I come from a culture where one has “Sunday clothes”.
The closet of my youth held multiple t-shirts, jeans, shorts, maybe a couple of polo shirts. Then, off to the side, was one button down, one pair of slacks, and one lonely tie. Those were the Sunday clothes. The shirt and pants would change as one was grown out of, and was then replaced, but the tie stayed the same. I had that one maroon tie with little white dots, from age 12-19.
It wasn’t just me. I was a bit dressier than most of my peers solely because I wore boat shoes on the weekdays as well. I remember being asked “why are you wearing your Sunday shoes?”
I still on occasion hear echoes from my memory when I leave the house in a tie on a weekday, “where are you going all dressed up?” or even better, “who are you dressed up as?”
Maybe this is why I find fascinating the world of style. I like to look nice, most everyone does, but what that looks like to different groups in different times is subjective and riddled with unwritten rules.
I like art. Rather, I like to look at art. I painted my first painting while in college not as part of a project, or to express myself, but because my walls were bare and so was my wallet. I wanted something cool to look at.
All of this came together while I was sitting at a desk in the Princeton archives looking at stacks of old football programs. Here was page after page of illustrations advertising the fashions of the day. Some of these ads were more than 100 years old, most were more like 85, but they all looked great.
The clothes and the art, both, met the definition of what I seek; they were cool to look at.
The images, like all advertisements, depict not only what you want, but who you want to be.
Isn’t that what style is? Showing who you want to be? maybe it is who we already are, but these illustrations are obviously aspirational.
I do not always dress the way I would like. There are obstacles, just like in all aspects of life; my wallet, my waist line, my schedule and the sort of tasks that fill it.
I do not always paint the way I would like. There are obstacles; time, laziness, skill level, did I say lazy already?
Sometimes, not too often the further time takes me from those days, but every now and again, the obstacles come from where and when I came from. But forget all that.
Just wear and paint things you think are cool to look at… as long as it is within the guidlines set up by whatever function you are about to attend as is indicated by the byline on the invitation reading, “dressy casual evening attire.”