A conservative news and views blog.

Location: St. Louis, Missouri, United States

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Clothes Make the Man

Timothy Birdnow Here is an interesting article, one that at first glance appears to be a blast from the past. The author has chosen the topic of modesty and attire to discuss, and he makes a very solid case for "clothes make the man" or, rather, that our modern decline in standards of dress has led us into a world of eternal teenagers, a place where everyone remains immature because they won't accept any restrictions on their personal comfort. While this is a religious article, written from the standpoint of a devout Catholic, it is appropriate for everyone. Here are a few passages: "“I love vulgarity. Good taste is death, vulgarity is life."1 These words by English fashion designer Mary Quant, who took credit for inventing the miniskirt and hot pants2, reveal one of the most important, though rarely pointed out, aspects of the “fashion revolution” that started in the sixties: vulgarity. Indeed, fashions have increasingly tended toward vulgarity. Vulgarity not only tramples upon good taste and decorum but reflects a mentality opposed to all order and discipline and to every kind of restraint, be it esthetic, moral or social, and which ultimately suggests a completely “liberated” standard of behavior." [...] "One could object that “the habit does not make the monk.” The fact that a person dresses with distinction and elegance does not mean, of itself, that he has good principles and good behavior. Likewise, the fact that a person always wears casual dress does not necessarily indicate that he has bad principles or a reprehensible conduct. At first sight, the argument appears logical and even obvious. However, analyzed in depth, it does not stand. True, the habit does not make the monk. Nevertheless, it is a strong element that identifies him. Furthermore, it influences not only the way people look at the monk but the way he looks at himself. No one will deny that the loss of identity by many nuns and monks that took place over the last forty years was largely due to their shedding the traditional habits, which adequately expressed the spirit of poverty, chastity and obedience, as well as an ascetic lifestyle proper to consecrated persons." [...] "Wearing a certain type of clothing constitutes a form of behavior; and when clothing no longer adequately reflect our tendencies, principles and convictions, one’s mentality begins to undergo an imperceptible change to remain ‘in sync’ with the way one presents oneself. This is because human reason, by the force of logic inherent in it, naturally seeks to establish consistency between thought and behavior. This rule is magnificently summed up in the famous phrase of French writer Paul Bourget: "One must live as one thinks, under pain of sooner or later ending up thinking as one has lived." End excerpts. And these are profound observations. The manner of dress has declined because our manner of thought has declined. "As a man thinketh so shall he be" the Bible admonishes, and Western culture has become crass, vulgar, lazy, shallow, and hypersexualized, and our mode of dress has likewise. Ditto our speech. These are not necessarily the CAUSE of our decline but are an integral part of it, a symbiote. And this decline started first as ideas, as concepts created in the Universities and among the Intelligentsia, in the coffee houses, in the political chambers. They were the act of rebellion against the old order. Anyone who remembers the 1960's will tell you that the hippie culture, which was promoted so heavily by the media, was purely a rebellion against the cultural standards of the previous generation. Clothes were a huge part of that movement; t-shirts, cutoff jeans, sandals, long hair, all were an act of rebellion. The hippie was saying to society "I condemn thee, and I stand in solidarity with others who condemn thee." But this sort of thing didn't start with the hippies. We have seen an erosion of standards of dress for some time. If you are a revolutionary you will change the standard of dress. Look at the Mao jacket, for instance; Mao demanded everyone wear that prison garb to make them FEEL like different people. It's the reason prisoners wear uniforms, or military. When you join the military you get a buzz haircut and don military garb. It's intended to change the way you think, to make you think and feel like a soldier. If you wish to fundamentally remake society you will first change they way that society dresses and speaks. And the Sexual Revolution was a successor to the Free Love Movement, but the Free Love types lacked the ability to change the way people dressed, so their revolution fizzled. Miniskirts, hotpants, french bikinis gave the Sexual Revolution it's engine, because now people could stimulate their libidos in everyday life. It's hard to get aroused by a woman in a burkha, for instance, and it was hard to overstimulate when women were laced up in corsets and enormous dresses, or men sealed in layers of suits. But now with women acting as walking fornication advertisements, with men ambling about like cavemen on the hunt for mates, the sexual revolution can blossom. The death of modesty is the handmaiden of the sexual baccanalia we are now privvy to in America. While I prefer casual dress to formal, and wonder if perhaps we hadn't gone too far during the Victorian era with excessive modesty, I have to admit that the manner of dress in the present is astonishing, and not in a good way. Comedian Henny Youngman once made the case against strip clubs (I don't have the quote in front of me so it's a paraphrase): "They say strip clubs are degrading to women?! I'm the one wandering the streets at 5 a.m. flat broke with a (state of sexual excitement) and they say it's degrading to WOMEN!" Of course, Youngman was shooting for cheap laughs with blue humor here, but he actually has a great point. Granted, the purpose of a strip club is to foster sexual arousal, but is it so different than a day at the beach? Women are in various stages of undress there, and some (such as those in thong bikinis) are essentially naked. A man may not go to the beach to be sexually aroused, but that is the net effect. We are all strippers now. Men too. And so the Sexual Revolutions grinds on, breaking up families, destroying marriages, causing out-of-wedlock births to teenage mothers, transmitting venereal diseases, causing emotional torments, and shattering lives. In the process increasingly the populace becomes wards of the State, eternal children being cared for by the great white papa in Washington. We have welfare programs, SSI, school breakfast and lunch programs, Section 8 housing, etc. etc. Consider the housing bubble; it was caused by the infusion of government money into the real estate market, and that was done in the interest of "affordable housing". Now, why did we need affordable housing? What was the pressing need? It was because so many families are broken, with one parent or two under employed parents. There are so many broken families because of the sexual revolution, and we can thank those daisy duke shorts, those halter tops, those open midriffs for our trouble. So it can be argued that immodesty is responsible for the economic crash that hit America in 2008, at least in part. And it's the thing dragging us down to the ashbin of history We have to restore some sanity to our mode of dress. Ditto our speech, which has become hypersexualized and vulgar. Language is the currency of our thoughts, after all, and if it is course and ignorant we will be course and ignorant. Couple immodesty and vulgarity of speech and you have a decadent people. A People who must be controlled. This is the path to tyranny.

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