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Monday, October 21, 2013

Dress up

So I was wondering why so many adult grown men and woman play dress up. First we have the reenactors, the SCA Medieval people, the French and Indian War folks, and all those folks running around fighting the US Civil War all over again. Okay, I get it. The garb fits the time period.

Then we get a further out there with the Steampunk people who dress in what I guess one could call Victorian Science Fiction. They dress in a sort of Victorian garb, but with various levels of embellishment. It's the world of steam powered robots after all. Things are bound to get a bit twisted.

For complete character emulation one has to go to something like a Science Fiction or comic book convention. That's where the cosplay folk come out in droves. There are people dressing up like their favorite characters, with various levels of success. Some are amazing. Other are almost sad. Picture the 300 pound middle aged woman in Star Wars Princess Leia metal bikini. Now stop picturing that before you hurt yourself.

We are in the Halloween season. Remember when it was only one day, and for kids? Now it's one of the biggest holidays in the United States. In Salem Massachusetts, Halloween goes on the whole month of October, but it's a special case.

Why is playing dress up so popular with adults today? A large part of it has to be escapism. They can dress up and assume a persona that's much more exciting than their day to day life.

Then it occurred to me: why can't people dress up and live the lives they want all the time? Is it because most of us wear uniforms? There are those who wear actual uniforms: police, fire, EMS, military, security people and so on. Then there are those who don't wear official uniforms but might as well.

We've all heard of “proper work clothes.” Not all offices require suit and ties, but there are requirements. If you don't think your job has a dress code, come in dressed as a pirate some day and see how that goes over. There are strong pressures to conform. I laughed like crazy when a friend described for me the allowed clothes for casual Fridays. Turns out it wasn't flip flops, cut off jeans and T-shirts.

Dress codes are subtle forms of control. Making people dress alike is part of trying to get them to think alike. I'm actually encouraged that more people are wearing unusual garb on their days off. Maybe it's a sign of them resisting the pressures to conform. Some are even getting dressed up without there being the social sanction of special events. Friends of mine have dressed up in Victorian clothes to go out to tea or a picnic in the park, just for the heck of it.

As for me, my conformity wardrobe is limited. It was difficult to scrape up enough “suitable” clothes for jury duty. In recent years my dress can best be described as “sea hobo.” Ratty shirts, shorts, sandals, sunglasses and my iconografic wide brimmed hat. I guess I've no one to impress and no real job to go to.



  1. I guess where I see problems is when people dress to get attention, rather than to just please them selves. The problem is theirs, not ours, but it strikes me as a little sad.

    1. I'm amused by those rebel, and have a "uniform" all their own. Instead of conforming to most people, they conform to their little group norms.

    2. Ah yes, all the folks with their 'body art' and piercings - they think they are expressing their 'individuality' (eye roll).

    3. . . . just like everybody else. . .

  2. The best dress day Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

  3. I always dress the way I want to, but never to extremes. Most always have cowboy boots, jeans, and a western shirt on. That is my style and I have worn cowboy boots for many, many years. Even when I lived in Pennsylvania. In PA, I had a boss ask me one time if I had horses. I said no, just like cowboy boots.

    1. You have a style all your own, Dizzy!