Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Fashion and the man

And then there's me.

Did I mention that I went to a funeral on Friday?  Actually, I believe I did.  Sue, whose funeral it was, had been a friend of the Old Bat since they were Girl Guides together.  She had been a frequent visitor to us over the years, usually arriving quite some time after we had expected her.  Sue was one of those people who just could not be on time for anything.  I always teased her that she would be late for her own funeral - and she was!  Which was just as well as we were, too, having been held up in the traffic.

I had dressed suitably, as I thought, for the occasion.  Dark lounge suit (the only one I possess anyway), pale lilac shirt (the white one doesn't fasten at the collar any longer) and black tie.  I wouldn't usually dress like that to do the supermarket shopping, but needs must.  There would be no time to come back home, change, and then drive to collect the Old Bat from her session in the oxygen chamber.

The number of people attending the funeral surprised me, but I was also surprised that, apart from members of Sue's family, Chris, Ron and I seemed to be the only men wearing ties.  (Chris and Ron's wives are also long-standing friends of the Old Bat having been in Guides together.)  Am I really so far behind the times in terms of fashion?  What did surprise me was the number of men of about my age - OK, maybe a bit younger, but still retired - who wore no ties.  Or jackets, either, in some cases.

I recall that when I was still in my teens, I would never take a girl out for the evening without putting on a jacket and tie.  It didn't matter where we were going - to the pictures or just out for a coffee - a jacket and tie was de rigeur.  Come to that, it was for a walk on the Downs on Sunday afternoons in summer.  And that was while I was still at school.  When I started work, I was expected to wear a lounge suit Monday to Friday.  We were permitted to dress down on Saturday mornings by wearing a sports coat instead of a suit!

So I'm talking fifty years ago - that's half a century! - and understandably things change in that time.  The standard apparel for our Lions meetings has changed.  When I joined the club 25 years ago it was expected that everybody would wear a jacket and tie for meetings (and I mean everybody as there were no women members back then).  Some years ago we had a good summer and it was suggested that the dress code for business meetings should be relaxed, just for the summer and just for business meetings; dinner meetings would still call for the jacket and tie.  Somehow that relaxation for business meetings spread throughout the year, and now it has even spread to dinner meetings, although nobody has ever said anything.  It's just happened.

Even our Lions' Charter Nights are not what they were.  (Charter Nights are the annual birthday bashes for the clubs.)  Here in England they were always DJs for men and long dresses ("posh frocks") for the ladies.  Most men still wear DJs but the posh frocks have been put back in the wardrobes and cocktail dresses are now more usual.  The number of men wearing lounge suits instead of DJs is increasing rapidly.

I suppose it marks a lowering of standards generally.  Well, some would call it a lowering of standards; others would say different.  I have never been one of the class of people that changes for dinner, by which I mean changes into evening dress.  But all the same, I do sometimes regret the loss of a certain formality.  Like not leaving the dinner table before the loyal toast at a formal do.  Somehow it seems to me to indicate a certain lack of respect.  Which brings us back to the black tie for a funeral.


There was fog across the Downs first thing yesterday but that cleared fairly quickly and we had a glorious day.  The fog had almost cleared by the time I managed to get away from the kitchen sink to take a picture.


The Broad said...

You and my husband are of like mind! Up here in the 'North' people do still seem to wear suits and ties for weddings and funerals though.

At long last it's a nice day up here -- hope it doesn't mean that as of tomorrow 'summer' is over!

Brighton Pensioner said...

And I bet that like me, your husband is only too glad to whip off the tie and undo the top button!

Buck said...

One of my granddaughters got married recently and I was appalled at the "casual" nature of the event. The only men in suits were the groom, the father of the bride, and me. So, yeah... I hear ya. I suppose I'm "of a certain age" myself. Yet still, I expect one would render the courtesy of dressing for the occasion. Is that too much to ask? Apparently so.