Well...here goes... [Pride in How One Dresses]

All right. Um…how do I say this? All right. I was watching the “Donna Reed Show” on YouTube. (For those of you who don’t know, the Donna Reed Show ran from 1958 to 1966.)

I was simply taken aback. I was amazed at the (for lack of a better word) dignified way people dressed back then. (I don’t think dignified is the best word here but it’s the best I could really come up with.)

Not just the ladies like Donna with the neat hairdo and the cute dress, but the men like Alex too. The well pressed suits when you went to the office, the neatly combed hair, the shined shoes, and not to mention the dapper fedora.

This sort of got me thinking, “What happened to that? Back then, you dressed like you actually cared how you looked.” I’m sure that I’m not the only one who thinks this, and I am fully aware there are people who still do take pride in their appearance. I just feel like it’s not as prevalent in the culture as it once was. Anyone else feel this way? What could be done to change that, if anything? (Civil responses, please. I’m new here.)

WAG, Back then, the novelty of television was still fresh, so people thought of it as a special occasion. Same with flying. But once the novelty worn off, people stopped caring as much.

Charlie Thomas, welcome to the Straight Dope. We ask that users provide descriptive titles to their threads, so I’m going to edit this one for you.

Look at old photos of baseball games and you’ll see men wearing hats and at least sports jackets if not suits.

In the 1950s middle and upper class ladies never went out of the house unless they were wearing dresses (or blouses and skirts). Ladies who worked in factories *might *be wearing slacks.

I don’t understand this comment. Are you saying that the way the people dressed on shows like The Donna Reed Show was not realistic, but was a special way of dressing because TV was a fairly new medium?

Um…the mode of dress that the OP refers to was not just seen on TV. People ACTUALLY dressed that way. Have you watched Mad Men? People wore those clothes out and about and to work.

At my all-female college (I graduated in 1970) women were not permitted to wear any kind of slacks, pants, trousers, or jeans ANYWHERE on the campus except in their rooms, in the gym, or on the playing field. I remember going to a restaurant one night around 1973, and the guy I was with was in jeans. At the door, a man had a flashlight and shined it on my date. We were turned away because the restaurant had a dress code and jeans were not allowed. Restaurants would loan a guy a jacket and tie so he could be admitted.

I’m not making this up.

Well…television outfits do reflect the fashions of its time. I figured that Donna and Alex were simply reflecting the fashions of their time. I see the same phenomenon in modern shows. (I’m just pointing this out for comparison.)

I just wish that taking pride in your appearance was…socially important, I guess is the term? (Maybe?) Especially if you worked in a white-collar occupation or an occupation that demanded looking good. Again, I feel that today, it’s just vanished. Or something changed…

Thanks. I’m new, and didn’t know how to word it.

My question is, though, what happened? What changed? I mean, I have no intent of going back to the late 50s-early 60s in a DeLorean or anything, but taking pride in one’s appearance used to be important. It could be done today just as back then, but it seems as if people stopped caring.

Yes, that’s true. They dressed on the show the way people in real life dressed at that time.

I completely agree. I attend a local community college and anything goes in the clothing department-- including halter tops, pajama bottoms, ripped and torn jeans, pants barely hanging on a guy’s butt… it’s a mystery to me.

I’m unsurprised. I’ve seen morons protest states and cities fining people for wearing their pants too low. It should just be common sense that nobody wants to see their underwear! I’m in disbelief.

The stuff you mentioned, plus the saggy pants, warrants this: :smack::smack::smack::smack::smack:

It was a much more formal society back then, and in a lot of ways it sucked.

Want to lay around in casual, comfortable clothes while you’re at home? Sorry, but you’re lower class scum. Proper members of society shouldn’t associate with you. You MUST dress properly, you know.

Want to go on a date with someone? You can’t just ask her out, you uncultured, low class, heathen. Proper society has rules, you know. You need to follow them.

And what are you doing just barging in on our conversation here? Gosh, you’re rude. Don’t you know you have to make friends with someone first, then have them formally introduce you to our group? Jeez, this new Charlie guy is rude. I don’t think we should talk to him.

(I’m kidding about you being rude, of course)

So yeah, it was a pain. You had to dress right and look right and do the right things or you were looked down upon. Individuality was right out. That’s why there was such a backlash against it all in the counter-culture movement of the 60s and 70s. It wasn’t just standing up to authority, it was taking a stand against being forced to conform, to be able to relax when you want to, to be able to be interested in things that weren’t on anyone’s “approved” list. You want to date someone? You just ask them out on a date. Simple. None of this jumping through hoops just to conform to society’s rules. And no more of this silly dressing up just because society expects you to dress up. Wear whatever you want to wear.

Please, please, please, let’s not go back to the old way.

Oh, and welcome to the SDMB. :slight_smile:

I agree that people dress much more casually today, but I don’t think that dressing more causally necessarily means people are not taking pride in their appearance. I was wearing jeans, a plaid shirt and Dr. Martens to run errands today, but I still made sure what I was wearing was clean and neat and my hair was brushed and I had on make up. I am not about to put on a dress to go to Target, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care about how I look.

I also agree that a greater percentage of people don’t care how they are dressed. I’m not sure how this part came to be. I don’t understand dressing like a slob in public short of being sick and going to the drugstore.

Also, Welcome to the Straight Dope!

Well, one, anyone who was around back then will tell you that you only dressed up to go out and about. As in out of the house. Anyone with sense would know that you didn’t lounge around your house or your backyard in your work suit.

Two, there is a proper way to ask them. You don’t just march up to them military style with loud annoying music in the background and command them to go out with you. If you’re gonna go on an actual date with a girl, you should look presentable, and dressing like a slob will embarrass the poor girl and will guarantee you a spot on her list of “Worst Dates Ever.” I’m perfectly on board with being able to relax and let loose, as I’m sure 100 percent of sane people are.

However, like anything, there is a time and a place for it. Work is not one of those places. On a date with a girl can be one of those times and places if you can do so without looking like a mannerless pig.

Oh, and it’s good to be here. :slight_smile:

I wasn’t trying to associate “casual” with “no pride in appearance.” I was going after “casual during social situations where inappropriate.”

I was around back then. Well, I was the younger generation that was fighting against the establishment, I suppose.

You didn’t wear a suit around the house, but you had to dress nicely. Lounging around in old ratty clothes just wasn’t proper (according to the older generation). And you did dress for dinner. You also dressed for when company came over. It wasn’t only for when you went out.

When company came over, the woman of the house was expected to be a proper hostess, serving drinks and snacks and whatever.

My grandmother and everyone else her age used to look at us with strong disapproval when we wore ratty jeans around the house when company was over and we didn’t follow all of the old rules. All the old folks used to say that kids these days have no respect.

I look back on pictures of me from the 70s and I have two thoughts. The first is geez, that’s an afro, I sure hope that never comes back in style (and I was a skinny white kid). And my second thought, now that I’m an old bald fat guy, is that it was nice to be skinny and nice to have hair.

Maybe it is because I was a part of that generation, but I’ve always hated rules and formality. As far as work goes, it used to be that engineers always wore the “engineer’s uniform”. Look at old Dilbert cartoons and you’ll know what I mean. It’s dress slacks, a plain dress shirt (often short sleeved), and a tie, no jacket. Lately it’s become a lot less formal, but I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt or sweatshirt back when the engineer’s uniform was common. I wore dress pants to work one day (because we had customers in the building and the CEO made a point of stopping by my office the day before and telling me I had to wear dress pants, so I had to go out and buy a pair) and one of the managers was so shocked at seeing me in dress clothes that she took my picture.

I like being comfortable at work.

Don’t make the mistake of judging 1950s and '60s fashions according to the standards of 2016. Alex wore.a.suit and fedora because that’s what middle-class professional men of his time wore. His was clean and pressed because Carl Betz had a wardrobe mistress to make sure that it was. If you look at actual photos of real men of the time, you’ll notice ill-fitting, wrinkled, or slightly stained clothes, just as you would today.

You’re, I think, impressed by the wearing of a suit, since nowadays, a suit is worn either by men in high-status, upper-middle-class professions (doctors, lawyers, politicians, bankers), or on special occasions (weddings, religious ceremonies, funerals). But the suits that Robert Young and Carl Betz and Hugh Beaumont wore, started out as sportswear, suitable for playing golf or shooting in the country. Their fathers would have worn stiff collars and Homburg hats in public, and their grandfathers white tie, tails, and toppers. John F. Kennedy drew criticism for appearing bare-headed at his inauguration; his predecessors wore top hats.

There are still plenty of men who take pride their appearance. But fashions change, and what was once distressingly casual has become formal and dignified. Just in my lifetime, I’ve seen jeans go from play clothes for little boys to pants acceptable for all but the most formal occasions.

Oh yes, also welcome to the Straight Dope!

Well, what’s wrong with being a proper hostess? Sounds pretty good to me. Serving drinks and snacks shows that she’s being attentive to the guests, which, if you ask me, is just common sense hosting etiquette, be you a man or woman.

Dressing when company came over? They still do that in many parts of the world, and I’ve seen it done firsthand in Europe. (long story.) I don’t see a problem with that at all. It shows respect for the guest.

I bought flowers for the hostess, as a guest should do. Whenever I’m invited over anywhere, I do this.

How you dress and whether or not you bring a gift when invited to my home matters little to me. It is appreciated, no matter what you choose to wear, that it be clean. Otherwise feel free to show up in threadbare trousers and an old shirt.

Be polite, be respectful, be an engaging guest and you will have a standing invitation.

I actually was impressed with the idea of yesteryear’s well-dressed men and women. You’re right. It’s Golden Age thinking, I suppose. Still, though, I can’t stand the idea that there are millennials who dress like slobs for working at a job where the way you look reflects on the company. If you look sloppy, the entire company will get judged that way and that’s unfair. Also, the same goes for job interviews. I’ve gone on a couple, and I’ve seen two or three kids wearing nothing but swim-trunks! (Granted, I live in Hawaii, but still!) Time and place. Time and place. (BTW, JFK wore a fedora.)

But why does serving drinks and snacks require a fancy outfit?

I think people generally have a sense of the dress codes at their friends’ houses. If I were dressed up when my friends came over they’d be uncomfortable since we always dress casually.

I bring a host(ess) gift too, but again this doesn’t have anything to do with your clothing.