Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Does anybody ever dress up anymore?

...and the latest White House flip-flop controversy

Actually, I think the girls of Northwestern's women's lacrosse team look quite lovely in their official White House picture. But there's no denying it--they're clearly wearing flip-flops on their feet.

Is that so wrong? Well, apparently some of their friends and family thought so, according to the Associated Press story: "A front-page story in the Chicago Tribune included the headline 'YOU WORE FLIP-FLOPS TO THE WHITE HOUSE?!' inspired by an e-mail sent to player Kate Darmody from her older brother after he saw the photo on the team's Web site.

"Family members of other players expressed similar dismay, insisting the summer footwear staple was too casual for a visit with the president."

The girls countered that they weren't wearing ratty beach sandals, but dressier versions of the summer staple. And to their credit, they're auctioning off the flip-flops to raise money for a sick child.

I have a feeling W probably could care less what the girls were wearing on their feet--he doesn't strike me as the type who would be offended, especially since they looked quite presentable otherwise. Bush's own daughter Jenna reportedly appeared in court a few years ago wearing capris and flip-flops.

However, the story did make me think about how apparel etiquette has either changed or fallen by the wayside in my lifetime. And it begs the question: Does anybody ever dress up anymore?

OK, I know this is going to sound strange to some of you, but years ago, I actually used to dress up to fly somewhere on a plane trip. I don't do that anymore, and haven't for some time--but even now, I try to strike the right combination of casual, comfortable and--well--nice.

And don't think me judgmental when I say this, but whatever happened to "Sunday-go-to-meetin'" clothes? Nowadays it's not uncommon to be trying to worship while derriere-cleavage (let alone the other kind of cleavage), thongs peaking out of low-rise jeans, and bare midriffs are clearly in view.

On the other hand, I've seen churches where Sunday services were virtual fashion shows, with women feeling like they have to have a new outfit every week, and where dressing up to "show respect to God" somehow became a measure of your spirituality. I think that's not only pretentious and creepy, but unbiblical to boot. And certainly no one should feel like they can't come to church because they don't have an extensive wardrobe of expensive suits.

Don't get me wrong; I'm all for being comfortable. I haven't put on a pair of pantyhose all summer, and when I do wear them, they're the first thing I rapidly peel off when I get home.

However--that said--there are, or should be, some occasions where you dress up. And I think the whole notion of dressing up is going the way of the buffalo, so to speak. Modesty and decorum--etiquette, for that matter--seem to be quaint and archaic notions from the distant past. And I, for one, think that's kind of sad.

Granted, I am a woman who doesn't go to the grocery store without freshening my make-up.

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