Gordon Parks (American, 19122006)
*Photograph by Gordon Parks. Courtesy and © The Gordon Parks Foundation
*Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
What can we (really) learn from the fashions of bygone eras? “We must have the courage to go back to the age-old tradition of ritual and dress code. We must have the courage to turn the shoddy away at the door.” - Glenn O’Brien People of Walmart. The voyeuristic blog-dumping-ground for the least appropriately dressed folks from America’s largest chain store. You’ll see it all - men in tutus shopping for fresh produce, women in shorts so short you’ll struggle to identify them, more men in costume buying whatever. (Spinoff websites including, beach creeps, neighbor shame, and wtf tattoos.) What’s going on here? When did our bar drop so low that the most casual of casual outfits now passes for nearly every occasion? Going to church? (Crocs will do.) PTA meeting? (Yoga pants sound right.) Going to see the bank manager? (Jorts. It is MY money after all….) There’s a separation between where we are now - the 21st century and where we were 50 years ago. The gap has become so wide that we don’t even really recognize the differences for what they are anymore. Take a look at your grandparents photo albums. You will not find one picture in which anyone, and I mean anyone, is underdressed. You’ll see men in double breasted, three piece suits, with shined shoes wearing hats. They’re proud. Women in tailored dresses with gloves and heels. Mind you, there were no gender specificity or income level requirements for dressing well and appropriately, simply, there was a sense of pride.