I am home in Ohio at the moment to attend my 45th (!!!) high school class reunion. I remember distinctly thinking when I was in high school that the people who appeared in the Xenia Daily Regret, as we called the local paper, celebrating their 25th class reunions were older than Methuselah. Now here I am celebrating the 20th anniversary of my 25th reunion! As one of my dear friends is fond of saying, “Yikes!” Waiting to go to the Homecoming Football Game ( Go Bucs!) and then to a local watering hole for adult beverages with classmates, I was watching the news. A woman who has obviously not missed any meals, was surprised at her school by her son, a Marine coming home from Afghanistan. This woman had on a red sweatshirt and a pair of jeans. I was horrified. There is no way, no how, no reason, no excuse for a teacher or other adult worker who is not cleaning floors, to wear jeans to school. Ditto the sweatshirt. There are times I wish I had put my doctorate in educational leadership to a different purpose and become a principal. My teachers would not wear jeans to school. They would not wear sweatshirts or tee shirts or anything else that would denigrate the status of the teacher. They would not have to wear high heels and party dresses, but they would have to be neat, clean and wear what one would wear to perform any kind of business service. Ties are definitely optional for the men and women are welcome to wear pants at my school, but no jeans, no chinos for anyone. Pants mean dress pants, and men need a collar on those shirts.
In NC, and I am sure in other places, they feature a teacher of the week or month. I am always mystified and dismayed when they show some supposedly wonderful teacher addressing her charged clad in a sweatshirt and jeans. When did this become appropriate professional garb? Teachers often complain these days of not being respected. Well, perhaps if you started looking like a professional people would treat you more like one. When the young men and women who work at Starbucks outdress you, you need to check yourself!
I was equally horrified to walk into the fancy emporium known as Walmart and be greeted by a woman wearing what could only be described as something one would find in a rag bag. Now, do not get me wrong. I know it is Walmart, but even so it is a business. The woman in question weighs at least 300 pounds, but that is no excuse, they make and sell big clothes, even at Walmart. She had on a dark blue, faded tee shirt that had been washed so many times it was stretched out at the neck and uneven at the hem. Under that she had on a brown skirt that might have, at one point, consisted of layers of fabric meant to look like ruffles, but they had given up the ghost long, long ago. It too was misshapen and crooked hemmed and faded.
Just on a whim, after being smacked in the face with this poor creature’s appearance I wandered back to the ladies department. There were perfectly good plain cotton tee shirts on sale for $4.88 in sizes up to 3X. There were also capacious skirts starting at $7.99. With her employee discount I am confident she could have pulled off a new outfit ( the grungy sneakers could be replaced for $9.99) for less than $20. I do not know how much she makes, but clothes for your job have to be included in anyone’s budget, albeit not at the rate they are included in mine. Ironically one of the people who presents a most professional image and is very stylish is one of the managers at Walmart. I remember when she was in high school that her family was desperately poor and she could not dress well. Now that she is making enough money to present herself as a professional she does a great job. I just wish she would spread the wealth and talk to some of her employees. It makes one feel very low shelf ( hey, I know it is Walmart) to be waited on by someone who appears to be homeless.
I realize more and more that I am, indeed, a dinosaur. I expect people to dress like they are going to work and appropriately for the kind of work they do. Being waited on in department stores ( Elder Beermann’s at home, Dilliards and Belk in NC ) by people who either look like they have just rolled out of bed and grabbed the first thing to come to hand, or who look like someone promised to take them to a nightclub immediately following work and they will not be able to go home and change is annoying to me.
I have to insert here that the folks at Macy’s have never, in NC or Ohio failed me in dressing appropriately and tastefully, thank you ladies and gentlemen! Adding insult to injury, today when I went to Elder Beerman’s to buy a coat, the woman who finally deigned to wait on me, after me standing at the checkout area calling “ Hello?’ for three minutes until she wandered up, was about 80 years old and sporting blue jeans. Her top was ill-fitted and for someone much younger. She chatted me up about NC after I supplied her with my zip code ( why do they ask you for all these random things? Phone numbers, zip codes, emails? I do not want to be friends with them!) and then proceeded to ask her co-workers who had wandered up like gnus looking for pasture, did she look sexy in her jeans! This last exchange precluded her thanking me for buying the $280 coat, by the way.
So people. Buy a full length mirror if you lack one. Comb your hair or pull it back. Put on some lipstick, wear earrings ( these two are optional for males) , make certain your clothes fit, are clean, age appropriate and reflect your pride in your position. If you do not I am going to start citing people. One surely can make a citizens’s arrest for the fashion police, I just know it!