Jewish World Review August 2, 2004/ 15 Menachem-Av, 5764

Greg Crosby

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Consumer Reports

All dressed up | Sorry if I come off as intolerant or judgmental or insensitive or Republican, but I've just got to say one thing - most people look like slobs. Recent scientific studies indicate the chances are ten to one that the person reading this column right now (that's you) probably falls into the slob category. Are you offended? Well, don't blame me, and don't just take my word for it. Take a moment and check yourself out now. Go ahead - I'll wait.

Okay, now that you've examined yourself carefully, what do you think? Are you a slob? If you are still unsure about it, then please take the following short quiz:

How to Know if You Dress Like a Slob

1. If you are out in public at this moment (and NOT in a gymnasium), are you wearing any of the following?: a) sweatpants or sweatshirt; b) T-shirt; c) anything made of Latex; d) jogging outfit; e) athletic shirt or tank top.

2. If you are over the age of 13 and do not play baseball or golf, do you very often wear a baseball cap as part of your normal non-working street dress?

3. Do you frequently wear sneakers or other athletic-style shoes when NOT engaged in an athletic activity?

4. Do you wear jeans when going out to dinner at any place that is a step above Taco Bell or McDonalds?

5. Do you carefully groom your hair so that it looks un-groomed?

6. Do you usually wear the very same kind of clothes no matter where you are going or what you are doing, be it going to the market, or going to the zoo, or attending church or synagogue, or mowing the lawn, or going to the doctor, or cleaning the lawn furniture, or going out to dinner, or to the theater?

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Just Men

1. If you are a grown man (and NOT staying at a beach resort) do you often wear baggy shorts around town?

2. Do you have that three-day growth of beard look?

3. Is your idea of "getting all dressed up" putting on a clean Hawaiian shirt?

4. Do you ever wear athletic shoes with a suit?

5. If you are over the age of say, twenty, do you ever wear loose-fitting Hip-Hop style clothing?

6. Do you walk around with your pants down below your belly?

Just Women

1. Do you wear tight stretch pants even though you know you are over the legal weight limit?

2. If you are NOT a thin teenager, do you wear clothing that exposes your bare midriff?

3. Do you walk around in open toed shoes, sandals, or flip-flops that allow your long toes to flop over the ends of the shoe and brush the ground?

4. If you're pregnant, do you enjoy showing your big belly to the world by wearing exposed midriffs and skin-tight tops?

If you answered "yes" to any of the above questions, congratulations - you are one of the great unwashed in today's society of the slobs! You're in a large group since most people will answer yes to at least one of those questions. There are even more questions which I might have included that would qualify someone as a bonafide slob, but my space is limited.

The sorry state of dress in our culture is more than just looking sloppy, unkempt, or too casual. We have lost the "uniforms" of professions. There was a time when you knew what a person did for a living by the uniform they wore. Gas station attendants and milkmen wore similar outfits - white cotton pants, white shirts and black bow ties with yachting-style billed hats. Taxicab drivers wore very similar shaped hats, also with white shirts and bow ties. Nurses used to wear professional-looking, clean, starched white uniforms and caps. Today in their multi-colored patterned smocks, nurses dress no differently than the cleaning crew at the hospital.

I'm convinced that wearing a uniform gave people a more professional attitude toward their jobs - an attitude that has been lost along with the uniforms. Dressing the part does make a difference. Now the guy who works on my car isn't dressed any differently than the guy baking pies in the restaurant, or the store clerk. Even bank tellers are getting away from wearing jackets and ties. Everybody's the same now, casual, laid back, on a first name basis. The twenty-four year-old receptionist at the doctor's office opens the door to the waiting room and calls my 80 year-old mother (whom she doesn't even know) by her first name.

It seems with each passing year, the dressing down trend just gets worse. But I've noticed something interesting about how this trend has affected me - the sloppier people look, the dressier I want to get! I have no idea why this is, except that perhaps it has something to do with my rebellious nature. I want to go in the opposite direction.

So I've stopped wearing jeans all together except for working in the backyard or horseback riding. I don't wear sneakers as everyday shoes, only when appropriate and absolutely necessary. I've taken to dressier casual khakis, chinos, and slacks, crisp sport shirts and loafers for everyday wear. I wear suits and sports jackets when going out to dinner, usually with a tie. And get this - sometimes I even wear a fedora hat (Panama in the summer). And the added plus is, when I dress up I stand straighter, I have a better self image and I feel good about my appearance.

So there you have it - maybe it's my age, maybe it's my contrariness, but for good, bad, or whatever, I am dressing up while the rest of the world dresses down. My only complaint is there aren't enough places to go where dressing well is the thing to do. Like that old saying - I'm all dressed up with no place to go. But that's okay. At the very least my posture is better.

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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.

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© 2004 Greg Crosby