Friday, 8 January 2010

On the Social Code of Dressing

Andrea of a cat of impossible colour wrote about off-duty dressing, and I figured that I'd chip in and widen the topic a little. What we wear for "duty", work or a special occasion is an interesting concept, and what we wear for home or comfort is equally fascinating. Changing one's dress from breakfast to luncheon, from having guests to enjoying a cup of tea, from going to the theatre and having supper seems rather ridiculous these days, but a prominent social code used to dictate that women change their dress several times a day. Whereas the term "evening gown" still makes sense for today's women, "day dress" doesn't quite cut it anymore - we only have to specify our attire when we are outside the home. It is no longer necessary to define home-wear the way it used to be. I suppose the introduction of sports and travelling into women's lives in the 19th century began to transform that old social code of dressing. Our homes have also become more private. People live alone these days, and the custom of entertaining guests has become a rarity.

I enjoy dressing up for special occasions, but tend to lounge around in baggy trousers and cosy sweaters at home. As much as I like to think that I only dress for myself, I suspect that the traces of the old social code are still lingering within our minds and our lives. Not that we dress for others per se, but we become more aware of our appearances around other people. Perhaps it is in our nature to recognise the power of appearance in making first (or second, or third) impressions. There are still specific events where the role of the individual is defined with the help of what he or she wears: weddings and funerals are the most obvious ones. We don't dress a certain way in these occasions to impress others or to look nice, but to play our role within society. We dress out of respect for our fellow members of society, for the events that form social structures - essentially, for safety.

What I wear today is not dictated from above, and I didn't feel as if I had to please anyone but myself when I got dressed this morning. Nevertheless, I got dressed for the occasion of private comfort. That is a form of social code, isn't it?

Jumper: Salvation Army
Trousers: Cop-Copine
Ankle boots: Max&Co.


Eyeliah said...

Ohhh, tomorrow I am working form home (I think) will try to remember to photo what I wear. trust it is less fashionable then your cute look, you appear ready to go to the movies.

Karima said...

thought-provoking post, and gorgeous accompanying outfit.

Eyeliah said...

Okay I ended up going out and taking pictures instead.

a cat of impossible colour said...

In some ways I'm sad that we don't have such a strict social code when it comes to dressing these days ... but, then again, I like the freedom to choose. :)

tigerteacher said...

It's an interesting topic. I do certainly dress for occasion, but I also very much enjoy doing so. It gives me great pleasure to shop, thrift, creatively assemble outfits. It's fun for me to look a little different each day.

I do feel disappointed to see people walking around in their jammies or looking as if they've given no thought at all to how they're presenting themselves to the world. I don't mean that it terms of how they are actually SEEN by others (because I imagine most people don't notice) but I really mean how they PRESENT themselves to others. It's a nice investment in yourself each day to spend some time/thought on your grooming and it's also a way to communicate to the world that you find yourself to be worthwhile. I know that many people don't care about this at all - and that there are many people who care about this on a greater level than I do and might think me a total slob because I don't, say, get professional manicures or carry a designer bag, etc. I do agree with a cat of impossible colour - the freedom to choose is invaluable.

All of this is not to say, by the way, that I would never run to the grocery store in a sweatpant - but it would be in a pinch and, if at all possible, I would make time to slap on a bit of lipgloss!

Minni said...

Olet kaunis näissä kuvissa, kuten aina! Rakas!