An old couple in front of me at the supermarket queue. The gentleman, probably the age of a grandfather is a sleek man in a white cotton pinned shirt and black fine wool trousers with a razor sharp edge combined with tight suspenders. His lady is in a waisted jacquard blazer, poplin shirt, knee length skirt and two-inch classic court heels. Incredibly neat looks and refined manners.
This isn’t their uniform for Sunday church service, but a daily habit, an indisputable rule one can tell. Quick buzz from my phone: another email notification. Business title about the death of skinny jeans replaced by the possible next king of sales - sweatpants.
No surprise - the streets are full of women in tight jersey leggings and short blouses that barely cover their bottoms. Men predominantly in jeans and baggy around the ankle trousers wearing paper-thin wrinkled blazers with sleeves that gently brush the knuckles.
The current contrast of dressing nowadays. The victory of mass production vs the extinction of around-the-corner tailors. Lifestyle evolution or pure surrender to comfort? Do we follow the traditions passed by our families or everything is erased by the freedom of personal style?
Since elementary school our brains are constantly overloaded with knowledge of all subjects. Writing, reading, grammar rules, algebra, undoubtedly needed on a daily basic level. Physics, chemistry, biology – used occasionally here and there, enough to know as a friend says that salt dissolves grease stains from a cotton shirt.
But how about subjects such as body posture, etiquette and fashion? How to walk straight and avoid leaning? How to hold the fork and knife properly during dinner? Who enters the door first – the lady or the gentleman? Men’s blazer – buttons on the left or right side?
No, these are not final questions from “Who wants to be a billionaire”. No doubt we may never remember or even practise the formula for homemade soap starting from a single carbon cell, but for sure we cannot be naked.
Then shall fashion be taught obligatory in elementary school?
Before a hand is raised that schools kill creativity let’s make a quick flip through the past century history of fashion purely for lifestyle analysis:
Crinolines are the dinosaurs, left abandoned to be replaced by the knee length dresses. They however spurred under the pressure of trousers sales, which were later defeated by the blue jeans. Several decades passed, coming to the 21st century and the streets are dominated by leggings, jeggings and jogging pants, once strictly for gym use now a current best-seller.
On the pavement bravely step Birkenstocks, retro Nike and Adidas flip flops, combined with socks for the hottest summer twist.
The fashion crime a few years ago is the current hot trend enjoying a short life of a single season.
The long-term trend however is we have unconditionally surrendered to comfort and laziness, calling it proudly casual, minimalistic, effortless chic. The truth is different - our culture of dressing dramatically decreases from generation to generation.
Decreasing is the respect we have towards ourselves and the way we look. It would be a silly act to deny the enormous impact appearance has on us and moreover on the perception of others.
Clothes are the first language, though muted, that we speak. “There’s never a second chance for a first impression” a cliché being repeated for decades forcing us to put some final effort.
Then inevitably isn’t it time for fashion to finally find its space on the school schedule? A short one-term is surely enough to lay a thin but solid base: brief history of clothing along with basic knowledge of fabrics and seams. It would be only beneficial, even vaguely, if we all know the meaning of bias, French seam and viscose for example (the last still widely recognised as a synthetic fibre).
Moreover, in a world where clothes from pencil to store shelves require as tiny as two weeks and are discarded after four more, to distinguish the quality of a piece could happen within one internal glimpse on the hanger. Only that way quality, once a standard, now a luxury among modern clothes, can compete with the consumerism’ cash-cow called quantity.