The lost art of dressing for dinner, or dressing nicely for anything at all… 124



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A few weeks ago at a family dinner, one of the younger relatives in the family was told by his father to go and put a collared shirt on for dinner. He was happy for him to wear a polo-T Shirt, but he wasn’t happy with the wide armed singlet that all his friends were also apparently wearing these days. Similarly, a young girl in high school also turned up wearing very, very short high waisted denim shorts and a baggy jumper. We were celebrating another member’s birthday with a sit down dinner in the formal dining room that included an entre, main and dessert. It was a lovely family occasion yet when I looked around it wasn’t just the young ones that hadn’t really made an effort to match their outfit with the occasion. It was most people. When did we stop making an effort to dress respectably for an event?

We no longer dress for dinner every night and that is a huge societal shift, but why don’t we dress nicely at all? I watched the below video just a few minutes ago and it showcased ladies’ fashion over the last 100 years. For the first 60 years we wore beautifully designed outfits that were feminine, elegant and beautiful. We teamed them with real accessories like gloves, handbags, and jewellery including brooches, make-up, hair and hats.



There was a time when dressing well was a sign of respectfulness. It was respectful to dress for an occasion appropriately, we went to an effort for those around us – and wasn’t it fun?

Of course we didn’t always love dressing nicely, it was somewhat of a hassle for the time poor. But it did give ourselves a sense of pride and self-confidence. If you watch the video, you’ll see that the evolution of style took us from formal to casual, but today we’re represented by lazy jeans, lazy hair, minimal makeup and a completely informal style. So why are we so lazy when it comes to dressing?

A university professor Linda Przybyszewski teaches a subject called “A Nation of Slobs” at the University of Notre Dame. She has some very interesting takes on the evolution of style that she shared with CBS News.

On gloves, “Up until the 1960s. Gloves were considered a requirement.”

On hats, “You were considered slightly undressed if you didn’t have a hat on.”

On style in general, “I think style just moved toward simplicity, and eventually slipped into stupidity.”

So have we really become stupid? Is our loss of dressing nicely for anyone at all just part of the general loss of respect society has become complacent with?

There’s no harm in putting some lippy on, wearing a nice outfit with a nice bag and nice shoes. There’s no harm in dressing up a little instead of dressing down like we so often do. A friend said that we simply have a culture who refuses to dress up – and I think she may be right.

Tell us, do you still dress up? Do you remember the days when you dressed to match the level of respect for an occasion? Share your memories and thoughts with us in the comments below…

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  1. The biggest changes I’ve noticed is the churchgoers, they wear short shorts, jeans with holes in the knees, flip flops…I still get dressed up, and I’m proud of that.

    5 REPLY
    • I agree with U Janet… While it’s wonderful they come at all , why not make it a day to look ones best…

    • At my church it is expected for men to wear a shirt and tie (suit for men over 12 years) and for ladies to look their very best. Their is also dress standards for the youth when they attend activities and it is sad to see them adhere to this but in a sloppy fashion when it is designed to teach them respect and to always look neat and tidy. It is also sad when friends attend a church service and they feel awkward around people who are dressed up as they rarely see it nowadays.

    • Isn’t that they attend church the main thing …. Do you think GOD is interested in fashion … You all seem to be from the old school and I do admire your taking pride in yourselves ….. But aren’t you all so happy to see these people attend church that they still faith their faith …..

    • If you expect people to dress up for church, remember the song/hymn ‘Come, just as you are’

  2. My family still dress up for birthdays, Christmas etc. It just shows respect and it’s nice to look good and feel good.

  3. I like to dress up nicely all of the time, makes me feel good and comfortable in my self, and that is important to me.

  4. We love to dress up for special occasions,and I insist when we go shopping that they have proper footwear! No thongs! However, I am staggered to see how few people put on their glad rags for very special occasions. On a recent river cruise, we had a series of palace dinners and I would have imagined people would have made a special effort.I think the lines have become so blurred that people really don’t know anymore. It may have arisen because the rules of dress were too rigid,and I have to say, I for one,was pleased to shed the hats and gloves for church and school.

    1 REPLY
    • Yes I was definitely pleased to see the exit of gloves and hats, having never been a hat person. I love to dress up and depending on what I wear, I add stockings/pantyhose. Appearance is everything and I prefer to travel with a tour group who have a dress code in place. When we went to Moulin Rouge, it was requested everyone dress accordingly and most did, one couple turned up in shorts and were turned away and had go back to the hotel to change. They just made it back in time to share a fantastic night.

  5. I still dress for the occasion, any occasion. Took may mum to her friend’s birthday afternoon tea yesterday (the lady was turning 90). The invitation was for ‘Dress: semi formal’. So nice to see people making an effort.

  6. Agree we have gone too far the other way. Notice when you go out somewhere the wait staff are better dressed than the patrons.

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