Dressing up

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.


that’s my greatgrandpa on the left : )

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.





9 thoughts on “Dressing up

  1. Mom says:

    Here is to dressing up! People are such slops these days. Men don’t dress up for women, women don’t dress up for men. People, especially young people, don’t even dress up for God, if they even go to church at all. Dressing up shows what you think of someone. I guess no one thinks much about anyone anymore. A shame.

  2. Jill says:

    We were watching Foyle’s War and remarking about this same thing. He was wearing a hat, tie and vest while he played golf

    • joanallegretti says:

      Of course, their theme song would have improper grammar.

      I think I would disagree with them on what sharply dressed means.

      • Jill says:

        actually i think it’s probably more the “ZZ Top” connection than what the song lyrics are actually saying…

  3. mahadeva says:

    I’m a 46 yo women and I do not dress up for church. Church, I feel, is the one place that I can be myself, the way God made me. I go to church to worship God, receive insight regarding His word, and to fellowship with other believers, none of which is hindered by me not dressing up. I believe God is more concerned with the condition and contents of our hearts than whether or not we’re dressed stylishly. I also think He’s even more concerned that there are too many people that have yet to accept the gift of salvation from His son Jesus Christ.

    We are the body of Christ and the Spirit of God dwells within us, not the building. The “church” is simply a building that enables congregants/believers to meet collectively for the purpose of worship, receiving instruction, praying, fellowshiping and encouraging one another, and etc. God is with us everywhere we go, and I don’t believe there’s anyone that dresses up 24 hrs a day, so why do I need to dress up for church. We show God respect by loving Him and by being obedient to Him, not by putting on a suit and tie, or a dress. There are many people that stay away from church because they believe they will not be accepted because they don’t have the “proper” attire. I believe this saddens God greatly.

    • joanallegretti says:

      I agree and disagree. I definitely don’t think God judges us if we don’t dress stylishly. : ) He definitely cares more about what is in our hearts than what is clothing our bodies. After all, He told us to be more like the birds of the air and lilies of the field who don’t worry about things like clothes and food. There are many people out there who can’t afford dress clothes, too.
      But I think often people spend more time looking nice for their jobs, for going out to dinner, for going out on the town, etc, and then don’t try to look nice for church. Maybe God doesn’t care. But we should care. Putting effort into looking nice on Sunday mornings (not for those around us, but for Him), can be an outward manifestation that we care about Him more than anything we do the rest of the week.
      We can never judge the person in the pew next to us. Someone may be dressed to the nines to impress the person behind them. And someone could be in pajama pants because that’s all they own.
      But America has gotten sloppy, and my blog post was intended to call people to make more of an effort. Before I was freshly pressed, I knew all my readers, and no one read my blog that couldn’t afford nice pants or a nice skirt. So there’s no excuse not to put effort into looking nice for church to remind yourself that this is the most important part of your week.
      I hope this helps to explain my thoughts behind the post.

      • mahadeva says:

        Thanks for your reply. I understand what you’re saying and there are many that agree with you. I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with dressing up for church per say, but I also don’t believe it’s necessary. It is indeed one’s personal choice and preference which really boils down to one’s intentions. Is it to impress man, or to feel good about one’s self, or a desire to honor God. I’m just so grateful to God that He doesn’t require me to dress up my outer person in order to worship Him and bring Him pleasure.

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