When Casual is Not Chic!

A couple years ago, we were waiting at the airport to fly home from Paris. It was mid-morning. As I stood in line to check in, I noticed a cute little family huddled in the corner. They looked very French as well as sleepy, slow moving, and yes, very casual. The children (probably preteen age) were all wearing their pajamas. They hadn’t combed their hair at all either. I thought, oh well, maybe they were late. We’ve all had that experience.

Last March we finished our spring vacation in Charleston, South Carolina. I love that old, gentle city with antebellum homes and the soft, sweet accents of the people there. The night before on King Street, Southern style was all around. Ladies were dressing up here for a night out. Be still my heart! However, our last day there, on a Sunday morning in our downtown hotel I was shocked to see grown women lounging in the lobby in their PJs. These were nice sleepwear, but PJs, nonetheless. They were having breakfast and socializing with friends. That sight surprised me.

In general, most fashion experts agree, our society embraces casual and sometimes just barely dressing. “I find it sad to see people in jeans at the theater,” said Michael Pagan, general manager for Harry Denton’s Starlight Room atop the Sir Francis Drake hotel in San Francisco, a place where it was once expected for guests to dress up for a night out. But now?

“Someone in a suit certainly wouldn’t be out of place here, but you’d be surprised at what people wear,” Pagan said. “Tourists you can understand. They’ve been on a long flight, so they come in wearing shorts and stuff. But even people out for the night club girls dress up in the Kim Kardashian kind of little dresses, but at the same time you’ll get the soccer mom type, almost to the point of wearing sweats, carrying backpacks, bad hair. The trend has gone way down for style.”

Pagan equated today’s fashions with texting. “These days, you have people who will always think ‘laugh out loud’ is spelled ‘lol,’” he said. “Extrapolate that out to the way people present themselves abbreviated style, doing what’s fast and easy and look what you get.”

Like it or not, casual dress is here to stay. I do think that casual dress can go too far, at times. I don’t enjoy going to the grocery store and standing next to someone who just mowed the lawn and didn’t bother to change his or her shirt. A whole other issue is wearing exercise wear or swim wear in public. (Again, this is another blog.) I am guilty of this, at times, but I have learned to wear some nice coverups, and make my public visit a short one.

If you like to be comfortable and tend to dress casual very often, I encourage you to invest in some nice structured jackets you can throw over a T-shirt and jeans, or a cotton or knit dress that fits you well. I am also a fan of the dressed-up sneaker or the casual Sperry. My husband wears them to work on Friday–they are never white though!

In fashion, fit, as always, is key–for women as well as women. The cotton dress above, by Gap, is a very pretty cool dress for summer. I like the plain Black because you can dress it up or down. Men, a nice fitting, cotton botton-down shirt always looks professional. Make sure your jeans are dark rinse and of course not frayed at the bottom.

Maybe once in a while, try dressing up. Who knows…you might like it!