The List: October 7, 2019

Last week, I joined a busload of friends, neighborhood moms, and some of our kids for a day trip to New York to see Aladdin on Broadway. The day before, I had spent, arguably, too much time trying to figure out what we should wear since it is October, yet it was supposed to reach the mid-90s during the day. I wanted us to be comfortable since it was a long, hot day, but still appropriate for the occasion. 

As we walked into the theater, my one friend turned to me and said, “Are we getting old, or does no one get dressed up anymore?”

We are getting older, but it’s sad to see the state of things. So many people looked like they had (literally) rolled out of bed. Others were in cut off shorts, and flip flops like they were having a day at the beach.

Society has become so casual, and I think it’s a shame because if you’re not getting dressed for a Broadway show, or a holiday party, or even a wedding, what are you getting dressed up for? What is worth celebrating?

The List - October 7, 2019

Growing up, one of the biggest lessons my mom instilled in me was the importance of and value in having proper manners. We wrote thank-you notes and referred to adults as Mr. or Mrs.

When I was older; I never went to someone’s house as a guest without a gift. And when we went out, whether it was to a neighborhood restaurant, the Boardwalk in Wildwood New Jersey, or to see a show, she made sure my brothers and I were dressed well.

Back then, it may have felt old-fashioned, but now, as a grown woman with kids of my own, I think it’s one of the best gifts my mom gave me. I didn’t know it at the time, but all these little things she made us do, really set me up for success, in so many ways.

Understanding how to operate in society helped me advance in all areas of life. Knowing how to be courteous, and mannerly allows me communicate well with just about anyone. Because I treat everyone with respect, I get it in return. 

It’s been a huge point of leverage for me. 

Even more than my success, what she gave me was a guideline for how to live life well. If you’re going to do something, or go somewhere, do it the nicest way you can. When she put us it that special outfit, weather it was a dress for Easter or an extra cute tee shirt and shorts at the shore, she was showing us that we were doing something that required extra attention and it was worth respecting and celebrating. 

I wonder, what do you think about how casual our world has become? Let us know in the comments below. 

Other things on The List: 

2. Sale Alert: Need a new raincoat? This Cole Haan packable coat with a hood has been a reader favorite for years and is on sale for $130.  Grab it now. 

3. Con: I cannot get enough of the drama and stupidity surrounding WeWork. The video included in this article explains the flaws in their business plan well, and this article sums up the debacle that is their corporate culture

4. Add to Cart: I love this pajama set by Splendid, makes me long for a weekend I stay in my jammies past 7 am. 

5. Good Stuff: H&M has SO MANY GREAT PIECES this fall. I have my eye on this cozy sweater, this brown sweater would be perfect for Thanksgiving, and this off the shoulder cable knit sweater looks so much more expensive than its $40 price tag. Stay tuned for a more detailed post this week. 

6. Bill’s Brain: If you haven’t watch this 3 part documentary about Bill Gates, put it on your list. It’s absolutely fascinating. 

Have a great week everyone!

 

The List: October 7, 2019
Megan Kristel

Megan Kristel is an entrepreneur, working mom, and former personal stylist. Tired of the one-dimensional portrayal of women online, she founded The Well Dressed Life as a resource for other professional women.

19 Comments
  1. Megan, hi – A few years ago I attended a ballet performance at Philadelphia’s Academy of Music. I was shocked to see other attendees dressed in jeans and football jerseys – a fine look at a stadium but misplaced at the ballet. Even if your budget is severely limited and you were gifted the ballet tickets, how about loving & respecting yourself enough to put on your one good dress or even simple black pants and black long sleeved tee shirt?

    I wish folks would not just consider themselves but also the other patrons for whom that might be their only special night out. Tom Ford is right.

  2. Thank you for this. My mother and I are huge Broadway fans and I am constantly hissing under my breath at people “No jeans at the theater!” Totally agree – special occasions are worth wearing something special!

  3. I’m with you completely. “Dress for Success” has been around for a long time but it rings true. I honestly never “just throw something on” and walk out the door. My attire and my first impression let’s people know who I am and where I stand. And honestly, I build upon that. Enough said…we both agree! Charleston SC

  4. I absolutely agree! I have been very saddened by the casual dress that seems to have invaded our society. I took my boys to a homeschool event. It was an afternoon symphony. I made my boys put on what they would wear to church, and we talked about manners and proper conduct. I couldn’t believe what I saw from other families.! Some looked like they had gotten out of bed! To make matters worse, some kids were talking, licking lollipops, and blowing bubbles with gum. The parents didn’t seem to even care or quiet their kids. I came to realize that probably the parents haven’t been taught proper manners and dress. If they don’t know, how can they teach their kids? We now live in Kenai, Alaska where it is even more casual, but I think proper dress and manners are as important as ever.🙂

  5. I COMPLETELY agree with you! I really hate how the overall dress code of society has gone drastically downhill. All other reasons that have already been mentioned aside, simply the fact that you feel better about yourself when you dress nicely should prompt people to get out of their pajamas or workout clothes and into a decent outfit!! (I could get on my soapbox big time about this topic! 😉)

  6. It could not agree more. I live in England and it is just as bad here. It’s not just youngsters but seniors as well in shorts and flip flops everywhere anywhere.

  7. I also think things are to thrown together and no one cares anymore. I feel out of place when I do dress for any occasion or just going to the store. I feel when you dress and comb your hair and a little make up you half to feel better about your self.

  8. Just started reading your blog and enjoying it. I live in LA and thought we were the capital of super casual dressing but I’m wrong. When we go see theatre ( more for matinee)we see the same thing you do. It is totally too bad. Society has gotten far too casual.
    I would like to comment on your recommendation of H&M. I am totally against buying garments this company sells, so cheap with a throwaway attitude.
    I rate this with the super casual attitude. Young women (mostly) want to have 20 cheap tops instead of 5 quality pieces! Heavens the styles will change next season.

  9. I agree with you. Even when my husband and I go to a casual restaurant, we take the time to dress in appropriate clothing, not shorts and tees or jeans and sneakers. I miss the days when people dressed for church services, weddings, and funerals. I attended a funeral last week where visitors wore shorts, jeans, and tank tops. I was appalled! I believe that our dress conveys our attitude. If I am dressed better, my bearing and attitude reflect that. I retired over 4 years ago, yet I still put on makeup, do my hair and nails and even though I am wearing jeans, I dress up that blouse or sweater with jewelry and scarves. I may be spending the day at home, but it doesn’t matter. I love me, and I want my clothing to reflect that.

  10. Like you, my mom taught me to dress appropriately for every occasion. I’m retired and I still consider carefully what I’m going to wear whenever I leave the house. Sometimes, that means changing during the day. Last Friday, I had a planning meeting in the morning so I dressed in denim leggings and a casual tunic-length T. I’m on the board of a non-profit and that afternoon, I had a meeting at City Hall. Even city offices are pretty casual on Fridays so I could have worn the same outfit but, I firmly believe how you dress makes a difference in how you are perceived. Before the meeting, I changed to business casual. I wore black cropped pants, a red blouse, and black heeled sandals. I wasn’t dressing to impress as much as I was bolstering my own confidence!

  11. I agree with you and Tom Ford. I love to watch old movies and photos from years past and I can see how everybody was careful to present their best selves. Dressing up IS good manners.

  12. I agree with you 110% and I say this all of the time that people do not dress up and it is a lack of respect and manners I totally believe you should dress up to go to the theater or anything like that I find I dress the way I feel I should no matter how casual or sloppy looking other people may look I dress how I want and feel is appropriate and I have tried to instill that in my daughter as well it saddens me how casual people dress and I see it in my workplace as well

  13. Good for you Megan! I’ve noticed the very same thing myself. It seems the more casual and unkempt you are, the more attention you get. Anything goes. Not.
    I think it sends a huge message about yourself and how you feel.

    You might be too young to remember when Oprah had wonderful segments on her show about how not to look like a “slumpadinkas” sp? It was opportunity to teach younger women how to dress casually and still look smart, even when looking after kids at home. And feel good.

    What’s happened to respect? I could go on, just wanted to acknowledge you and your fine blog. Bravo!

    A reader from the west coast of Canada.

  14. We have been taking our kids to the theater and symphony since they were very young. I love the opportunity to wear something other than scrubs or jeans! I have a slightly different perspective, though. My daughter plays violin in a youth symphony. The performances take place in a gorgeous old theater, which has a scholarship program to provide free or low cost tickets for kids and families, and occasional free performances are sometimes offered to everyone.

    Music lessons, rehearsals, transportation to these events, and just having some exposure and immersion in the Arts is cost prohibitive for many families. No matter what the patrons are wearing, it will always take a back seat to the power and awe of a kid’s first experience being surrounded by a full symphony. The look on their faces, when it resonates with them, is like watching someone see the ocean for the first time. And when they love it, they love it for life. I hope that the dress code will come with time, but I am just so happy to get them in the door.

    1. I think we’re talking about two completely different things. I’m not talking about children nor am I suggesting that we limit the arts to only those who can afford it. I’m specifically referencing grown individuals with means who know better but are choosing not to follow a dress code.

  15. I completely agree with your observations regarding the lack of concern people exhibit when it comes to paying special attention to their dress. It definitely reflects a lack of civility, respect, and manners. Unfortunately, it seems to be a rarity anymore that people dress appropriately for any occasion. I went on a South Caribbean cruise with my fiance, his grown son and his girlfriend. On “Formal” nights for dinner, we all took extra care to dress appropriately. I was really peeved to see people in line to be seated with the clothes that they had been wearing ~ I am guessing ~ all day. Tee-shirts and cargo shorts, flip-flops and tennies. I was beyond disappointed that they allowed groups of people to be seated dressed as they had come straight from a day at the beach ~ so tacky. I blame this on the cruise personnel for not enforcing the “formal attire” rule. What are they afraid of ~ Discrimination complaints? Possibly. In any case, it’s depressing. Thankfully, my children and grandchildren are aware of the way they present themselves in public in any given situation. Hopefully, the time will turn again one day ~ and people will place some importance in the way that they present themselves.

  16. Oh, no, I did not think you were saying that! You’re right, I was speaking of a very specific situation. I agree that we’ve become too casual. For me, I am amazed when I see people in public, in pajamas, or in what appear to be pajamas. It makes me wonder on a deeper level what that person thinks of her/himself. I meant, and did not communicate well, was my hope that younger people may be positively nurtured and influenced by an enriching experience. The feeling of being uplifted in your heart can translate to a desire to project that feeling to the outside world. I think that shows in the ways we choose to present ourselves to the world. There are many people who know better than to wear cutoffs and flip-flops to the theater (for example) and do it anyway. But for those who do not, I see an experience like a play or symphony as a gateway. Change from the inside, out, in tiny steps.

  17. I am wholeheartedly agree! How much more of an effort is it to put on a pair of nice pants and a stylish top, give some consideration to what shoes are appropriate, than to grab whatever is on top of the clothes pile?

  18. Just wanted to comment briefly on the H&M comment. I thought also that it wasn’t a good company, but I just listened to another podcast talking about fast fashion. While fast fashion still isn’t great as a whole, there are some companies that are better than others. H&M is apparently trying to make better/more sustainable/socially conscious choices in their materials. Two sites to check out are Fashion Revolution and GoodOnYou where you can see the ratings of various companies/brands. I think if we can, yes we should be doing our research and buying from environmentally/socially conscious companies, but not everyone can do that. Buying from H&M is still a better choice than Forever21, etc. just wanted to put that out there! Thanks for a wonderful post!

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