12 Sep 2015

Why Americans Today Dress Like Slobs

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Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, corner of Main & Centre in front of Miners’ National Bank, circa 1940: coal miners on their days-off would customarily wear suits, neckties, and hats.

The Washington Posts’s Roberto A. Ferdman discusses with University of Nevada Fashion historian Dierdre Clemente the fashion triumph of “casual dress.”

There’s this fashion theorist who wrote in the 1930s about how in capitalist societies, clothing serves as this way to jump in and out of socioeconomic class. Now, he was writing at a time when people were still really trying to jump up, and could feign wealth. You could buy a nice-looking suit and make it seem like you were a lot more wealthy than you actually were then. But in the second half of the 20th century, what we’ve seen is people doing just the opposite. …

There’s something called collective selection. And what it is, is the idea that no longer is it the rich people telling the poor people how to dress, no longer is it that the poor people want to wear what the rich wear. Nowadays it’s a group decision. Because class is so wishy washy today, since everyone thinks that they’re middle class, the collective selection is what is acceptable in different scenarios — the office, the church, the classroom, etc. It’s decided by the group.

Read the whole thing.

2 Feedbacks on "Why Americans Today Dress Like Slobs"


I would say that, since, clothing is so comparatively cheap nowadays, it is no longer a reliable social marker,so nobody cares anymore. I can go down to the Men’s Clothing Warehouse and spend three hundred dollars to look (approximately) like a millionaire. The status marker nowadays is the car, and to a lesser extent the house. I suspect that the status that was formerly reflected in suits and hats is now reflected in Lexuses (Lexii?), BMWs and McMansions. That being said, I remember my grandfather working on cars in a white shirt, which impressed me terrifically. I certainly dress better than most of my contemporaries, or even my parents. They were into that polyester thing that was so chic and modern in 1970. I’m into cotton shirts, ironing and starch. Color me reactionary.


Dressing nicely and in a style that compliments and enhances a persons natural beauty is a gift you make to other people. Dressing badly actually is a sign to me of narcissim as it others who must behold the unpleasant view


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