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To many coats are falling into the sports coat category which really are not sports coats. Some tailors say that the hacking coat really is not a sports coat, and others say it is, in a round about way. Tweed and leather buttons make a sports coat minus slanted pockets. Smooth cloth is outside the sports coat relm. As is business suit pattern. Today many sports coats use a business coat pattern. The rules change.

Blazers have gone through a number of rule changes, too. The English have play cricket with white blazers that don't always include metal buttons. American barber shop quartets have colorful blazers. School blazers are unique, based upon school colors. If you read old tailoring books blazers were not finely made coats. Then in the 1940s customers started asking for them made up much finer. American blazers hasn't followed the rules of Britain. We on this side of the pond have made our own rules. And, they change too, as time goes by. Some years ago, one person who used to write here, had a summer outdoor afternoon dinner party blazer made of white and black striped cotton with black braiding along its edges, something that was common maybe a 100 years ago (probably further back). There are many examples in history of blazers that are not navy blue with metal brass buttons (brass doesn't rust, don't deteriorate in other ways, and good for salt water use. Which is why they are used for boating and ships clothing).
 

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I actually think things are coming around. You see lots of young men wearing bow or long ties, granted, they are wearing them with skinny suits or jeans.

I work somewhere where over twenty years or so, we have phased out a great deal of manual labor. While jeans and sweatpants are still the norm in one part of the comapny, people get less dirty from work as time goes on. People are actually changing from work clothing, to at the end of their shift, putting on clothing the would wear out. Sure, it's not like our workers take off their chemical stained clothing and put on suits, but when the company has a social event, you often see people wearing their version of dress clothing.

I think over the next little while, as automation and hands free work becomes more common, we will see a great deal of people dressing, not just for work, but for play. I go to work wearing a suit and waistcoat, then when I get home, I put on a different set of clothing, usually a sweater, sometimes a blazer and more casual pants. As it's cold up here, I choose to buy clothing which is both attractive, but also practical. I could go put on my technical clothing which I use for hiking and backpacking, but I choose to buy clothing I like to wear, and which I would be comfortable wearing in all situations. My older clothing, as it gets worn out occupies a place in my closet where it becomes technical clothing. For example, an old tweed jacket or a safari jacket suddenly becomes an outer layer for summertime adventures. If I get some mud on it, not a big deal. And because it's worn out, I don't feel bad tossing it if it gets too dirty (as dry cleaning a jacket worth less than the cost of dry cleaning is illogical).

How will people react to the older generations wearing suits and ties over the next fifty years? I'd honestly figure that, there will be parts of dressing up that will become forgotten. I think the trend of buying "fashion forward" shoes and wearing onesies, will be defeated. But people will start discovering that their clothing should be and can be worn more than once, over many seasons and years.

I have a cousin who works a blue collar job. He will put on a suit every chance he gets. He never goes to a dinner or family function wearing his work clothing. He even owns, but doesn't understand the pedigree of spectator shoes. His brother works high end service positions, and he wears a suit too, changing from his work suit to his play suit.

These cousins of mine are 30-something. I suppose if I ever have children, they will grow up with similar tastes to my own, rebelling perhaps by wearing long skinny ties, or wearing combat boots with their suits. We all did it, we all enjoyed rebelling, but over the long run, especially in the North American culture, we will enjoy wearing a timeless uniform.

Basically, the suit and dress clothing will not be gone, they might change in where you wear it, but people, as they get less dirty and more affluent, will start wearing clothing which is practical, and this practicality includes dressy menswear.

Of course, I saw a trio of guys at the movies the other day. They were all wearing pink onesies. Maybe not everybody is safe.

C.
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
Thanks all for your replies!

My wife and I made our holiday trip to the Mall of America yesterday. Fun, but dispiriting to see so many, and so many our age, in sloppy casual; Vikings sweatshirts, big white canoe tennis shoes, and on and on. Saw one gentleman only at Crave restaurant (other then me) wearing a sport coat.

I could almost bear the uber casual if it at least fit.
 

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Ever since I started dressing better, my friends now call me "grandpa." And I'm only mid-40's. But, to most people below 40, if you're dressing up beyond having to for work, then they look at you strangely. And I'm talking about something as simple as chinos and an OCBD. For most of them, dressing up means putting on your nice jeans and tshirt. They ask my why I'm so dressed up all the time. I tell them I'm actually quite comfortable. And keep in mind, I'm not really that dressed up. Only in comparison to them. As much as all of us like finer clothes, the majority of the young people getting older are quite fine with very casual clothes no matter what setting they're in.
 

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I actually think things are coming around...I have a cousin who works a blue collar job. He will put on a suit every chance he gets. He never goes to a dinner or family function wearing his work clothing...His brother works high end service positions, and he wears a suit too...These cousins of mine are 30-something...
Your whole posting is very sensible, but the points I have quoted stand out. In Britain there are signs that this is happening as well in the age-group you mention and among still younger men. In my experience, it's those in the 50s who seem to resent classical/traditional dressing the most. But in any case, I don't think that this trend has gone quite so far in the UK as in the situations that mfreeman 73 mentions.
 

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Ever since I started dressing better, my friends now call me "grandpa." And I'm only mid-40's. But, to most people below 40, if you're dressing up beyond having to for work, then they look at you strangely. And I'm talking about something as simple as chinos and an OCBD. For most of them, dressing up means putting on your nice jeans and tshirt. They ask my why I'm so dressed up all the time. I tell them I'm actually quite comfortable. And keep in mind, I'm not really that dressed up. Only in comparison to them. As much as all of us like finer clothes, the majority of the young people getting older are quite fine with very casual clothes no matter what setting they're in.
I think this is largely dependent on who you hang around. Since I'm an attorney, it follows that most of my friends are attorneys, and tend to not dress like bums even on a weekend at a party to watch a game. Maybe lawyers and investment bankers are the last holdouts here?

Any time I have ever received an odd comment for being dressed nicer than the usual shlub, my response is usually "hey, someone's got to bring a little class into this place". It tends to work.
 

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Ever since I started dressing better, my friends now call me "grandpa." And I'm only mid-40's. But, to most people below 40, if you're dressing up beyond having to for work, then they look at you strangely. And I'm talking about something as simple as chinos and an OCBD. For most of them, dressing up means putting on your nice jeans and tshirt. They ask my why I'm so dressed up all the time. I tell them I'm actually quite comfortable. And keep in mind, I'm not really that dressed up. Only in comparison to them. As much as all of us like finer clothes, the majority of the young people getting older are quite fine with very casual clothes no matter what setting they're in.
First, IMO almost invariably when they're calling you "grandpa" it's a cover for a degree of envy.

Second, over the years (and I've made this observation before, here), I've observed that urban young black men will acknowledge individual style even if it's not their style (and is, indeed, far from it). When you get nods of approval for your DB suit from blinged up young men wearing ultra-baggy jeans and outsized leather jackets, you know that the barbarians are not quite as close to the gates as you thought.
 

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Well, a number of you have inspired me to think perhaps, just perhaps, all is not lost; thank you all for your thoughtful comments!

For the record, I almost 62, and was raised (and dressed) in NY by Ivy-league parents. Once I got over the influences of the late 60's, I began to come back to dressing as I was raised. As I get older, I seem to be coming more and more "full circle." I realize, of course, this is/was not everyone's situation...
 

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There will always be people who appreciate fine clothing. For most this is a luxury that has no practical purpose. Temperature controlled buildings and transportation has eliminated the practical need for much of our clothing and global warming as well as migration to warmer climates has furthered this trend. I think you will see a continued loss of brick and mortar men's stores. BB/JAB/MW are all at risk over the next 10 years. Even higher end stores like Zegna and the like are at risk. There will be consolidation but a few flagships will remain. My guess is Europe and China will continue to create demand for higher end products made of better fabrics. It's not like human kind will suddenly stop appreciating the feel of fine fabrics - the hand of beautiful wools and silks - more just the average American will have no interest in wearing them.
Japan and Russia will also continue to create demand for higher end products made of better fabrics.
 

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Second, over the years (and I've made this observation before, here), I've observed that urban young black men will acknowledge individual style even if it's not their style (and is, indeed, far from it). When you get nods of approval for your DB suit from blinged up young men wearing ultra-baggy jeans and outsized leather jackets, you know that the barbarians are not quite as close to the gates as you thought.
It's funny you mention this! Probably the most common source of unsolicited compliments I get about my dress is from young black men. Usually a compliment about shoes, eyeglass frames, or my watch, but sometimes about the whole outfit. I've mostly attributed it to statistical anomaly (I live in Atlanta, which has a pretty sizable black population), but I suppose there's some truth to the popular conception that it's a style-conscious group.

DH
 

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Ever since I started dressing better, my friends now call me "grandpa." And I'm only mid-40's. But, to most people below 40, if you're dressing up beyond having to for work, then they look at you strangely. And I'm talking about something as simple as chinos and an OCBD. For most of them, dressing up means putting on your nice jeans and tshirt. They ask my why I'm so dressed up all the time. I tell them I'm actually quite comfortable. And keep in mind, I'm not really that dressed up. Only in comparison to them. As much as all of us like finer clothes, the majority of the young people getting older are quite fine with very casual clothes no matter what setting they're in.
Huh. I can't say I've ever experienced this, but it could be a regional thing. Even among the hyper-slovenly folks I know (IT people), I'm just a guy who dresses well.

I think attitude has a lot to do with it - people who know me would *expect* me to dress well, simply because I'm pretty particular about things; but it's a respected - not admonished - trait.

Maybe you have rather suddenly started dressing better? I can see a group of schlubs accustomed to hanging out with one another, and then one of them starts improving his dress, and this resulting in a bit of ribbing? Otherwise, did they not see how you were dressed when you first met? Just odd to think of grown men poking fun at a colleague for his standards of dress.

DH
 

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I deal with it a bit at church. I’m the only guy in his 30s (actually, I believe within the entire contemporary service) whom wears a sport coat/blazer/suit. They make comments, in good fun, but they always end the ribbing with a compliment.


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I deal with it a bit at church. I'm the only guy in his 30s (actually, I believe within the entire contemporary service) whom wears a sport coat/blazer/suit. They make comments, in good fun, but they always end the ribbing with a compliment.

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When a succession of preachers stopped wearing suits and french cuffs, swapping these for jeans and untucked OCBD shirts, my faith was shaken. When "praise music" replaced the old standards, I cashed in my membership as a Southern Baptist and fled the country.

As we are all aware, Jesus wore a tie. He also does not want to be my boyfriend.

Cheers,

BSR
 

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When a succession of preachers stopped wearing suits and french cuffs, swapping these for jeans and untucked OCBD shirts, my faith was shaken. When "praise music" replaced the old standards, I cashed in my membership as a Southern Baptist and fled the country.

As we are all aware, Jesus wore a tie. He also does not want to be my boyfriend.

Cheers,

BSR
I'm not crazy about bongo drums and git-tars in church either.
 

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When a succession of preachers stopped wearing suits and french cuffs, swapping these for jeans and untucked OCBD shirts, my faith was shaken. When "praise music" replaced the old standards, I cashed in my membership as a Southern Baptist and fled the country.

As we are all aware, Jesus wore a tie. He also does not want to be my boyfriend.

Cheers,

BSR
It's funny you say that. I happen to be Southern Baptist. I play git-tar in the evil praise band. Our pastor does not wear suits, but he does wear a shirt and tie for the contemporary service and dons a jacket for the traditional service-that way the old folk don't have a premature meeting with our Lord and Savior.

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I completely understand the argument that God doesn't care what you wear, etc. And I agree with it, but I also think it's off point.

Dressing up for certain occasions is not (or should not be) about pride or - even worse - showing up others, but it is a way for a culture to say "this is an important event / this we respect."

So, IMHO, dressing for church is not some philosophical incongruity with Jesus' poverty (I've heard that one), but it is a way for a society to mark the specialness of going to church.

It signals to the younger members that this institution is important and it - even when we are (grumbling sometimes) putting on a suit - reminds the adults that there's a significance to going to church.

This holds - maybe with less theological meaning - for school and work and fine restaurants, etc. When we (used to) dress up for these places we were saying - as a culture / a society, "these are important institutions and activities and we reflect that by dressing in a serious and appropriate way."

And - in a nice restaurant, for example - we are saying to each other that we respect you (the other diners) and are dressing to keep the environment attractive for all. It used be thought disrespectful to dress sloppily in places where nice dress was expected.

Of course, any kind and well-intentioned society would never look down on anyone unable to afford - or not knowledgable in how - to dress for, say, church. A kind society welcomes them with open arms and, hopefully and respectfully, has practices and institutions to help those in need.

To be sure, we can live fine the way were are today where we have said, effectively, "dress how you want / your individual taste and comfort are paramount." But it is, IMHO, a sign of selfishness or, at least, self-centeredness where we don't want to voluntarily conform to a set of social norms that helps signal to all the importance of certain culture institutions and practices and that shows respect to all who attend.

I'm not a scold. This is our society today - the do-what-you-want society - and, my guess, if we take other things seriously, we'll be fine. But the societal norm around dress that proceeded ours wasn't simply for fussiness; it was a standard to acknowledge and reinforce our commitment and respect for certain institutions and practices - and for each other. It also served to educate the young and those who wanted to stray that these things mattered to the larger community.

Today, we've, essentially, said "this isn't necessary anymore." We've said - by dropping almost all standards for dress - that "we don't need these cultural signposts and guardrails." We've said that "arrant individual expression is more important than the social signaling of culturally accepted dress codes." We'll see over time how this all works out.
 

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^^
A well structured and logical assessment of a troubling issue for many of us. Thank you, my friend, for presenting it perfectly. As for me, my Mama insisted that I wear a coat and tie to Church when I was not much more than a toddler and I have done so for more than six decades. I think it may be an ingrained habit? These days, when the wife and I pass through the doors leading into the Sanctuary each Sunday morning, I am one of perhaps two or three people out wearing a coat and tie...and that's OK. After all, I'm not dressing for the crowd!

Thanks again for a great post.:)
 

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The original comment in this post strikes close to me and is something that I have given much thought. I had to conclude, for myself, that I do not care much what others think of how I dress. I have no restrictions as to how I dress for work. Socially, I could wear shorts and no shirt without raising suspicion in my part of the South. I could also just as easily wear Gap and the Banana Republic and only be guilty of being the “Old Guy” trying to look young. Since I am 40 years old and back in college, I could default to sneakers, jeans, and a hoodie without being out of place. I tried all of those in the two years after my divorce but none of those are me, nor do I feel comfortable in those clothes.

I wear what I wear because it feels and looks good on me. For a while, it was jeans, boots, and a polo. Last year I added chinos into the rotation followed by OCBDs, better trousers, and finally a few sport coats. Now, most days I wear boots or loafers, jeans, sports shirt, and a sport coat. I own two suits, one for weddings and another for funerals. But, suits aren’t practical for me. If they become necessary, I can change that.

Do I feel like I am better than anyone else? No. Do I sometimes think I am overdressed and “out of place”? I did for a while, but I finally reached that point in my life that I need to live for myself and not someone else. If others feel like I’m “dressing up” or putting on airs, that isn’t my problem.

What I wear now allows me to be comfortable while being able to do anything I want to do. If I need to meet with a client, I do not feel underdressed. If I need to roll up my sleeves and change a tire, I can. If I need to help a neighbor out chasing a cow, I have barn boots in the trunk of the car. I will probably never reach the levels of style most aspire to on this site, nor do I care to, because it does not suit me.

For once in my life, I am comfortable in my clothes.
 
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