Why Don’t People Dress Up Anymore?

July 3, 2013  |  

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According to Necole Bitchie, Sean Combs, aka Puff Daddy, aka Puffy, aka P. Diddy, aka Diddy, aka Did, fondly recounted via Twitter the quiet and refined dignity of the shiny glittery suit era:

This year, the men’s fashion at the BET Awards seemed more casual than normal as some of the top artists in the game hit the red carpet in styling that seemed more suited for a video shoot than an Awards Show.   And of course, Diddy did not approve.  While watching the pre-show from the comfort of his home, he tweeted:

Is it just me or did all the good stylists go on strike!! If this continues imma have to come down to that #BetAwards! WARNING! @RevoltTV

Dear artist, Dear Human Brands! The world is watching us! #BetAwards This is our Oscars not the hip hop awards! Show em Black Glamour!

Be clear I’m not trying to be negative I just want US to WIN I just want them to know that we as a people understand proper attire!”

Did wasn’t lying about BET being the black folks Oscars, because I swear that program went on forever. By hour three, I had stood up, threw off my shackles and yelled at the screen, “Give Us, Us Free, Give Us, Us Free…”

Seriously though, why were the BET awards that long? But more to his point, because I actually think it’s a worthy one, dressing up has really become a dying art. Yes, I understand the world is changing and so are social norms, but there was something really special about the era in which people took pride in putting on their own personal [fashion] show.

I’m talking about the era where folks used to put on their Sunday best outfits just for a trip to Red Lobster (or Seafood Shanty, Seafood America or all the other seafood chains around the country that Red Lobster beat out). A time when parents would scold their kids to ensure that they would sit up and use their “good manners”; when it was not unheard of to say “yes, please” and “thank you” to the servers; and when restaurants had cloth napkins. But those days are long gone and even the most fancy pants restaurants are serving food on cheap plates and placemats and allowing people to sit in their midst in flip flops and Hawaiian print shorts.

And it is not just the BET Awards or Red Lobster. A couple of years ago, I went to see the traveling Broadway production of The Color Purple. I was super excited because my boyfriend at the time bought us tickets and this had been my first time out to see a major show at one of the major theaters in the city in years. So in anticipation of our big night, I left work early, rushed home, and changed into a black and white spaghetti-strapped free-flowing dress, some silver slingbacks, and a matching silver purse. I looked gorgeous – if I do say so myself. And then I jetted downtown to meet my car-less beau at our planned meeting spot. When I walked up from the underground subway I was immediately stunned by my dude’s appearance. There he was, standing at the top of the entrance to the subway staircase, in some sneakers, a wrinkled button-down and some jeans with a raggedy seam line. “Um…you look really nice. Where are you going?” he said to me bewildered. ‘Obviously not with your bum a**,’ I said to myself. I was so pissed at him and chastised him for not putting on some nice clothes. And then we walked around the corner to the theater, I learned that apparently it was me who didn’t get the memo about the new dress code because everyone going into the theater had on jeans, sneakers and raggedy shirts. “You’re yelling at me and you’re the oddball here,” he smirked. But I got the last laugh because he is not my boyfriend anymore.

At any rate, I wonder if folks don’t dress up anymore because they just don’t feel that the events they go to have value to them anymore. You can certainly make the case that the BET awards, which were honoring performers of such classy songs as “HYFR” and “F**kin Problems,” wouldn’t compel most to pull out the spit-shines. Just like how growing up, my family was po’ (not poor but “po”), so a trip to Red Lobster really was something special. But nowadays, I am in a better financial situation where I can swing by the ole’ Lobster and buy my entire block a Cheddar Bay biscuit (Just one though. Who do you think I am? Diddy?). But when folks aren’t even trying to get dressed up to meet the president of the United States, you really have to wonder what then do we still honor?

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