Clash of the Titans LXXXIV: Dressing Up

June 6, 2008, 10:00 am; posted by
Filed under Chloe, Debate, Job  | 4 Comments

In this corner, opposing dressing up, is Job!

And in this corner, in favor of it, is Chloe!

I will have my own policies
I will sleep with a clear conscience
I will sleep in peace

— Sinead O’Connor, Emperor’s New Clothes

Dressing up is a fact of American life. Social, religious and vocational pressures demand conformity and attention to dress in varying degrees. We have terms to assess the severity of these demands: black-tie, business casual, country formal, etc. This is unavoidable, unless you endeavor to be a pariah, in which case consciously dressing down is as much a conformity as consciously dressing up.

But the hardest crease for me to iron out of this societal doctrine is the thought that dressing up is an attempt to separate one’s self, one’s workplace or one’s church from its human surroundings: to suddenly appear as more than we actually are. In short, to be something we aren’t.

I am a Seabee in the Navy Reserves, and as you might imagine, I have several uniforms that I must wear at times. If you speak to members of the military about their uniforms, the consensus would be that we wear our uniforms with pride and the feeling of having earned them. Furthermore, most would agree that when we wear them together, we represent something far greater than ourselves as individuals.

The same can not be said of the uniform of modern fashion — a constant and ceaseless competition, an exercise in poor taste and inadequacy. Dressing up has become increasingly uncomfortable, inefficient, impractical and at times blatantly immoral — if not through the exposure or enhancement of flesh, then by the consuming, metastasized materialism that boils inside those dedicated to looking “good.”

If your job has a dress code, then of course you must abide. If you need a false confidence to get you through the day and curry the favor of those shallow enough to reward your efforts at color coordination, then of course you must abide. But if you can dress practically, cleanly and cheaply while losing no sleep . . . then you should abide that with equal fervence.

I like to look pretty. I wear skirts and high heels and makeup and jewelry. I spend a lot of time getting ready, even if all I\’m doing that day is working a ten-hour shift at the restaurant. My reasons have more to do with the way I feel about myself than they do with the way others treat me, but I have noticed a big difference when I look nice.

Yes, sometimes I get unwanted attention from men (see “The Proper Way to Treat Your Waitress” from last summer), but they are never crude or inappropriate. And yes, sometimes people are still rude or impatient with me. But when it comes down to it, when I dress up, I get more respect.

Why is that? Well, when we see a poorly-dressed person, certain stereotypes tend to pop into our heads: they don\’t care about themselves, so why should we care about them? Or perhaps they\’re lazy, they\’re bums, they don\’t take care of themselves.

But when we see well-dressed people, we think of wealth and prosperity. We assume they\’ve worked hard to get where they are, and that they care about themselves. These associations make us relate more positively to them, and so we give them more respect.

Let me give you an example straight from my opponent\’s mouth. When Job came to visit Steve, he was dressed in his Navy uniform. The attendant at the toll booth saw his outfit and gave Job a significant discount on his toll. Job has found that when he dresses up in his uniform, he not only gets more respect, he also gets a lot of freebies and discounts.

Whatever Job may say, even he has found that dressing up is beneficial.



4 Comments to “Clash of the Titans LXXXIV: Dressing Up”

  1. Djere on June 6th, 2008 11:38 pm

    I abide by a simple dress code: clean and covered.

    Oh, and flip flops go with everything, period.

  2. Chloe on June 7th, 2008 2:41 pm

    Job, you can dress nicely and cheaply. I get most of my stuff at thrift stores, and I can’t remember the last time I spent more than $20 bucks on any piece of clothing (and that was painful).

  3. Job on June 15th, 2008 9:31 am

    I agree, Chloe, but you must admit that for your gender and generation you are the exception to the rule.

  4. Djere on June 22nd, 2008 8:38 pm

    I disagree. Clothes are getting more expensive, but you only need several great pieces to make a lot of really great outfits. It just takes some careful shopping and putting effort into looking your best.

    ~ Djere’s wife

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