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On dress, and fashion

May 23, 2011

The blog Gastrochic has issued a rather succinct and fair summary of how our people choose to cover their bodies:

‘WASP fashion’ is not fashion at all in the traditional sense. It’s based on practicality, comfort and timelessness, and it doesn’t take itself too seriously. There are few designer labels and even fewer trends. For fashion editors and designers to suggest otherwise is specious at best.

Do clothes matter? Of course they do. The New York tailor Vincent Nicolosi has remarked that “your clothes are an announcement of who you are and how you expect to be treated,” and he’s right. Even those who don’t spend much on clothes are saying something about themselves.

Much hay has been made of “WASP style” or “preppy style.” Like most other terms in wide currency, there is as much disagreement over definitions as there are users of the term, and, even amongst those who have authority to speak of them, these definitions often have regional variations.

But there are some ground rules, which most all of our people, whatever their region, hobbies, or family eccentricities, will agree upon. Natural fibers (fleece is quite excepted). Classic cuts in a style that will not fluctuate with fashion. Quality construction and durability. Some degree of adaptability. A lack of fussiness.

In other words, our people are very basic dressers, even if many do have an affinity for bright, happy colors.

And, lastly, there is something to be said for tribalism. Even those most committed democrats among us will agree. The vast and consumerist middle class is boring, and there are very few within its largely undifferentiated ranks who do not try to set themselves apart in some way, to indicate their own belongingness to some group or clan within which they are accepted and quite at home. It can be as obvious as bowling shirts embroidered with a name or nickname, or as subtle as the wearing of clan tartan by those of Scots descent. The hipsters may try this, but their style is linked only to fashion and the whims of the boutique clothing shops, and is not grounded in school dress codes, countless tomes of etiquette, and the je-ne-sais-quoi that comes from a lifetime of basically doing the same thing, in the same way. It’s easy, natural, attractive, and isn’t this what everyone is really going for in dress anyway?

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