Casual decay?

Posted: August 22, 2011 by terryvandrovec in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

It’s football season. Not sure if you’ve heard that or not.

Of course, you have. Everyone has. The game is now, without any question, the official sport of the U.S. and A. Accentuating that point, I watched – on purpose – part of the Vikings-Seahawks contest Saturday night, a meaningless exhibition featuring two teams I care little about.

A new year means new football fashions on the field, on the sidelines and in the stands. The common link between the three: Casual. Futuristic fabrics, meandering stripes and jerseys. The only dress clothes are worn by the broadcasters.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick and his infamous hoodie.

It’s a stark contrast to what things looked like in the 1960s, the start of the Super Bowl era. Back then, coaches wore suits and ties and sometimes sharp fedoras. So did many of the fans, if you look closely at classic NFL photos.

Now, coaches wear long-sleeved polos at best and have to get special permission to dress as if they’re going to work. And fans? Well, you’re more likely to find one without sleeves (and teeth) than one wearing a sportcoat.

It’s all casual all the time. Might this be an indication of where we’ve gone wrong as a society?

I’m hardly an expert on international affairs, but it sure seems like things have gotten off track. The national debt is, well, huge and we’re no longer certain to do better financially than our parents. Those seem like fairly important facts.

Think about it: Casual implies something less professional, not quite on point. The more relaxed state of dress within our favorite game may be conveying an attitude of indifference, could be contributing to underachievement.

Remember the saying, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you’ve got”? Well, there seems to be a lot of aspiring hobos.

Certainly, there are some valid reasons for the change in dress. Wealth has accumulated over generations (until now), meaning more disposable income and more clothing options. You didn’t need to wear a suit all the time. And, in theory, comfort could lead to greater productivity – not being buttoned down means more freedom of movement.

Plus, sharp dress alone doesn’t equate to sharp humanity. Take the guys on Mad Men, for example. America was hardly perfect in the 1960s; people just looked better when drinking and degrading women.

Former Cowboys coach Tom Landry was a stylish winner.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m as guilty of this as anybody. Right now, I’m wearing a pair of gym shorts that I’ve had since college, a t-shirt I’ve had since 1995 (seriously), I need a haircut and haven’t shaved in a couple weeks. I also haven’t showered in a couple days. (Don’t ask.) Yes, I’m a hot mess. I’d like to think this post is going as well as it might if I were wearing one of the two suits that I own.

I wear a tie to work maybe seven times a year and usually take some guff from co-workers for it yet there’s no question that I feel more confident and somehow smarter on those days. It sets the tone for my attitude.

In that regard, perhaps my lot in life would be better if I didn’t so often give in to my casual urges. Maybe I’d be living up to the potential I once figured I had. Perhaps my wife would be able to stay at home with the kids, just like most women did when Tom Landry first began roaming the sidelines.

Makes sense, right? And probably worth a shot? Totally agree. Yet I very much doubt that I’ll make any change to my appearance. Why? I don’t know – laziness? The extra cost that’s often associated with being a sharp-dressed man?

Yes and yes. On the other hand, clothes don’t necessarily make the man. Here’s to hoping that we start putting as much thought into our, well, thoughts as we once put into our gridiron wardrobes.

  1. Well, what’s worse: A slovenly Bill Belichick trolling the sidelines in a hoodie with cut-off sleeves or 80-year-old Jack McKeon slumped in the dugout in his Florida Marlins uniform? I get it — the devil’s in the details. I also think it’s possible to overdress for a sporting events. You have to admit that Pat Riley in black Versace would like an asshole (or an agent) if he was coaching the Raiders.

    • I think we have been condoned to think that you can overdress on the sidelines. There was a time when you were a pig for not wearing a suit. Now, you are a jerk for wearing a suit.

  2. shawnfury says:

    I believe the last time I wore a tie was my first communion.

    Hoping someone brings back the sweatpants-on-the-bench look championed by George Raveling.

  3. […] NFL, we get numerous searches every day for people wondering about Bill Belichick’s wardrobe. Terry wrote about the casual wear now popular with NFL coaches, a movement symbolized by Belichick’s hoodie: Bill Belichick sack clothe Bill Belichick […]

  4. Surprising as this may sound (for those who knew me in my youth), I have been wearing a full suit sans coat nearly every workday for over two years. There is less to think about in getting dressed in the morning when it’s always more or less the same in terms of style (because when I go casual, it’s often embarrassingly too casual). When I first started making the transition in dress, the difference in workplace relationships was stark — I was taken more seriously (at a time where my role as “online” advocate was heavily mistrusted), I have been given more credibility, I think, and my position and compensation have improved significantly. I feel more comfortable in my daily dealings around town when I’m well dressed (at the dentist, returning hockey skates, picking up my wife). Also, and perhaps most importantly, I am setting a standard of self-identity for my young family.

    • shawnfury says:

      Joe, the fashion editor at Esquire just got aroused and doesn’t know why. It does sound like you clean up very nicely. (I had an image of the Duke brothers from Trading Places making a bet on whether they could turn you into a well-dressed, confident man. “You’ll earn respect, dentists will treat you with dignity and give you the good novocaine, your family will admire you.”)

      Terry looks good when he’s well-scrubbed. And I’ll admit the times (or time) I dressed up I felt like a different man. Alas, suits and dress-up remain a foreign concept.

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