Mar 312014

Now that the snow is gone and the sun is shining, folks are out and about in my neighborhood. We get herds of joggers, flocks of bicycles, and plenty of strollers; both the wheeled kind and the casual walker. The other day I observed what appeared to be a retired couple. Then I wondered,

What about them made me believe they were retired?

In an instant, I concluded that their white “tennies”, blue jeans, and matching fleeces spoke volumes, not only about their station in life but about their values. And, while I have to confess I am not fond of that look from the standpoint of style, I admire the ideals behind the statement they were making.

They said:

  • I don’t have to work anymore; therefore, my life is devoted to leisure.
  • I am still healthy and what I wear must function for activity.
  • I am able to enjoy this stage of life with my companion.

It then occurred to me that, although the SAHM seems to have a similar lifestyle to the retiree, she has a reason to upgrade her look from leisure to casual that the retired person does not have: respect.

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This is, I think, the beginning of a whole new blogging rabbit-trail. Values are, after all, integral to individuality and, therefore, to style idiom. All industries have inherent values. In this month’s Harper’s BAZAAR, Laura Brown discusses her challenges in balancing fashion authority with a professional look, coming out in favor of the pantsuit.

How do other professions express values in dress code?

  3 Responses to “Values in the Workplace”

  1. heh, see below for a doozy
    I used to be engaged to an academic. I can vouch for this stuff. 😀

    I’m interested to hear that retired (old-er) people now automatically have respect in America. Or as my mid-20’s son likes to tell me – I’m old and don’t understand how things are today. 😀 Apparently everything I know about life is outdated now. I prefer to think I have Classic ideas. 😀

    My folks used to have a house in a middle class non-resort town by the ocean. Boardwalk had large number of old age home high rises. Can’t say I ever saw any of those folks but when my boyfriend and I were walking around town we could immediately recognized the retired folk: quite a bit of immaculate white clothing items. Guessing the grandkids or great-grandkids didn’t live with them. Bet anything they had well-kept white or light beige carpeting throughout, too.

  2. Lol. That is awesome! I will have to blog it; I have some friends in the field of anthropology who are just finishing up BAs and/or beginning grad school. 🙂

    There are alot of subtleties in age relationships, but I was thinking that these retired couples just don’t care whether they are respected by others – they respect themselves and each other. I admit we are in a mixed/upscale, established neighborhood; that undoubtedly makes a difference too. Your observations about white fit right in too – older people may show their respectability by being neat and clean, where a 30 yo SAHM may employ a “business-y”, trendy, or slightly more dressed up look.

    I may be over-sensitive still about the “mommy wars” thing, just because I remember so vividly my own contempt for SAHMs before I became one! 😉

  3. […] Speaking of values, as I was earlier in the week, brought this link to my inbox Pandora’s box (follow it at your peril: it leads to what in my experience was a couple hours good reading, if you follow any of the links therein): Conference Chic, or, How to Dress Like an Anthropologist. […]

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