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The clothes we wear: Cool, chic, casual -- or just plain sloppy?

Uploaded: Nov 29, 2022
I love clothes! It was important to me since I turned 13. My mother told me at the time (and evermore) that when people meet you, they first judge you by not only whether you’re tall of short, fat or thin, but also by the clothes you wear. It’s always important to look well, she insisted, and she always did – heels when grocery shopping. That was the way I was brought up on the East Coast.

Californians are so much more casual than those who live back East. And for me, it’s hard to shrug off early-upbringing-what-must-I -wear attitude.

Last week, my son and daughter-in-law moved (alas!) from San Jose to a Buffalo suburb because of his job. She grew up there, and told me people dress up so much more wherever they go than we do here. No jeans at church services – ad in never. Ditto for fleece jackets. Trips to grocery stores and pharmacies require skirts and make-up for women, and no shorts for men. Restaurant-goers don a dress shirt for males, and if it’s a fairly expensive eatery, then a tie and jacket.

Yes, a tie! We see few of those in our area these days.

The clothing style in our area has become so casual; many newcomers raise their eyebrows and ask, “Do you have any dress code here?”

Casual sloppy, I respond.

My best example of very sloppy dressing is what an acquaintance, M., wore to a funeral held at Vi on Sand Hill Road. About 150 friends of this CEO attended, the men all dressed in dark suits, shirts and ties, and the women in little black dresses. The funeral candles were lit, somber music was playing. Then M¬¬¬¬¬. arrived in her typical apparel – dressed in “distressed” jeans -- torn worn-looking jeans with threads of fabric across her knee caps, a white tee shirt with “Hawaii” emblazoned across her chest, and torn sneakers. She smiled and sat next to me, leaned over and whispered, “Why are you all so dressed up?” “It’s John’s funeral,” I responded.

I have another friend in Palo Alto who has an “I-wear-what-I want to” attitude, but in her case, she loves to wear fancy clothes. She tells me she doesn’t care what others are wearing –she just likes to overdress. She’s from the East Coast.

Even in my family, there are amazing different attitudes toward dressing. One brother-in-law is dressed in sloppy clothes all day long – mostly sweats. He refuses to put on a dress shirt to go out for dinner, and absolutely refuses to wear a jacket. “We go out for lunch when we eat out,” his wife told me.

Two of my sons who travel for business around the country always wear a shirt and tie. One said when he wears a tie, it really helps him at an airport, especially when a flight is delayed, as often happens.

Typically, n airline agent looks at him and says, “Yes, Mr. Diamond. We will get you on another flight ASAP, sir.” My son told me he noticed that the agent told the man next in line, dressed in a tee shirt and shorts, “No flights until tomorrow morning.” They were both flying to the same place.

It's not fair, I agree. But it is what it is. My mother was right. People do judge you by what you wear.

The latest national style poll indicates that 36 percent of. East Coasters say their style is the best, while 31 percent of West Coasters claim they’re the best dressers in the nation.

So, I went to the Web to see what others are saying:

• “West Coast gals have is the ability to make just about anything feel casual.”
.
• “Compared to other states, people out here in California don’t dress up when running errands or going to the grocery store. It’s their way of life.”

• A woman transplanted here from the East Coast: “I've never seen someone wear a pencil skirt or any kind of blazer here unless they were a lawyer or going to court, and even then, a lot of lawyers I know wear jeans to court!”

We all put on clothes each and every day. So where does this immaterial column about material (clothes) leave us? Where do you males living here stand on wearing a tie for a meeting or party. Is it too demanding – or a nice way to be dressed up? Are jeans now “the” clothing staple? Is sloppy more your way than chic, ladies? Why?

As for me, my East Coast dress heritage prevails.






Democracy.
What is it worth to you?

Comments

Posted by Brian Steen, a resident of Greater Miranda,
on Nov 29, 2022 at 2:01 pm

Brian Steen is a registered user.

I enjoy dressing up for special occasions, not so much for regular activities such as getting groceries.
With the end (almost) of the pandemic I've enjoyed pulling clothes out my closet that I didn't wear for two plus years even if some of them might be considered dressy.


Posted by Priscilla Young, a resident of Community Center,
on Nov 29, 2022 at 2:16 pm

Priscilla Young is a registered user.

It is a generational fashion shift that began with the Baby Boomers.

Our parents and grandparents dressed more appropriately for church, funerals, and when boarding an airplane. My grandfather even wore a suit and fedora to baseball games. Imagine that.

And in high school during the late 1960s, fashion statements were more prevalent than today as class distinction and family affluence were often reflected by the clothes one wore.

Not so today as hoodies and sloppy shorts are standard sartorial accoutrements among our youth regardless of social stratification and in some ways, this is good as it reduces certain predudices based on outward appearances and dress.

Many Baby Boomers are still chasing their long-gone Woodstock dreams and continue to dress haphazardly to reaffirm their commitment against convention and 'the Man.'

This explains in part why we see so many old white men with balding heads and still sporting poneytails. This is not in deference to George Carlin but to their own lost horizons of utopia. And most of the older women who wear their gray hair long look like witches!

It's no surprise that kids today dress like hoodlums while many of their Baby Boomer grandparents dress like refugees from a Jimmy Buffett concert.




Posted by Larry, a resident of Downtown North,
on Nov 29, 2022 at 6:59 pm

Larry is a registered user.

Here in Palo Alto, the dress code changed forever when Steve Jobs started wearing track suits to dinner at Il Fornaio, back when the place was still considered fancy. Steve was no East Coast poser.


Posted by Bystander, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Nov 29, 2022 at 7:11 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg have had a big influence. Teachers in schools here are no longer dressed professionally, so students have no idea what professional attire looks like. It has been said if you overdress for work here, it is assumed you are going to or just back from an interview, either that or you work in Real Estate.


Posted by Jennifer, a resident of another community,
on Nov 29, 2022 at 7:21 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

As long as you look presentable, everything will be all right.


Posted by Daryl Prescott, a resident of Portola Valley,
on Nov 30, 2022 at 8:09 am

Daryl Prescott is a registered user.

I enjoy dressing formal whenever possible because it is very James Bondish and suave. Between Memorial Day & Labor Day, this involves wearing a white dinner jacket and from Labor Day to Memorial Day, a black tuxedo. With the possible exception of a daytime wedding, men's formal wear is always worn after 6PM. Regardless of the seasonal jacket, a formal pleated shirt with studs and cufflinks, a cummerbund or vest, black bowtie, and black patent leather shoes complete the ensemble along with a silk handkerchief in the coat pocket.

Lastly, I add a nice Swiss watch from my collection of vintage timepieces, usually a 18K gold Patek Philippe Caravelle or a platinum Audmars Piguet. Never a tacky Rolex which is not a true dress watch.

I also expect my dinner dates to dress appropriately for the evening which in my book is fashionably tasteful and not overly flashy or cheap-looking as only knuckle-dragging men go for the Stella Dallas look.

Though I do not make the evening rounds as much as I used to, when a man adheres to the 'Playboy After Dark' evening presentation, he can never go wrong as it garners further respect and obsequiousness from the valets, bartenders, food servers, and restaurant management.

The finishing touch is to always tip generously as it impresses women and also rewards the restaurant staff for catering to your every whim.


Posted by Althea Wilkins, a resident of East Palo Alto,
on Nov 30, 2022 at 9:01 am

Althea Wilkins is a registered user.

• The clothes we wear: Cool, chic, casual -- or just plain sloppy?

All things considered, it doesn't matter which of these categories apply because most people look better with clothes on rather than off.


Posted by Anne, a resident of Midtown,
on Nov 30, 2022 at 12:37 pm

Anne is a registered user.

To Priscilla Young:

"And most of the older women who wear their gray hair long look like witches!"

Talk about sexist!

I admire women aren't afraid to go gray.


Posted by Bertram Kelly, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Nov 30, 2022 at 2:47 pm

Bertram Kelly is a registered user.

To Anne of Midtown...

My wife (67) has gray hair and does not color it but she wears her hair short in a pixie-cut (think Peter Pan or Sandy Duncan).

Now if she were to wear her hair really long, she might resemble a witch (albeit a pretty one) but I would never say something along those lines. After 40 years of marriage, I know better.

As for casual dress, anyone who has lived or worked in Hawaii knows that business dress there is very casual. Only. straight-laced police detectives (like in the old Hawaii 50 TV series) wear suits and this distinction is very helpful to those who are inclined to break the law.


Posted by Li Zhao, a resident of Charleston Meadows,
on Dec 1, 2022 at 10:25 am

Li Zhao is a registered user.

A person should not be judged by the clothes they wear. As long as the garments are clean and not full of holes, who cares?


Posted by Lorraine Newberry, a resident of Midtown,
on Dec 1, 2022 at 12:08 pm

Lorraine Newberry is a registered user.

Being a fashionista is a shallow approach to going about life and only the superficial need apply.


Posted by Harold Jenkins, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Dec 1, 2022 at 12:42 pm

Harold Jenkins is a registered user.

Hopefully fur coats from non-endangered species will make a gradual comeback although they are not warranted for California winters.

Sable, mink, and chinchillas can be easily raised while beavers and Nutria Rats are common riverbed inhabitants that face no risk of immediate extinction.

Though PETA may beg to differ, a fur coat is very comfy in the cold and a lot nicer to wear than a down jacket.


Posted by AMRW, a resident of another community,
on Dec 1, 2022 at 8:33 pm

AMRW is a registered user.

Bystander,
When you comment on how teachers dress, please remember that most of them don't have climate control (in other words, no air conditioning) in their classrooms. Also, we're still supposed to keep doors and windows open for air circulation. Have some grace when mentioning teachers.


Posted by Roberta Marquez, a resident of Ventura,
on Dec 2, 2022 at 7:29 am

Roberta Marquez is a registered user.

@AMRW...back in the day, there was no AC in public schools and teachers dressed more professionally than today.

If a teacher is dressed sloppily or similar to the students, that teacher is oftentimes not taken seriously.

A teacher-student hierarchy must be firmly established to ensure discipline, order, and respect.


Posted by Bystander, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Dec 2, 2022 at 7:47 am

Bystander is a registered user.

Teachers are the professionals that children see each day. It is the first time they see people doing a job. It isn't just what is being taught from the textbooks that is important, but things like attitudes to the job that is also being learned by the students. When a teacher dresses in a sloppy fashion, they are learning that it doesn't matter what you wear. If they have sloppy attitudes they learn from that too.

I see pictures of children in charity schools in Africa where they are looking for support from Americans. These children are wearing uniforms. Their buildings may not have all the bells and whistles are schools have, I see pictures of their devices being plugged into extension cords that would scare any electrician here. But the children are wearing uniforms to school and the teachers wear shirt and ties. They are learning manners and they are learning professionalism. I doubt very much if the schools have a/c, but they have standards that will get them far in life.


Posted by Devin Clarke, a resident of another community,
on Dec 2, 2022 at 8:37 am

Devin Clarke is a registered user.

When I was attending elementary school in Marin County, our teacher would arrive dressed in a professional manner but with a clear-cut message, get an education or else you will be relegated to wearing what I am wearing today.

Sometimes he came to school dressed as a fast-food employee, Walmart sales clerk, coffee shop barista, a forklift operator at a warehouse, roadside maintenance worker or a county jail inmate. It was very entertaining and funny at times.

Most of us got the message.


Posted by Gracie, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Dec 2, 2022 at 12:59 pm

Gracie is a registered user.

For people who have the energy and resources to dress up all the time, good for you. However, I'm thinking that Californians use their energy for more important things, such as minimizing polluting activities and maximizing recycling.


Posted by Eric Fontaine, a resident of another community,
on Dec 2, 2022 at 2:25 pm

Eric Fontaine is a registered user.

This topic came up the other day during a conversation with my father-in-law.

He is an Episcopalian priest and has always worn his white collar in public during the midweek.

Lately he has taken to dressing more casually because he does not want to be identified as one during off-hours when he is driving his Porsche or while watching equestrian events in Portola Valley.

He also says it looks bad if he is attired as a priest and seen embibing with his golf buddies at the 19th hole.

The key he says is to keep your public and professional life/attire separate because some people might get the wrong impression.



Posted by Butch Logan, a resident of Barron Park,
on Dec 3, 2022 at 9:22 am

Butch Logan is a registered user.

Comfort should be the only criteria.

There is no need for men to wear neckties anymore. Even politicians on the campaign trail dress more casually these days sans ties and business suits.

Dressing more casually also saves on dry cleaning expenditures.

Only 'clothes-horses' focus on the trivial importance of dressing chic and stylish.


Posted by Callie Forrester, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Dec 3, 2022 at 12:18 pm

Callie Forrester is a registered user.

I grew up in Kentucky and my grandmother used to tell me that once a hen is longer an egg-layer, it becomes a stewing chicken.

When it comes to dressing attractively, younger women should still pay heed as many of them are still attractive to both older and younger men.

Women over 50 need not apply because their egg-laying days are over.


Posted by Reggie Withers, a resident of East Palo Alto,
on Dec 3, 2022 at 2:51 pm

Reggie Withers is a registered user.

I prefer a nicely-dressed woman over 50 because unlike the younger ones, older women got the money and pay the tab.


Posted by Galen Myers, a resident of Stanford,
on Dec 4, 2022 at 9:11 am

Galen Myers is a registered user.

Age appropriate dressing is also a consideration.

If the effort is contrived, older women should not try to look younger than they actually are.

Dispense with the obvious hair colorations, Botox injections, ripped jeans, and strappy sandals.

Age/act with dignity and outfit oneself at Chico's.


Posted by Bill Ferguson, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Dec 4, 2022 at 10:34 am

Bill Ferguson is a registered user.

Interesting topic. I agree that both men and women should dress age appropriate.

Scantilly-clad is best left for the younger women as no man in his right mind appreciates having to witness older women well over 50 dressed as Britney Spears.

And in SoCal where I spend much of my time, if I had a nickel for every old white guy I saw wearing faded cargo shorts and flip-flops with a profound belly protruding from his T-shirt, I could buy another Tesla.


Posted by Anne, a resident of Midtown,
on Dec 4, 2022 at 11:32 am

Anne is a registered user.

I just love it when men provide their opinions about how women should look.

Many of these comments are seriously sexist.


Posted by Anne, a resident of Midtown,
on Dec 4, 2022 at 11:32 am

Anne is a registered user.

I just love it when men provide their opinions about how women should look.

Many of these comments are seriously sexist.


Posted by Lucy Jenkins, a resident of Community Center,
on Dec 4, 2022 at 12:16 pm

Lucy Jenkins is a registered user.

• Many of these comments are seriously sexist.

Not so much sexist but maybe ageist?

Then again, let's go back to the late 1960s...imagine our 'Greatest Generation' parents and grandparents dressed like Woodstock attendees.

Dad would be long-haired and shirtless while Mom was walking around topless.

Very unbecoming and a potential embarrassment to all those concerned.

Being 70 is not the new 40.

My grandparents understood this and did not try to dress like Cher or Prince.

I can understand how some older women might feel a pressing need to appear younger than they actually are because no one wants to feel discarded and/or under-appreciated.

As another poster noted, being perceived as an old 'stewing hen' leaves little to be desired...other than a fine Sunday dinner with dumplings!





Posted by Mariette Faulkner, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Dec 4, 2022 at 1:17 pm

Mariette Faulkner is a registered user.

For a woman to look good regardless of fashion statement, it is imperative that she have a good figure.

@Annette
Most woman dress for other women, not men and there have been countless times when I've heard or overheard other women harshly criticizing another woman's style of dress, shoes, and accessories.

Men could care less about these things providing the woman has a nice body and pays him lavish compliments.

Hardcore feministas with obnoxious "attitude" are oftentimes destined for a life of frustration and loneliness because they are unwilling to bend and play the game.

As James Brown once sang, "This is a man's world but it would be nothing without a woman or a girl."

So gals...fire up an old copy of Jack Jones' "Wives and Lovers" and get with the program.

"Hey little girl, fix your hair and your makeup....time to get ready for love."


Posted by Bette Lange, a resident of Charleston Meadows,
on Dec 4, 2022 at 1:49 pm

Bette Lange is a registered user.

I love that Jack Jones song!

It is a blueprint for a successful marriage and only disgruntled malcontents would find fault with its advisements.

Been happily married for over 50 years by being unliberated but well taken care of.


Posted by Mike Bedrosian, a resident of Los Altos,
on Dec 4, 2022 at 2:08 pm

Mike Bedrosian is a registered user.

• The clothes we wear: Cool, chic, casual -- or just plain sloppy?

In some respects, the LGBTQ and African American communities have more latitude in this area because their definition and idea of being fashionable often differs from mainstream tastes and preferances.


Posted by Gayle Dennison, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Dec 4, 2022 at 3:13 pm

Gayle Dennison is a registered user.

> "the LGBTQ and African American communities have more latitude in this area because their definition and idea of being fashionable often differs from mainstream tastes and preferances."

^ ^ Given the recent tragedy in Colorado Springs, it is probably not a good idea for a male (regardless of age) to publically dress in an openly gay or transgender manner as it can easily give rise to potentially dangerous and hostile situations.

Best to save these personal fashion statement(s) for private gatherings at private residences. It will be better appreciated and perhaps safer.






Posted by Annette, a resident of College Terrace,
on Dec 5, 2022 at 1:57 pm

Annette is a registered user.

Diana Diamond: you have a well-developed knack for unleashing the most revealing comments from our community. Thank you!

I was raised as you were, although out here, not on the East Coast. I enjoy some aspects of casual dressing but do think we've tilted a little too far into sloppy territory. I know that if I was blindfolded and transported to some international airport anywhere in the western world, it would be easy-as-pie to pick out the American travelers. Often seen: pajamas and slippers, leggings and t-shirts that fit like sausage casing, clothes that don't fit at all, dirty clothes, pants and shirts with holes, badly soiled clothes. It's quite a show, really. So is Main Street.

What completely blows my mind: the cost of tattered jeans!


Posted by Hank Davis, a resident of Barron Park,
on Dec 5, 2022 at 4:03 pm

Hank Davis is a registered user.

@Annette...try boarding a non-major airline in a small 3rd world country in the Middle East, SE Asia, or Central America.

The natives often bring small livestock (mostly chickens or goats) onboard and most of them are dressed very shabbily.

There are no flight attendants, onboard movies, 1st class seating, or meals served and the bathroom is one step away from a construction site porta-potty.

These are truly backwards people, not the sloppily dressed upscale Americans that have become common just about anywhere.

Count your blessings.


Posted by Gary Yount, a resident of Barron Park,
on Dec 6, 2022 at 11:19 am

Gary Yount is a registered user.

@Annette:

The passengers paid for their airfare so what difference does it make how they dress? This is America, not a Catholic boarding school.

I'd be more concerned if the pilot, first officer, and flight attendants were wearing (as you noted):

"pajamas and slippers, leggings and t-shirts that fit like sausage casing, clothes that don't fit at all, dirty clothes, pants and shirts with holes, badly soiled clothes."


Posted by Michelle Longley, a resident of Portola Valley,
on Dec 6, 2022 at 1:01 pm

Michelle Longley is a registered user.

"Given the recent tragedy in Colorado Springs, it is probably not a good idea for a male (regardless of age) to publically dress in an openly gay or transgender manner as it can easily give rise to potentially dangerous and hostile situations."

Concurring. My gay nephew dresses like Harry Styles and I have advised him that given the current homophobic climate, he is sending out the wrong message with regards to his fashion preferences.

Why ask for trouble?


Posted by Mac Peterson, a resident of Stanford,
on Dec 7, 2022 at 9:04 am

Mac Peterson is a registered user.

If the kids dress like slobs it is the parent's fault pure & simple because it is the responsibility of the parents to lay down the ground rules for minors.

Adults have more latitude in their dress and personal activities because they are generally no longer under the wing and control of their parents.

The only exceptions might be deadbeat 30-something Millennials and 20-something Gen Zers who are still living at home with their parents. And if they cannot abide by certain house rules (including personal appearance), then they should seek other living arrangements.

There are no ripped jeans, tattoos, body piercings in our house. Our kids know better and fortunately they do not embrace these undertakings.

Wearing hoodies, shorts, and flip-flops are OK but not at church, funerals, job interviews, and weddings.


Posted by Cale Walker, a resident of Barron Park,
on Dec 7, 2022 at 10:05 am

Cale Walker is a registered user.

The key is to differentiate one's public VS private appearances and dressing accordingly. It's that simple.

At home I am always in a tank-top and boxer shorts. My wife just wears an old bra and a sheet-like sarong wrapped around her waist. This is in the privacy of our home so who cares? We even answer the door that way when receiving parcel deliveries from the postman or FedEx documents that require a signature.

When we step out, things are different. I usually wear a Ralph Lauren polo shirt and khaki slacks or chinos while my wife opts for one of her Ann Taylor ensembles.

We have an ongoing joke that hopefully we will never require the services of a paramedic or undertaker while at home.


Posted by Teresa Garrison, a resident of Downtown North,
on Dec 7, 2022 at 12:46 pm

Teresa Garrison is a registered user.

>...deadbeat 30-something Millennials and 20-something Gen Zers who are still living at home with their parents.

We have been cursed with this distasteful scenario ever since the COVID outbreak in 2020. No empty nest for us.

As a result, our 24 & 26 year-old 'children' are now residing at home but under the understanding & agreement that since we are paying all of the household-related bills, they must fully abide by our house rules...just like children.

Thus they have no rights or say until they move out at which time they can eat whatever they want, dress as they please, and stay out as late as they want.

And when one of them complains that it is too expensive to rent or buy a home in the Bay Area, my husband simply offers to buy them a one-way bus ticket to Kentucky. End of conversation.


Posted by Tim Kang, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive,
on Dec 8, 2022 at 9:09 am

Tim Kang is a registered user.

The further west one travels, the more casual the business dress (i.e. Manhattan > Honolulu).

Rural vs urban settings also have an impact on the way people dress.

The SF Bay Area tends to dress more on the casual side as exemplified by countless Silicon Valley workers and suburbanites.

On the other hand, the women's boutiques and salons at Stanford Shopping Center seem to be doing well so there are obviously some women who take pride in their personal appearance.


Posted by Clarissa Ward, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Dec 8, 2022 at 9:23 am

Clarissa Ward is a registered user.

It would be wonderful if the various upscale clothiers in Palo Alto took it upon themselves to provide nicer clothing for our homeless population free of charge via their unsalable customer returns and surplus inventories.

Palo Alto is considered an upscale community and our homeless population should also have an opportunity to look nice.





Then everyone


Posted by Clarissa Ward, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Dec 8, 2022 at 10:17 am

Clarissa Ward is a registered user.

> Then everyone can feel and be a part of our vibrant community!


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