Earlier this week I attended Jayden’s awards ceremony for JROTC. It was a proud moment in my life – this is the first time he has participated in an extracurricular activity since he was very young. Plus I think it was the first time he has ever received an award other than the “Yay, you participated!” kind.
Hilarious sidebar: He didn’t want to go to the ceremony because it would cut into his computer time. I encouraged him to “take one for the team” and, in true Asperger’s fashion, he looked at me like I was insane and said, “Um, JROTC isn’t a team, Mom. It’s an organization.” *headdesk*
Anyway, we arrived about 45 minutes early to allow him time to find out where he needed to sit and get all his other OCD rituals out of the way. Once he was settled, I sat back to engage in some people watching.
Okay, a few things you should know: (1) We live in Kentucky, where people watching is almost a competitive sport. We could keep People of Walmart going all by ourselves. (2) I am no stranger to casual dress, especially since I became a self-employed hermit. (3) I realize that some people may not be able to afford dressy clothes. With all that said, OH. EM. GEE.
As people started filtering into the seats in the auditorium, I couldn’t help staring at what some of them chose to wear. Keep in mind, this was an end-of-the-year awards ceremony held in the evening. The JROTC kids were in their uniforms. Photographers from the newspaper were there. It’s not like we were at a Little League baseball game or a picnic or something.
I saw baseball caps (most of them camouflage). I saw jorts and dirty sneakers. I saw tank tops and tube tops. I saw plaid pajama pants and flip flops. One lady had what looked like muddy paw prints on her shirt. I’m sitting there looking at all these people and wondering, When did it become okay to go out in public like this? It gave me flashbacks to my college internship with a law firm – people used to show up to court in similar attire all the time.
Why So Casual?
I know the world is changing and expectations aren’t quite what they used to be when it comes to what people wear. I grew up wearing dresses to church every Sunday, for example, and these days I usually throw on dark jeans or dress pants and a semi-dressy shirt. I don’t even know if I own a dress anymore. I can handle the fact that most people no longer maintain a separate wardrobe for special occasions, especially if they don’t have to dress up for work.
What I can’t deal with, though, is the blatant disrespect some people show in social situations (at least in my mind). I no longer dress up for church because no one else does, either – the norm has shifted in the last 10-15 years. But I wouldn’t dream of wearing flip flops and a NASCAR shirt to a wedding or graduation ceremony, and I make a point to dress neatly for anything that involves going to my son’s school. I have a limited wardrobe, especially now that I work from home, but I still know how to put together something appropriate when I need to.
As I said before, I know some people can’t afford nice clothing; I’ve definitely been there myself. But a simple t-shirt and jeans would have been fine! I find it hard to believe that the adult women walking around in booty shorts couldn’t have come up with something else to wear. Poverty has nothing to do with this – it isn’t an issue of brand names or white pants after Labor Day. It’s about realizing that a high school awards ceremony isn’t the time or place for certain wardrobe choices.
If my parents had shown up at my school in pajama pants when I was a teenager, I would have absolutely died. Luckily I didn’t have to worry about it because it never would have happened. I couldn’t help feeling sorry for the kids whose family members came to the awards ceremony in wildly inappropriate clothing. At the same time, though, I wondered if the kids even noticed or cared. Would they have looked the same way if they hadn’t been required to wear their uniforms?
Like most things that annoy me, I’ll turn it over to you guys. What are the expectations for “dressing up” where you live? Have you noticed a downward spiral when it comes to what people wear? Is this the new normal or are some people just too lazy/apathetic to put on decent clothes?