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Old 10-11-2012, 04:11 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: NY but not NYC
Posts: 29,361
The simple answer is that most western countries used to have a distinct class system in which your mode of dress indicated your place in that system. It worked because the lower classes were so large a piece of the system, and the upper classes controlled the image-making machinery.

WWII broke that class system. The middle class grew to astounding size in the U.S. Their values and their money came to dominate the culture. It took time. The 50s still saw dressing up for most occasions, but the 60s and 70s made a huge rise in leisure time and leisure activities possible by the leap in disposable income and most people started to prefer keeping that leisure dress on a regular basis. Having everybody dress alike was an affirmation of the strength of the middle class. It's the same force that turned a college degree from a luxury earned by 5% of the population to a mandated standard requiring 60% of the population to attend some college. White collar jobs no longer stood out. They were the norm. You didn't need to dress up to prove you were special. It's taken for granted.

Most of us old enough to remember when you had to wear a coat and tie to work every day don't miss those times at all. Suits are awful: expensive, uncomfortable, hard to maintain, and unflattering on most figures. And then you had to add ties, shoes, dress shirts, and all the paraphernalia that goes with them. Forget it. I've worn jeans of some color almost every single day since I left the formal office 22 years ago. The casual culture is as wonderful a part of the new modern world as acceptance for minorities is. You're not going to get me to go back on either one.