Given the choice I would always rather overdress than underdress. It’s more interesting. Not just for you but for those around you.
I was so struck by this beautiful woman shopping with her partner and baby in London that I had to take her picture to illustrate the point that when you leave the house you should be ready for your public.
Then there are those who simply are not.
Here I am at a stylish, relatively expensive restaurant when a party of twelve arrives. The majority, 4 of the 6 men were donning baseball caps. They never removed them throughout the whole meal.
“What is up with that. ” I asked our waitress.
“I checked the reservation,” she said, and, by way of explanation, added “They are not local !” She didn’t need to add the “HUMPPPFF, but it was implied.
“I would never let my boyfriend do that,” the lovely, young but clearly opinionated waitress told me.
The singer Joe Cocker once advised in a great tune that “you can leave your hat on.” And if you look like Kim Basinger, the woman who inspired the song, and, if you, like Basinger is performing a striptease then by all means cling to your chapeau. But everyone else needs remove their hat when they sit down to dinner.
The practice of wearing baseball caps originated, unremarkably, with baseball. The caps sported a logo to identify each team and to keep the sun out of players eyes. The Brooklyn Excelsiors, who were an amateur baseball outfit from Brooklyn New York back in 1854, were the first to wear the hats. Today you will see members of The United States Navy and United States Coast Guard using caps as well but they form part of a uniform like that of a baseball team.
However this ubiquitous practice of baseball cap wearing has now extended to what seems to be every man on the planet many of whom I believe wear them to cover up the bald spot spreading across the top of their heads. That is false advertising for one thing. Secondly, most women don’t care about a hairless head. They just want a good man.
But when men refuse to remove their caps at dinner it communicates a kind of disrespect for everyone there.
“If I was dating someone who wore a hat at dinner it would definitely be a red flag!” warns, Marion Martignetti, the owner of the stylish Details and Goods boutique in Osterville on Cape Cod.
“I would rather be….overdressed!” says Martignetti. “I guess that means I prefer people to dress up rather than be casual. Often casual brings out the lazy sloppy side of people. One thing leads to another. I wonder if people who dress casual for work have messier desks than those who don’t?” she asks.
The buyer for Newport Rhode Island’s well known Michael Hayes clothing shop, Patty Hayes, has adjusted her inventory to reflect the desire for more casual dressing so, for instance, you see fewer suits in her store. “Casual
dress is a lifestyle choice, looking like a slob is different and that is alarming! says Hayes. “People look like slobs because either they don’t care or they don’t have
the proper education on how to dress.”
It might seem old fashioned for men to remove their hats in public places but it is still in good taste. As is compliance with tradition. A point clearly missed by international Formula One race car driver Lewis Hamilton who was turned away from the Royal Box at Wimbledon for his failure to adhere to the club’s strict dress code which includes a jacket and tie. Everybody else got the memo, including actors Hugh Grant and Benedict Cumberbatch.
When my husband would set off for the office in London he always dressed impeccably. “You look like you’re going out on a date,” I would exclaim. Navy blue bespoke suit, vest, tie, french cuffs and just enough cologne to make more than one female friend admit, “You are the best smelling man on the continent.”
Former Editor in chief of Harper’s Bazaar Kate Betts writes in her memoir, My Paris Dream about the late John Fairchild, her former boss at Women’s Wear Daily and his god like worship of the late, great fashion designer, Yves St. Laurent. “I understood (John) Fairchild’s obsession with St. Laurent as a storyteller and with fashion as a carefully coded language that tells both an individual’s story and a culture’s broader history. You could dismiss fashion as something frivolous and ultimately irrelevant, but we all have to wear something, and what we wear says so much about who we are and how we see ourselves. Saint Laurent understood that.”
“Saint Laurent is absolutely correct,” says Hayes, “I believe your personal style is an expression
of who you are, where you have been & where you want to go in life!”
There are few excuses for untidy attire. Clothes are made with such fabulous fabrics these days that most are comfortable, many are affordable and styles varied enough to suit everyone’s taste. We only have one body, like one life, so if you have the time (that is if you are not working two jobs, raising three kids and killing yourself plowing the fields) adorn yourself with abandon.
But still I have been to events and restaurants where people look as if they had just fled a house fire escaping with only the clothes on their backs.
At the Holland Park Opera the range of sartorial disrespect was breathtaking. Although many men were in suits and women in dresses some folks actually showed up in gym wear. Really ? If that is what you wear to the opera then what do you wear to McDonald’s? No disrespect to the fast food giant as I adore their products. But I could forgive Lycra there-more room to expand and all. But it has no business showing up at the opera.
And airplane attire has gone right the way of gym wear addicts too. If you’re driving 10 hours to the coast, please by all means, wear sweats and sandals. But when you get on an aircraft the sight of hairy armpits on muscle shirt clad men is beyond unattractive. It is, hands down, the worse look in the closet.
So, if you have a choice, please, make a better one. If you don’t, please stay at home. Visual assault is only a fashion crime, but it is criminal all the same.