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Double-Breasted Thursday: An Experiment in Blue and Brown. . .

 The upper half early today after a sip of fresh dark roast.

And. the lower half just before I began entering some team-led discussion grades into an online course page where students can keep track of their progress 24/7.  That''s the theory at any rate.  You would be surprised how few students actually do that.

On the way home yesterday, I stopped by the local shopping mall to pick up two dozen new white t-shirts.  Periodically (every three or four years or so), it makes sense to start fresh even when they have no holes or tears.  With time and wear, and regardless of any claims made to the contrary on the packaging, all cotton t-shirts will shrink, lose their shape a bit, seams may come undone, and they lose their whiteness.  Time to do something about that.  So, I parked the car and ducked inside to purchase a few packages of my preferred Stafford 100% cotton crew neck t-shirts.

What an education and an eye-opening experience it was to walk through the fairly empty (at that point in the day) mall, something I have not done for several years.

It finally occurred to me why so much of the population now dresses like street toughs, gang members, petty criminals, and meth heads with their hoods up to obscure their faces.  Almost all stores, from larger department outlets like Macy's and Penny's to smaller specialty boutiques prominently display and sell horribly overpriced sweatpants and hooded sweatshirts with oversized designer names, logos, or abysmally ugly graphics on the front, or in the case of items for girls and women, across the rear end (to the tune of "PINK," "Bootylicious," etc.).  This is what is marketed to the consumer in the vast middle and what drives current levels of "taste" [sic].   Clearly, this type of attire is what has again been deemed "it" for the coming holiday shopping season based on all of the holiday window and store displays already in place.

So there we have it.  My long sought answer at last.  This is why so many people dress so terribly in 2018.  It is what hangs on the racks in the stores to buy and is marketed to the masses as currently fashionable, so they buy it hook, line, and sinker.  Yep.  It's judgemental but there you are.  Yep, it's snobby and elitist, and that is unsavory to many.  However, leaving the house dressed like this, along with the often enough accompanying outlook and behaviors, is also far removed from my own upbringing and mindset that it might as well be a planet in another galaxy.  I know, I know.  "Check your privilege!" whatever that actually means.  Probably different things to different people.

In any case, people look like crap (there is simply no other word for it), and that is largely due to the kinds of one-size-fits-almost-all clothing that is sold to them.  It cannot cost clothing giants much to produce, but its retail price can be horribly inflated, and, worse, millions will purchase and wear it quite happily.  It can only be a matter of time before sweats begin turning up in most offices.  My understanding is that the so called hoodie has already made the leap.  I certainly see enough of them on library staff here at MSU. 

As a rather horsey looking tall, thin young woman intoned in a series of Old Navy TV ads way back in the spring of 2001, "Ya gotta get this look!"  Clearly millions across the U.S. have bought into this particular "look" and see nothing unsavory about it since perceived comfort now trumps all else as well as any remaining vestiges of propriety that might linger here and there like cobwebs.   As long as we can squeeze our oversized selves into something without buttoning it, tucking it in, or wearing a belt, who cares about dressing like the some of the most peripheral members of society?  Very few apparently.  How sad that we -- a society that weathered The Great Depression, helped defeat Nazism, outlasted the Soviet Union, and put men on the moon -- have come to this. 

My t-shirt run yesterday was a terrific a-ha moment but also a horrible instant of realization.  There is nowhere left to go.  As a society, we have reached the nadir of taste in acceptable public attire.  Next time, I'll just order t-shirts through Amazon and avoid the mall all together.  Like a nasty sunburn after a long day of careless overindulgence at the beach without sunscreen, my eyes and skin still smart from yesterday's brief sojourn into the real world. 

-- Heinz-Ulrich


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