Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – “How did men go from the style of dress that civilized men of the Western world dressed in for almost a millennia, how did men go from that to cargo pant shorts, t-shirts, and Crocs? It’s not to say that there’s not a place for t-shirts. Not to say there’s not a place for cargo pant shorts or wearing Crocs. There used to be an adage: The clothes make the man. I ask the question, if the clothes make the man, then what do cargo pant shorts and Crocs make a man?” Check out today’s transcript for the rest….
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: How did men go from the style of dress that civilized men of the Western world dressed in for almost a millennia, how did men go from that to cargo pant shorts, t-shirts, and Crocs? It’s not to say that there’s not a place for t-shirts. Not to say there’s not a place for cargo pant shorts or wearing Crocs. There used to be an adage: The clothes make the man. I ask the question, if the clothes make the man, then what do cargo pant shorts and Crocs make a man? Well, they make him ignorant and dismissive of his fellow man. By definition, you have dropped an opportunity for dignity. There is dignity in dress. Dress can’t make the undignified dignified, but dress can make the borderline more dignified.
For quite a few years now, academic philosophers and sociologists, as well as popular social commentators who get paid to pronounce on such matters, have been telling us that people have been abandoning their formal personas in favor of the whims and behavior of their individual selves. The point of all the ink seems to be that public ritual behavior has given way to personal freedom, and that while we all used to have two personas, a public one and a private one, we now only have a private one which has gone public.
Mike: This is just an extension of the social media self. How many times have you heard: I went and posted it on Facebook? That’s the end of your participation in life then? I went and posted it on Facebook. Oh, that changed the world, didn’t it? You may be able to suggest and rally people to charity on Facebook, but you can’t do it. You may be able to encourage people to feed the hungry, but you can’t actually do it. [mocking] “Mitter Church, you can buy them a pizza.” You don’t need Facebook to do that. Get a phone book out, call Domino’s, done. His larger point here about dress strikes me as accurate.
Richard Sennett’s The Fall of Public Man appeared in 1977, followed by Christopher Lasch’s The Culture of Narcissism in 1979, and then the deluge. The publishing climax may well have come in 2000 with Robert Putnam’s Bowling Alone, in which Putnam argued that individuals were increasingly disconnected from one another and social structures.
While not putting an emphasis on dress itself, most commentators who have discussed the relationship between the public and private person have made reference to both dress and manners when discussing the abandonment of the formal public self . . .
Mike: I’ve got to say this again, probably the five millionth time I’ve mentioned this. Ladies, why do you think it’s appropriate to go shopping in the middle of the day at Piggly Wiggly dressed like you just rolled out of bed, with your flannel pajama pants on that says “Pink” written across the back, your powder puff pink night tank top, and whatever brassiere it was you’re wearing, and I hope you have one of those on. And, of course, a form of some form of sandal. This is totally inappropriate. Gentlemen, what makes you think it’s appropriate to go shopping at Piggly Wiggly in the middle of the day in a tank top and flip flops and a natted-up pair of cargo shorts? That’s public dress. Do you see the person between a public person and a private person?
We used to have this distinction before Facebook and Twitter and social media destroyed everyone’s perception of who they are and how they interact with anyone else. Today interaction is judged as how you interact with someone if you’re on Twitter, how you interact with someone if they’re on Facebook. Don’t Facebook message me the announcement that somebody died. I want a call. How about a phone call? I get letters from people sometimes.
As a matter of fact, looking back, I used to get a letter a week from a gentleman out in California. Again, this is when I was someone on something that I helped create called Sirius XM Patriot Channel. He’d actually write me on real paper with a quill pen. He’d take a wax seal with his crest in it and seal the letter and mail it to me. I’d get them and I did write back a few times. As soon as the bottom fell out, Mike can’t be found. I figured out how to install a satellite radio in my car and run 600 feet of speaker wire cable and antennas, but I ain’t figured out how to download an app on my phone, connect to it via Bluetooth and listen to the Crusade Channel in pristine, clear stereo that satellite radio, for its talk channels, just cannot deliver. It can’t and it doesn’t. It’s not even attempting to deliver it. You can still hear Wilkow and Webb and you can hear the codex squelching the audio. [mocking] “Mitter Church, please. That doesn’t matter. It’s ease of use.” You don’t spend all your time in the car, do you?
I stopped getting the letters was the point. It was a real form of communication. I actually miss getting the letters. That guy actually took the time to write. Who writes anymore? When’s the last time – I’m trying to remember the last time I actually sat down and wrote a letter, actually wrote one.
My point about going out in public with the Crocs and cargo shorts and pajama pants and powder puff pink tank top is that that’s your private self, ma’am. That’s not for my consumption. Do you have a freaking husband? Does he know you’re out traipsing around town like that? That’s your private self. You see, the line has been blurred. You know why? Because the private chick can sit at her computer, and so can a guy, and they perceive of that as being public now. I was public on Facebook while I was in my pajama pants and my powder puff pink tank top. So why can’t I go actual public? That’s a virtual public. It’s not a real public. Again, you see how the internet, people’s obsession with it, has turned them into social media zombies? The only thing they’re not doing is, when they’re out in the plaid night pants with the powder puff tank top, is roam around searching for brains to eat. It’s coming. Don’t worry.
. . . “A ‘gentleman’ no longer tipped his symbolic hat to a ‘lady’ to show the conventional respect due her sex; he no longer had a hat to tip.” And no one doubts that the hat is gone, as well as the suit, the tie, and the polished leather oxford. The word I’m searching for is casualization. There’s been, in the past couple of decades, a Great Casualization of the business wardrobe. The suits and white dress shirts and discreet ties that most businessmen wore for a hundred years and more started to disappear after the 1970s. When this casual business trend began in earnest in the following decade, fashion writers started referring to it as “the third wardrobe”—an alternative to both the tailored business clothes and athletic-inspired clothing that had traditionally comprised a man’s wardrobe for much of the twentieth century. Today, traditionally tailored clothing—suits, sports coats, and their accompanying accessories—might legitimately be considered the third wardrobe, a luxury wardrobe worn for dressy occasions by many, and daily by those in positions of real power in society.
To complicate things even more, there has been the gradual gentrification of the proletarian wardrobe since mid-century: the work-wear of what used to be known as “blue-collar” workers, clothes that included blue chambray and denim work shirts and trousers (jeans), civilian uniforms of various types (postal workers, garage mechanics, etc.) . . .
Mike: There’s a commercial. Cintas did a series of commercials. What’s the difference between a guy that’s running down the street with your hanger bag filled with clothes and the guy that’s running down the street with your hanger bag filled with clothes who is in a finely-tailored bellhop suit? The bellhop, you gave him your clothes. The other guy, he stole them. That’s the difference.
End Mike Church Show Transcript