Skip to comments.Nice jeans. But should you really wear them to the opera?
Posted on 03/09/2005 9:47:25 AM PST by qam1
NEW YORK They've been part of the American "uniform" for years, worn to casual restaurants, house parties, and some workplaces.
But as jeans become more expensive, they are also becoming more ubiquitous, showing up everywhere from Midwestern churches to Broadway shows. Nothing is off limits, it seems. Or is it? Among those who buy high-priced, designer denim or who simply don jeans frequently - there's debate about where it's appropriate to wear them.
The tug of war over jeans etiquette is particularly prevalent in New York City. Here, people tend to be more creative about their appearance, and are often more demanding about how fashion-conscious people should look, says Dannielle Romano, editor at large for DailyCandy.com, a fashion and trends website.
Many 20- and 30-somethings here have theater backgrounds, for example, and often say it's inappropriate to wear jeans to theater and other cultural performances out of respect for the performers and the surroundings (even though the venues themselves have no official dress codes).
"I am all in favor of the current denim revolution that we are having, but I do feel that there are times when jeans should be left at home," says Lisa Kerson, a jewelry designer in her early 30s, whose parents insisted that she look nice when going to a play or traveling on a plane. "I still get bothered when I see people wearing jeans to the theater, ballet, opera, etc.," she says in an e-mail.
Melissa Popiel also prefers not to see denim at the theater, or at an engagement party. To her, jeans are OK for a house party or a casual dinner, but not for traditionally dressy places. "I don't like going to cocktail parties and seeing people in jeans," says the advertising executive, who's in her late 20s.
Ms. Popiel estimates she owns about 15 to 20 pairs, including premium brands, and has paid as much as $200 for a pair.
Many others are also paying big bucks for their jeans - from $150 to $1,000 or more per pair. Celebrities, in particular, are making jeans their garb of choice for appearances on talk shows and at some red-carpet events.
That, say fashion experts, sets the tone for the masses, who are encouraged by features like one in the Jan. 24 edition of Us magazine, "Hollywood's 10 Hottest Jeans," complete with suggestions for buying "premium" denim ($140 or more).
The concept of designer jeans is not new, however. They were also hot in the 1970s and 80s.
Are these jeans made for parties?
Etiquette experts offer few hard and fast rules about jeans, but among them are the obvious: Leave them in the closet when you're attending a wedding, or if your workplace bans them.
"A lot of it has to do with the appropriateness of the kind of jean you're wearing," says Peter Post, grandson of manners maven Emily Post and author of the book "Essential Manners for Men."
It comes down to determining if the jeans are for fashion or work. A pair that you do yard work in, for example, are "probably not appropriate to be wearing to a restaurant that night," he explains.
Mr. Post has seen men show up in quality restaurants wearing denim, which doesn't bother him as much as how sloppy their appearance sometimes is.He recalls seeing a man dressed in a T-shirt and old rumpled jeans. "He hadn't taken any care to step it up just a notch, to say to the woman he was with, 'You know, you're really important to me. I want to look good. I want you to look at me and be proud of me,' " he says.
Dark denim is making it easier for men to comfortably wear jeans in the evenings, especially since black jeans are no longer "in." But no matter how hip a certain style may be, some places are still off-limits.
"I probably won't wear them to a funeral," says Robert Smith, a 30- something businessman in Rockton, Ill. But in the past few years he's started wearing them everywhere else - to church and to most work-related functions.
Not the fabric but how it's used
The good news for jeans devotees is that standards for judging people on their appearance are loosening a bit - at least among women under 40. A recent study by Cotton Incorporated indicates that Generation X-age women (26 to 39) are less concerned about first impressions when it comes to dressing than they were 10 years ago, and more often are taking the approach that "you can't judge a book by its cover." The reverse was true for women boomer-age and older.
Alice Harris, author of the book "The Blue Jean," attributes the rise of jeans to casual Fridays in workplaces, which shifted the way people viewed dressing.
"We've actually gone back to a much simpler way of looking at it," suggests Post of the changing attitudes. It's not that certain materials, like denim, are bad. "It's what you've done with that material."
Very well put.
Show respect for the performers?
If I pay $250 for a ticket to see "Tosca" at the Met, I'll wear whatever I damn well please.
Respect for the performers? Fine, when Jose Carreras learns to show respect for tempo and the conductor's beat, and Barbara Daniels has respect for staying on pitch I'll worry about showing respect for them.
besides, I did a mucical in high school once. You can't even SEE the audience past the first few rows. The rest of the house is a black void.
My grandparents told me similar stories about getting really dressed up for flying. I even heard Joan Rivers complaining about how people dress sloppy in first class.
I heard recently of some city that passed a law banning "jailing," which is the wearing of pants that are falling off you, exposing your underwear, etc. (The term comes from the fact that inmates' pants fall off because their belts are taken away.) The fine was only $50, but hey, it's a start.
I needed a coupla pair of jeans last week and in the end I gave up and bought Levi's, even though it pained me to donate money to one of the most liberal companies around. I didn't have time to run from store to store looking for a plain fricking pair of jeans! Everything is either shaped huge like a pair of balloons, or has gaudy designs, or some coloring that makes them look filthy, etc. etc. I wanted PLAIN JEANS. Sheesh.
I hate jeans too! No matter how much they are washed, the seams are still uncomfortable and they are just too hot.
It was tried in both Cleveland heights and somewhere in Virginia.
In both cases the laws failed to pass in the face of lawsuit threats.
technically, dressing is a form of self-expression, and you run smack into Number One.
Certain settings require certain clothing. Wearing jeans to the opera is like wearing a suit to a heavy metal concert.
People used to be raised with an understanding of what was appropriate in certain settings. That seems to have gone by the wayside in our culture.
The level of fashion "elitism" shown by some of the posters is surprising.
If it doesn't say Wrangler on it I don't wear it, other than the one pair of Carhartt's I have while my Wranglers ( 10 pair ) are getting starched at the cleaners.
You haven't seen beauty until you've seen the right cowgirl in a pair of Cruel Girl or Rockies ( old style not that new relaxed sh_t ). Mmm... Mmm... good.
I have a great-aunt who regularly complains that no one dresses up to eat in hotels anymore (i.e., wears white gloves and hats).
What about Baby Phat?
Last Easter, my brother, sis-in-law and I went to a very nice restaurant after church. Other than the ball cap, there were several of these chumps there. We laughed at them.
Properly fitted dress pants are more comfortable than jeans IMO.
In my case, it would depend on the funeral -- i.e. am I going to pay respects, or to verify for myself that the SOB is in fact dead?
I might be a short guy, (5'6"), but even I can't fit into those.
Phat farm gear is SO last year and lame.....
15-20 pairs?? I think I own 2 or 3.
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