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C. Paul Luongo's Published Columns

Friday, September 08, 2006

Distressed Casual Dress and More

Distressed Casual Dress and More

Body Piercing. Male Earrings. Tattoos.

“Up your nose” used to be a very vulgar statement. Nowadays it refers to ring placed there and elsewhere.

How awful.

Many of today’s young people seem to lack standards, a sense of style, a sense of self-respect.

Unfortunately, it even extends to their music and movies.

They’re accepting frivolous entertainers who dazzle them very little talent but lots of skin.

Casual dress consisting of a sport shirt and jacket may be acceptable but T-shirts, cut offs and torn jeans are not – except in your own backyard.

But we can’t pin the blame on kids. Unfortunately, there are no adults making the rules – parents all too often opt out of setting standards.

But change is blowing in the wind. An important step in the right direction is that more and more schools are requiring uniforms for grade school students. This will inspire them and help develop better taste and style later in life.

The Boston Sunday Globe on September 23rd reported that Phillips Exeter Academy students voted unanimously for a new dress code which requires boys to wear collared shirts and ties and prohibits girls from wearing a list of revealing fashions, including spaghetti strap and midriff-bearing tops. Imagine! A class act. A move in the right direction.

At the other end of the spectrum at England’s Eton, formal clothes are worn to the classrooms. Prince William is a classic example of this upbringing. A bit overdone, but far better than the alternative.

America needs more youth role models other than Lil’ Kim, P. Diddy and Eminem. They set the worst examples in America for our kids. JFK, Jr. set a wonderful example when he was alive.
Sean Jean Clothing? A joke. Yet it sells because it’s considered “hip” not because it’s correct. Hip to me often means horrible. Jeans with holes and oversize trousers not only look unattractive, they also hide the fact that many teens are overweight because they gorge on greasy Big Macs – a move that guarantees Big Sizes. Not an attractive look. Not a healthy lifestyle.

Michael Jordan with his golden earrings does not help. Michael Jackson with his “shin pads” worn during his live 30th Anniversary Performance a Madison Square Garden does not make sense. Performers at this level belong in a tux not threadbare clothing.

What’s next? Tank tops and Speedos at graduation ceremonies? Minis as wedding dresses with track shoes for the long trek down the aisle?

"People took the concept of business casual, which started out as an innocent little perk allowing workers to ditch their blazers and skirts for a more comfortable look, and turned it into amateur night at the fashion improv," reports Gina Shaw in an article for Arrive magazine published by Amtrak.

Business casual was considered an employee benefit, and used by a lot of corporations to attract new graduates because of a manpower shortage. Companies did everything to recruit people.

Now, there’s a very conservative feel in America at the moment and with the economy not quite as good as before, details matter more and people are more careful. In fact, several menswear manufacturers recently launched "Dress Up Thursday," a campaign aimed at bringing high style back to the workplace.

J. P. Morgan recently adopted a business casual dress code and Morgan Stanley Dean Witter even inked an employee discount deal with J. Crew after it got on board with business casual.

55% of companies recently surveyed reported casual dress in the workplace every day of the week, but companies are being more specific about what they mean and when they expect people to wear professional attire. Before it was looser. Now it’s casual chic, as opposed to casual sloppy. Remember what you wear to work reflects your professional style.

The less skin you show, the more powerful you look!

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