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Getting a dressing-down for not dressing up

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Central Indiana men, it’s time somebody told you. You have taken the notion of Casual Friday to an unattractive extreme.

We must go back a couple of weeks to a Friday night date at a white-tablecloth restaurant in Indianapolis, a really nice place where they actually bring the food to your table, on a plate, instead of putting it in a bag and throwing it at you though a drive-up window.

This was the kind of place where you can easily spend three figures on a meal and not mind too much because the food, service and atmosphere are so good. It’s the sort of place most of us non-oligarchs save for special occasions (i.e., Date Night). And it’s the sort of place where you dress up a little bit in order to match the surroundings (and, in the case of Date Night, impress your companion). Or so you would think.

I was one of two — two, count ’em, two — male customers that evening to wear a jacket and tie. (Yes, smart alecks, I also wore pants. Sheesh. Everybody’s a comedian.)

Anyway, that’s what gave me pause. Out of dozens of men in this really nice restaurant, I was one of a measly two who dressed up a little.

Most were in the standard Hoosier adult male uniform of polo shirt and khaki pants with tennis shoes. A few wore dress shirts instead of polos, and a few substituted jeans for the khakis. You would have thought it was taco night at a chain restaurant out by the mall. But that’s not where we were.

There were two younger men, in their 20s I’d say, who pushed casual right over the edge into slob. One wore shorts, a T-shirt and boat shoes. I am not kidding. He looked like he was dressed for gym class. Another sat through an entire meal with a baseball cap (worn backward, of course) perched atop his apparently-empty head.

I have to pause here to contrast this experience with one about a month ago, at a similar restaurant in Dallas (where most of the men were wearing jackets and ties, I might add). A young man there was also seated at a table with his hat on, only it was cocked ace-deuce instead of bass-ackward. An older woman walked up to the table and told him in no uncertain terms to take off his lid while dining. He did, too. And no, I don’t think it was his mom.

Now, men, you might be wondering why I am making such a fuss. After all, it doesn’t really make any difference, does it? You can’t judge a book by its cover and all that, right?

Well, no. I remember my old Latin teacher, Mrs. Grabill, and the first thing she ever taught us: Vestis virum reddit. Clothes make the man.

Or, to put it in more practical terms:

I surveyed the young women in one of the classes I teach, and to a woman they agreed with ZZ Top: Every woman is crazy about a sharp-dressed man. They all said that — everything else being equal — they’d go for the man who knows how (and when) to dress up, every time.

These are smart, attractive women, and they like a man who can dress.

If that’s not reason enough to put on a necktie, I don’t know what is.

Mike Redmond is an author, journalist, humorist and speaker. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.

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