A fellow female Catholic blogger has lamented on a few occasions that men have lost the art of dressing well. She recently pointed out that while Downton Abbey is said to be affecting fashion, it means that Ralph Lauren’s fall women’s line has more tweed. But isn’t it the men of Downton that wear tweed? She lamented the lack of “smartly dressed men.”
I have to second that lament. Of course, the men I work with do wear ties every day. After all, they’re in academia. But have you been to a Catholic church on a Sunday morning lately? I could count the number of men in suit coats on one hand. And this is January! It’s cold out there. Why not wear a tie and suit coat?
I’ve been spoiled my whole life by my father. I can’t remember the last time Dad didn’t wear a suit coat to Mass on a Sunday. Maybe when we were traveling abroad. But he wore a coat even in our un-airconditioned church in the middle of July. In fact, I think he often even wore long-sleeved shirts under his suit coats in July.
That’s something our society has definitely lost.
I don’t think that clothes make the man, and I’m not advocating that we should all start judging people by the way they dress. Not everyone can afford a Tom Ford suit. And honestly, I can think of a lot better ways to spend thousands of dollars than on a Tom Ford suit. (although they are terribly nice.) But I know men who don’t make six-figure salaries but still make an effort to look nice.
When I sigh over bow ties, three piece suits, and pinstripes, it’s not just the shallow boy-crazy side of me coming out. Perhaps it’s a bit of a longing for days gone by, when men and women dressed up…. even men surveying a road.
And even if clothes don’t make the man, taking time to look put-together shows respect for yourself and those around you. Why do we dress up for job interviews? Why do we dress up for weddings or funerals?
But before this post becomes philosophical, I want to get to the point: Do guys realize how handsome they are when they’re dressed up?
We used to joke that the number of Christendom students who dated and got married was so high because everyone looked so nice all the time. Sure, guys wore plaid ties with checked shirts or ugly ties or ugly sportcoats. They didn’t always look like JCrew models. But compared to some guys you see at Mass, they looked pretty darn sharp.
I know sometimes it’s a pain to dress up. After all, I have to wear a skirt every day and I complain about it plenty. But it seems that if guys knew how much they could make a girl’s heart pitter patter just by putting a tie on … I think they’d do it a lot more often.
Okay, so maybe a vest too.
I was arguing with a friend over bow ties and how they’re wonderful (he didn’t think so), and he finally asked, “What’s the point of a tie, anyway? They serve no purpose.”
At first I didn’t know what to say. But then I realized — they do serve a purpose. They make you look nice. I don’t know who decided that a strip of material made you look nice, but it’s true.
And so maybe they don’t serve any other purpose but that. But we aren’t utilitarian. They don’t need to serve any other purpose. They tell the world, “I’m a classy person and I care enough about you and me to put this uncomfortable thing around my neck and look awesome.”
And while I may seem to be partial to Neal Caffrey’s slim fitting suits and ties, I’m okay with Windsor knots and wide lapels, too.
I’m very open-minded.