While at lunch the other day, my grandfather exclaimed, “Isn’t your generation capable of producing anything but memes?!” I immediately took a defensive posture, chastising him and his contemporaries for their unironic exuberance in fighting and winning World War II. As he sat speechless, I thought more introspectively–was he right? Is “good guy greg” our only worthy creation?
My despair ended, however, after reading a recent article in the Wall Street Journal. Evidently, American youths have absolved all of their cultural listlessness with one fell swoop: Formal Friday. As you might imagine, Formal Friday is an informal dress policy to dress formally on Fridays. It is a brilliant satire of the casual Friday hoisted upon us by the Comfort Mongers of the Baby Boom generation.
Before you scoff at the significance of this nascent convention, understand this: the devolution in American dress habits is inseparable from American decline. In the 1950’s, Americans wore suits to work. During that time, we resisted the spread of Communism, nurtured the largest middle class in world history and rebuilt Europe just because we could. In the 1950’s, Chinese Communist Party leaders wore Mao suits and pretty much starved their people to death on purpose. Now, American leaders wear polo shirts; Chinese leaders wear real suits, and we are indebted to China by some unfathomable figure that I don’t feel like looking up. The formality-geopolitical power relationship is obvious!
Indeed, this same pattern can be seen throughout human history. Just ask Edward Gibbon, author of the historical classic, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (available on Librophile). Though no one has ever truthfully read the book due to its oppressive length, Gibbon scholars agree that Gibbon likely hypothesized that the central cause of the fall of Rome was not a war, not over-expansion, not dinosaurs. Rather, it was moral decay precipitated by a tweak in the centurion dress code from Super 120’s wool to a sort of flannel, pajama-pants material.
Tomorrow, do your part to stop our national descent—wear something nice. I suggest something relatively dressy without being too serious. Wear a suit or a nice blazer with slacks. Accent your outfit with a bit more color than you would at a conservative business event. You will look great, especially next to your denim clad coworkers.