Am I an Old Fogey?

Dinner OutWhen I was a kid the unspoken rule was that girls wore dresses to church. Around the time I was eight, I got bold and dressed for church in a pair of slacks. When Dad told me to go put on a skirt I told him with GREAT confidence that God didn’t care what I wore. Dad gave me THAT look and said, “I do.”

These days I sometimes wear pants to church. But they’re always nice pants. And I still like to put on a pretty dress or skirt of a Sunday morning. It makes me feel like I’m getting dressed up for God.

I go to a rural church and quite a few members of the congregation wear blue jeans or casual clothes and I think that’s just fine. The clothes are always clean and neat. Shirts are tucked in. Ladies aren’t showing too much skin. Hats are off. We may be more casual than we were 20 or 30 years ago, but it’s clear everyone is making an effort.

Not so when my husband took me out to a VERY nice restaurant to celebrate the release of my novella. This is the sort of restaurant you go to once every year or so for a big-time celebration. Ritzy. Swank. The wait staff dresses to the nines. They give you napkins color-coordinated to your clothes and they use those little crumb scrapers between courses. A lovely treat.

So we dressed up. I wore a little black dress with fabulous heels and my husband had on dress pants with a nice shirt. My purse matched my shoes. We arrived and were seated and looked around.

We were the only people under 60 who looked, well, like we hadn’t just rolled out of bed and pulled on whatever we could find. Jeans and t-shirts. Ratty cargo shorts. Tennis shoes that probably needed to be tossed. Guys who, I’m hoping, had just stepped off the golf course. Clearly they could afford decent clothes if they could afford the food. So why the not just casual, but downright ratty attire?

Seriously, I’m asking.
-Is it that people just don’t care?
-Are they too self-absorbed to bother?
-Have the standards really and truly changed leaving me in the dust?
-Is it a lack of respect–for self and others?

I’m interested to hear what you think. Either which way, I’ve decided that, like my father on that long ago Sunday morning, I do care. And I’m going to keep dressing nicely. I think it’s a good way to show respect for myself and for the situation. A good way to let people know I’m willing to make an effort.

16 thoughts on “Am I an Old Fogey?

  1. It’s happening everywhere. People used to dress up for concerts and plays too. When Gerry and I went to see The Lion King (Broadway musical) in Dublin, he wore a suit and I also dressed up … and we were surrounded, as you note, by people in jeans. (sigh) With a professional musician son I have spent a LOT of my life going to recitals and concerts and my one rule (for myself) no matter how busy, was that I wore a skirt, because to me it was a measure of respect. Obviously I am an old fogey. 🙂 But I don’t care. And I don’t think the casually dressed folks care that I dress up … so I’ll keep doing it. I don’t expect to change anyone’s mind—and I’m not changing mine either. So good on ya!

  2. “napkins color-coordinated to your clothes”? Say what? I’ve never heard of that and I’ve been to a few really swanky joints during my long lifetime. I like good food, and I like nice places, but I’m afraid I would not be welcome in such a high-falootin’ eatery. Crumb scrapers between courses? Heck, they’d have to assign a full-time crumb scraper for my table of install a downdraft vacuum vent on my table top because anytime I get within ten feet of anything crunchy or crumby, the fallout is instant and abounding. I have a rule of thumb for restaurants I visit. When the foofoo factor (tiny portions in the middle of huge china plates with who-knows-what colored drizzles to make the plate look more full) outweighs the food factor (actual food hiding the plate surface), then you can guess which establishment I’m driving past to get to the other. Don’t get me wrong, high-falootin’ foofoo food purveyors operate nice restaurants and many people like to eat there (which is fine), but they’re not for me. It’s no fun for me to eat in a place where crumbs hitting the table cloth can actually be heard across the room by the designated-crumb-scraper-of-the-day. When they pay more attention to the color-coordinated lap protectors, the drizzle design of the day, and how miniscule, decorative, and architecturally constructed they can make the servings appear, then I am clearly the one who is out of line for that place.

    Signed,

    Out Of Step And Happy Albeit Crumby Steve

    1. Actually, it wasn’t foo-foo at all. Big ole steaks in sizzling butter! As for the napkins, they give you black if you’re wearing black so you don’t get white lint on your nice clothes. Although, as noted, we were among the few actually wearing nice clothes!

      1. Sounds like Ruth’s Chris, which is A-OK with me. It’s expensive, but definitely not foofoo. Excellent meat excellently prepared, and you don’t get to see the plate until after you eat the steak. My kind of joint!

  3. Aunt Pat

    Sarah, I am a generation older than you , so I’ve already accepted the title of ‘Ol’ Fogey.’ I agree with you that I always dress nicely for church. After all, it is a sanctuary and one should put forth a little extra effort. I have a strong pet peeve about men refusing to take off their ratty ballcaps in a restaurant. That just immediately takes the ambiance a notch or two for me. I saw a man get into a rant trying to get seated in a ‘jacket and tie required’ restaurant on a cruise. He was in jeans and logo printed t-shirt. Stick to your guns, girl… but also realize you aren’t going to be able to change the thinking of those who disagree. Aunt Pat

  4. wendylawton

    I guess I’ll join your old-fogey club. I’ve always felt that we need to dress appropriately for each event. So many tried-and-true old rules of thumb– the speaker should always dress one notch above the audience. Business attire shows respect. And for most people dressing up is fun– it marks an occasion. And now, with photos showing up on Facebook and Instagram for every single day of a person’s life, we need to honor the red carpet-like events, right?

  5. mom

    well, you know my first question is what did you eat… 😉 As for attire, I can’t remember the last time I wore a dress. As for “dressed up” probably when you and Jim took us to that nice place for Mother’s Day. I wear jeans almost everywhere, but I am clean and neat with nice blouse. That is for comfort reasons due to personal issues. There are places and events I don’t go to/attend because I am unable to dress the way I think I should. Caps/hats do NOT belong at the table no matter where you dine. Same goes for to much exposed skin and ratty clothes!

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