Bringin’ Fancy Back

May 5, 2021

I am asking you for a favor- a big one- but it’s not too much and it’s not too hard. You might even enjoy it. But don’t do it for me, though I am begging you. Do this for your colleagues. Do it for your neighbors and friends, but mostly do it for yourself. Do it for anyone you like…but can you please bring fancy back? 

A global pandemic was just the excuse everyone needed to embrace the soft pant lifestyle*. Can’t go to school? Virtual soft pant day. Can’t go out to eat? Grubhub and soft pants. Can’t go to the movies? Netflix and soft pants. Zoom meetings all day? Business casual on top, soft pants on the bottom. Even with gyms closed, everyone is always dressed for the gym. Everyone, it seems, is ready at a moment’s notice to jump into a game of pick-up basketball. No one will be be caught off guard if Rocky Balboa jogs past looking for a training buddy. 

I get it, comfort is, well, comfortable. People have been home a lot recently and so there wasn’t much reason to get dressed up. But this is starting to change. The weather is improving significantly here in Western Pennsylvania and new case numbers are dropping. People are going back out again. I am finally seeing people at restaurants and the sidewalks are filling up. 

It is delightful to see people out and about again, like the old days, but maybe, just maybe, could we leave the pandemic pants at home? 

We have been cooped up for a year in our athleisure and it’s time to get back out there, but can we do it with a little style? Let’s show everyone how much we appreciate one another by putting on pants that don’t have any elastic at the waistband. Anyone? Anyone…? 

Before you all freak out and resort to calling me some sort of chino elitist for wanting people to look nice, let me make my case.

  • Dressing nice makes you feel nice. When you put on better clothes, you feel better about yourself and that matters. We should all feel better about ourselves. Who doesn’t benefit from a little boost to their self-esteem and self-confidence? 
  • How you dress affects how people treat you. People that dress nice typically get preferential treatment. You are more likely to get a good table, you’ll have a better chance getting an upgrade at a hotel, you might even get bumped to first class where the champagne flows like wine. Generally people you encounter will treat you better because they recognize you are a person with dignity and demand to be treated as such.
  • Your attire reflects how you feel about a place and that message matters. If you go to your job dressed like you just rolled out of bed, you are telling your boss you don’t care about your work. If you go into the nicest restaurant in town wearing your middle school sweat pants, you are signaling to that restaurant owner, that you don’t think very much of their business. It’s an insult when people role into nice places dressed like they just got done with wrestling practice. A good friend of mine is a former judge, and he wouldn’t see anyone that was wearing shorts in court, because it was an insult to the establishment.

I am not suggesting you should give up your “Got Game” mesh shorts, but what if you saved them for the court? What if we started dressing more functionally. Gym clothes to the gym and grown-up clothes for the restaurant and work and social activities. 

Wouldn’t it be great to bounce back from our year in solitude by coming out in style? This is what happened back in the 1920’s, and that is why they were roaring! We could do it again for the 2020’s. Imagine spending that stimmy on some fresh new gear for strutting about town. Won’t it feel good to jump back into society and show how much you appreciate it by rocking some shoes without velcro? 

How we present ourselves isn’t just personal, it’s about recognizing our surroundings and the people we share them with. Beautiful environments should compel us to dress in a manner that honors the architecture and craftsmanship. Whether it’s a civic building, a house of worship, a restaurant, or just an amazing street, we should show off our appreciation by returning the favor of our own appearance. 

Last time, I wrote something like this, I awoke the Activewear Army as they tried to call me out for being elitist, but I call bullshit. Dressing nice does not cost any more money. I have been to stores and have purchased both gym clothes and work clothes. They cost the same. A button-up shirt and moisture wicking kickball shirt run the same amount. A pair of chinos cost pretty much the same as a pair of high tech bowling shorts as well. Nice clothes don’t necessarily have to cost more. In fact, I don’t own a single piece of clothing that costs as much as my daughter’s leggings. 

Actually, it’s pretty messed up to suggest that only people with money can dress nice. It isn’t just messed up, it’s false. I see loads of bougie people who appear to be having lunch during their half-time break. There are plenty of people with lesser means who also know the value of appearances and invest their hard earned dollars in dressing in a manner that will help them climb social and professional ladders.  Dressing nice has nothing to do with money, it’s about pride and dignity and while money helps acquire nice things, it is certainly not the determining factor for wardrobe preferences. Anyone can have pride and anyone can have dignity. It is about how you carry yourself, how you choose to present yourself, and the decisions you make about the life you lead.

Your appearance doesn’t make you who you are, but it is how 99% of people that encounter you will determine who you are. Because we all judge books by their cover, that is how we navigate the world and you can like it or hate it, but you might as well accept it. 

Think about the last time you snazzed it up. Remember the feeling of strolling down the street in your best suit or your favorite dress? Did you feel handsome, fit, beautiful? I bet you felt sophisticated and classy. Good, you should. That great feeling is what we all need more of in our lives. If everyone put in a little more effort, we could all experience those feelings more often. What could possibly be the downside to everyone feeling better about themselves? 

So as we resume some semblance of normal life, let’s all work to bring fancy back. We have been told for too long that we don’t deserve nice things. That cheap housing, or cheap meals or cheap civic buildings are all that we deserve and we need to learn to live with them, but that’s pure garbage. There was no more money in the 1920’s than there is today, there were just different priorities. We can still have nice buildings and nice blocks and fancy restaurants and swanky parties and we can all still dress like going out in public is an event, because after a year being stuck at home, it truly is. 


A Crisis of Class (The Curse of Softpants)

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