person specifically. Such things can and do and should change as they have changed down through the centuries. But, like language, it is necessary for such things to evolve rather than changing in fundamental ways overnight.

If you wish to get a job and be successful in a great many industries, it is necessary to project a certain type of image.

The only time I have ever worn a suit to my present job was on a day when I had to testify as a witness in court before I came in. Nobody wears a suit to work at the company I work for unless they have a similar sort of reason. But I guarantee you that I wore a suit during my job interviews. My not wearing a suit for interview for a management position - well, that would not have communicated the right sort of message even though the person who was interviewing me was dressed casually. My suit did not win me my job - but it certainly enabled me to project during the interview that I was a serious and professional candidate who does have enough familiarity with the business world to know what the appropriate customs of dress are, even if they are not practiced at this specific company. My wearing a suit indicated that I had respect for the interview process and my potential employer, that I took it seriously and that I wanted to be taken seriously as a candidate. If I wore a tee shirt and jeans to work tomorrow, nobody would say a word other than perhaps make the observation that I was dressed different than normal. But what if I wore a tee shirt and blue jeans to my job interview? Regardless of the information that is on my resume, what sort of image would I have projected both about myself, my level of respect towards the company and my level of interest in actually getting the job?

If you wish to ignore or disregard certain conventions in your dress - well, in a free country you are entitled to do so. But you also must face the consequences - which in many professions, may mean reduced or extremely limited employment opportunities. If you like to wear lots of nose rings and such - well, you might have to choose between your style of dress and being a banker.

Personally, I reject the convention of blue jeans as a fashion statement. For years, I refused to wear them at all on principle. I know that blue jeans in their modern usage have evolved beyond their original counterculture context. But the fact is that the modern roots of denim are in the counterculture - and I despise the counterculture, I view it as evil and an assault on everything which I hold dear and sacred and I want NOTHING to do with it, no matter how derivative and watered down it might have since become. Whenever I do discover that I have, in some way or another, been infected by counterculture based premises that I picked up by virtue of growing up in a post counterculture world (the biggest example has been in the realm of my manners - but there have been other areas as well) I make it a big priority to root it out of my life as quickly as possible.

I ended up buying some blue jeans a few years ago because we were redecorating at the office and I was needing to do some crawling around and helping move stuff out of the way - and the jeans I do own are the cheapo kind that I got from Wal-mart because that is something I refuse to spend very much of my hard earned money on. For me, I use jeans only for their original function: work clothes.

In rejecting today's post counterculture convention of wearing blue jeans, I am fully aware that I risk certain consequences - certain types of people are likely to consider me to be "uncool." Since such people would consider me to be "uncool" no matter how I dress, I am fully prepared to face those consequences. The price I pay for that is minimal.

If you wish to reject the conventions of formality which have managed to survive despite the counterculture - you may do so, but there will most likely be certain consequences. If you are not prepared to face those consequences - well, the good news is that there are plenty of ways to express one's individuality within the context of most forms of conventional clothing whether it be blue jeans or a business suit.

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When a person starts to use articles of clothing without regard for the messages that they exist to communicate - well, when they encounter people who do understand, they essentially place themselves in the exact same position as a person who uses big words that he doesn't understand. He will be viewed as either pretentious or pathetically ignorant. And that is exactly what I think whenever I see someone wearing blue jeans with a tie. Either the person is trying to look dressed up in a very sad sort of way beyond his financial means or else he is utterly ignorant in the proper usage of clothes.
I understand that you believe you are correct and I am pretentious because you know more about the historical context of clothing than I do. Well, I think it's great that you can explain what clothing means to you and why you like and wear what you do. But I have already explained why I think you are wrong. As far as I am concerned, in the greatest way that I can manage without compromising something more important, no person's opinion of what I am wearing is going to stop me from wearing it if I like the clothes.

Really, what do you expect me to do, Dismuke? Immerse myself in the history of fashion in order to make sure I know exactly what other people in a completely unrelated era have thought about a specific article of clothing that I am wearing so that I can decide how to wear it? Insane! Who cares, anyway?

Edit: I am very aware of the modern, general views on what different types of clothing communicate. I choose to place little value on that communication and much more on my personal preferences. I am also very aware of any possible consequence that I am able to predict, as a result.

Edited by JASKN

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Really, what do you expect me to do, Dismuke? Immerse myself in the history of fashion in order to make sure I know exactly what other people in a completely unrelated era have thought about a specific article of clothing that I am wearing so that I can decide how to wear it? Insane! Who cares, anyway?

You are reading into my postings stuff that simply isn't there.

I have not particularly immersed myself into the history of fashion. I have, however, read and occasionally refer to books - all of them relatively modern books, by the way - on the subject of how to dress well and project a certain type of image that I have from time to time considered in my personal self interest to do. There have been occasions in business where it was necessary for me to project a professional image. Since there are very specific ways of doing so, if I wish to project such an image, it is my responsibility to learn the what those ways are.

I also have a personal interest in the early 1900s decades and I do enjoy the clothes of the period - but if I ever decided to buy some, I would end up having to ask someone such as Vladimir or some of the people on The Fedora Lounge for a great deal of advice.

Furthermore, since we are in a discussion about fashion, I don't think it is at all unreasonable to expect the participants in such a discussion to know what they are talking about and to point it out when another participant does not - which is all I have done in your instance with regard to the proper usage and meaning of ties. Not knowing much about fashion is not a moral issue, But if you are going to venture opinions on something that you don't understand or don't understand as well as you thought you did - well, that is a risk that every one of us takes anytime we venture an opinion, isn't it?

Who cares about what other people think? Well, you should if you hope to engage in value for value trade with them. You should care that what people think of you is based on an accurate reflection of yourself, your intentions and your character. You should very much care if the perception that you are projecting to other people is contrary to the positive values that you have to offer.

If you are in a line of work - let's say you are financial planner - where you are going to be asking people to trust their life savings to you, it is in your self-interest to be able to project an image of success and professionalism.

Lets say that you are a VERY good financial planner. The fact that you show up for a meeting with a potential client driving a hail damaged 10 year old low-end car wearing cut-off shorts, a tie-dyed tee shirt and a gimme cap and sneakers that have been repaired with duct tape - well, the reality of the situation might be that you an outstanding financial planner who simply enjoys being comfortable and has a sense of frugality that makes you reluctant to give up a car that still successfully gets you from point A to point B. But the very understandable perception - a perception that you, by virtue of your choices and actions have helped create - is going to be the exact opposite of someone who is a successful, serious professional.

Maybe it is unfair that prospective clients will prejudge you based on your appearance. Maybe it is unfair that they dismiss you out of hand before you have a chance to show them your proven track record. But the reality is that people DO form evaluations of you based on first impressions - just as I am sure you form certain negative first impressions about certain people who dress in certain ways. There are ways, however, of communicating and projecting values such as professionalism, success, wealth, power, seriousness - through the clothes you wear, the car you drive etc. If so, isn't it in your self-interest to know what they are and how to use them to your advantage as you go about the task of marketing your services to a wider base of customers?

If I wished to be a very successful country music singer - how successful do you think I would be if I refused to wear anything but top hat and tails while I performed and appeared in public? Is it fair that country music fans have certain images that they expect their performers to project? Maybe? But since those expectations are a fact of reality, they are something that one needs to take cognizance of.

Corporations spend millions of dollars a year on advertising to create a certain "image" for their brand so that they can improve their market share. Why on earth would you not want to learn how to create the specific "image" that will enable you to better communicate to others why they should do the things you want them to do - whether it be to give you a job, to agree to go on a date with you, or to buy your product?

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Agreed. However, that is precisely why jeans should not be seen as "hippie clothes," (not unless they have beads on them or bell-bottoms or something) any more than the military uniforms (which they also wore ironically) should be.

That is actually a good point. In the part of country I am from, hippies are NOT held in good regard by most people (unless you happen to be in Austin!) and never were (one of the things that I really like about Texas!). Here, a great many people wear blue jeans with boots, cowboy hats and western shirts. While such dress evokes images of a subculture that I do not particularly relate to on a personal level, it is certainly not a subculture for which I have contempt and it is a subculture which is vastly more noble and rational than the hippies and their heirs who are neither noble or rational in any respect. And, hippies, of course, despise such people.

It is kind of odd that I did not think of western wear when the subject of denim came up. I guess it is because the two groups wear the denim in very different ways and, somehow, the denim looks different too. Unfortunately, I have a hard time describing that difference - but there is a difference.

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It is kind of odd that I did not think of western wear when the subject of denim came up. I guess it is because the two groups wear the denim in very different ways and, somehow, the denim looks different too.

Yes! That was just on the tip of my tongue. I can't quite put my finger on it, but there is just something... wrong... with the denim in hippie jeans. It's not something as obvious as bell-bottoms or rhinestones, and it's in the fabric itself.

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Hello. I'm RationalBiker and I wear blue jeans.

It wasn't always like this, I didn't always wear blue jeans. There was a time when I wore nothing but docker type slacks with t-shirts.

At work, I have no choice what to wear as I am issued a uniform. This works out pretty well as a person's fashion sense is taken out of the picture and people are forced to evaluate the person and their actual ability instead. It's worked well for me as I have been promoted to roughly the top 15-20% of those in my occupation.

At my home I dress for primarily for comfort unless for some special occasion we have guests over, which is rarely. When I go over someone else's house, I'm considerate as to some manner of dress that I think they would find acceptable for the occasion. It's their house and I'm the guest so I think I should afford them the courtesy of attempting to be 'presentable' in their eyes should I desire another invitation (it's a long term self-interest thing). I don't go to many high class events, so I have very little in the way of formal coats, shirts or pants, though I have a few ties. Perhaps I'm a low class person, a working class stiff. If so, so be it. A is A.

Back to jeans. In the past, I was not much of a jeans-wearer. New jeans just weren't comfortable to me and I didn't care much for the break-in time necessary to achieve that proper fit. I had no real objection to their appearance and I think that jeans can look rather nice on folks at times, particularly some women.

But then, I started riding a motorcycle. And then, I started wearing jeans. I learned why many bikers today wear jeans as well. Jeans offer a particular look to a particular style of bike AND they offer decent, reasonably-priced protection against road-rash (and other injuries) for riders. Jeans provide a good heat shield from the radiant heat of a motorcycle engine. Dockers (and other types of slacks) and Harleys (or pretty much any cruiser/bagger for that matter except the Goldwing which is even more of a "geezerbike" than my Ultra(no offense to you wingers in the crowd)) mix as well as oil and water, stylisically speaking and in terms of protection.

Ah, the biker image, the biker style. Quite obviously "counter-culture" and something that will lead our country to ruin. It seems like every time I turn around there is a biker clad in jeans and a denim vest (full of flair as noted in another thread) and they turn out to be just a nice as can be. (Wait a minute, that's not possible, that's not what's being communicated by the biker image. Bikers are outlaws and thugs, you can tell by their manner of dress) Yes, I know, that's what I used to think too. Then I read about a guy named Mike Schwartz. I learned that though the biker style has changed very little, the composition of who bikers are has changed dramatically.

At times, I imagine Mike probably wears some of the best business suits money can buy when he has to attend corporate functions. However, his "around the office" attire consists of jeans and a denim shirt that says ""Voted #1 Dealer Worldwide". Yes my friends, Mike is generally considered the most successful Harley Davidson motorcylce dealer in the world. And he wears jeans, at the office no less. I'm not quite sure how someone who wears jeans in the office can be intelligent, productive and successful, but Mike has managed to pull it off. I mean how can a salesman/manager wear jeans at work and take a dealership from selling 153 bikes a year to selling more than 1,700 bikes a year? Something tells me the secret is not in the jeans.

Funny thing about Mike, he discovered and tapped into a whole market of "bikers" that had previously gone untapped. Before Mike, the vast majority of Harley Dealerships catered to "hard core" bikers, 1%'ers and dedicated motorcycle enthusiasts who generally knew their way around wrench. If you didn't know bikes, you shouldn't be in a Harley dealership. But Mike recognized people like him, successful, mid to upper middle class businessmen who had disposable income and a desire for adventure. Fast forward to today, circa 12 A.M. (Anno Mikeini), when that rough looking denim and leather clad biker you see tooling down the street on that two-wheeled thug-bearing conveyance could just as easily be your banker, your dentist, your doctor or your lawyer. Who would imagine that many of the productive men of society would choose to wear jeans for more than just utilitarian purposes?

Don't they realize the hideous evil they are helping to propagate?

Edited by RationalBiker

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It's sort of ironic that this topic of jeans has come up, because I just recently bought the first pair of jeans I've owned since elementary school (I bought them for work). Previously, I'd thought of jeans as hot, heavy, ugly, and as usually cutting off the circulation in my crotch. But these are a newer brand, and they are actually pretty comfortable, and they do have a certain '40s type of look to them. I've even worn them several times outside of work. : )

As to different colors of jeans-- green, red, pink, etc.. That was actually pretty popular in the 80's.

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Perhaps I'm a low class person, a working class stiff. If so, so be it. A is A.

"Working class" should never be equated with "low class." There are classy working class people and there are the other kind.

Working class people can rarely afford, and those who can are usually not interested in wearing high fashion or formal clothes. But so what? Most working class people used to have their "Sunday best" - and, in doing so, entered into the realm of formal clothes. If one does not go to church or does not dress for it, they may not even have a need for such clothes. They can still dress with style and flair in the sort of clothes they do wear. Context is everything.

Yes my friends, Mike is generally considered the most successful Harley Davidson motorcylce dealer in the world. And he wears jeans, at the office no less. I'm not quite sure how someone who wears jeans in the office can be intelligent, productive and successful, but Mike has managed to pull it off. I mean how can a salesman/manager wear jeans at work and take a dealership from selling 153 bikes a year to selling more than 1,700 bikes a year? Something tells me the secret is not in the jeans.

The secret may not be in the jeans - but if he were to wear $2,000 tailored suits when he met with his clients, do you really think that their reaction would be particularly positive? Again, context is everything. In such a business, formal clothes would be a dis value

Fast forward to today, circa 12 A.M. (Anno Mikeini), when that rough looking denim and leather clad biker you see tooling down the street on that two-wheeled thug-bearing conveyance could just as easily be your banker, your dentist, your doctor or your lawyer. Who would imagine that many of the productive men of society would choose to wear jeans for more than just utilitarian purposes?

Don't they realize the hideous evil they are helping to propagate?

I suspect that there has been a great deal of counterculture influence on "biker culture." It is not something that I can relate to in any way personally. Nor would I even want to ride a bike - with the idiots on the road it is already scary enough riding in a more substantial vehicle. But I can grasp in an abstract sense why people enjoy riding motorcycles.

As to the subcultural aspects of it - well, just because someone has been influenced by the counterculture does not mean that they endorse it or even see the connection to it. Everyone alive today in Western culture has been influenced by it in some way or another, I suspect.

A great deal of what one feels comfortable with culturally is based on what one has been exposed to. It is entirely to be expected that a great many people today - including perfectly moral and rational people - feel comfortable with aspects of the counterculture. That is the context into which they were born and raised. Other people - such as myself when I was a kid - rebel against the "conventional wisdom" of the day. I discovered and became comfortable with at an early age an era that was very much different than the counterculture. I would be lying if I didn't say that I consider that era to be vastly superior in many important respects. I do look down on a great many of the so-called "values" of the post counterculture world. But I don't look down on someone merely because he has been influenced by them. I have had people in the past who worked for me who lived very odd lifestyles and wore very wierd items of clothing - nose rings, you name it. They were very productive people and I had great rapport with them. People are individuals and must be judged accordingly.

My big point is that a world which was vastly different from the post counterculture world that most people today take for granted and as the given did once exist not so long ago - a world that the popular culture and the media has often distorted and ignored. Many people alive today have very little idea what it was all about. I do know what it was about. And my discovery of it as a child made me feel like I had discovered some wonderful, lost civilization, which, in a sense, I had. And, in my eagerness and excitement to share my discovery with others - well, I was utterly baffled by the indifference and, in some cases, ridicule and hostility I was met with. I have never lost that need and desire to let other people know about that discovery. Thankfully, the culture has improved since then and the reaction I receive is frequently positive.

I will, of course, never actually live in that world. But I always like what Ayn Rand said about fighting for the future: those who fight for it live in it today. And so is the case in my mini-crusade to bring the world of the early 1900s to the attention of deserving moderns: by fighting to keep the memory and the forgotten spirit of that world alive, in a way, I am living in it today. And, because nihilism, and therefore the counterculture and its aftermath, is nothing but a dead end into nothingness, I suspect that by fighting for the values of the past, I am, in a way, fighting for the values which will eventually lead us to a better future. I sure hope so.

If I took it personally every time somebody trashed some aspect of the pre-counterculture world that I value so much - well, I would be spending my entire life feeling insulted.

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Again, context is everything.

I agree, wholeheartedly in fact.

What I have difficulty understanding what appears to me to be such a great disdain you have for jeans and your "rejection of the convention of jeans as a fashion statement". However, it appears you go on after that to say that there are certain contexts in which jeans are fashionable and not simply bound to their original purpose.

I'll admit that perhaps I misunderstand what you are trying to say about jeans, but whether you reject that convention or not, it's quite definitely true that jeans are a fashion statement in certain contexts, and not all of those contexts are bad. They do not need to be inextricably tied to the counter-culture for which you have such ire.

Past that, your choice not to wear them is obviously yours to make.

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