This week I have had the responsibility of attending both a wedding and a wake, big events in the life cycle (right up there with birth). At both of these events, as much as I tried to just be in the moment, I couldn't help but ponder people's sartorial choices.
Really? White? At a wedding?
Really? White? At a wake?
I know we live in a time where people wear jeans to the opera. I've worn jeans to Broadways shows. College students wear pajamas to class. Starlets go without underwear. People buy expensive or fancy or just nice-looking sandals, and then let their crusty, unkempt toes hang out for all to see.
I'm not a body-hair lunatic. If you're a woman and you're rocking a moustache and you don't care about it, that's fine - you go on with your bad Frida Kahlo self. But I think you should be required to make a bit of an effort with the hair on top of your head if you are attending a wedding. At a funeral or wake, you are grieving and I do not expect you to put extraordinary effort into your hair, although I do expect you to be in dark and respectful clothing.
Witnessed this week:
- a guest wearing a white dress at a wedding (not partially white, not a pattern with white in it - a fully white sundress, seriously)
- boobs out for all the world to see - I understand you're young and beautiful and single and at a wedding, but it was very, very difficult for me to carry on a conversation with my husband because I (*I* - not him!) couldn't help but stare at your boobs; they're a beautiful work of nature, to be sure, but could you at least sit up straight?
- a casual Friday work outfit at a wedding where most people were in cocktail attire
- a flouncy miniskirt with no leggings, at a funeral
- leggings but no skirt, same funeral
- v-neck shirts at the funeral that would have only just been appropriate for the wedding
I could go on, but that's a fair enough sampling. I'm not an etiquette lunatic (although, full disclosure: I do own the 900 page Emily Post etiquette book), but I am a big fan and proponent of decorum. There are certain times in life when certain sartorial choices are necessary; weddings and funerals are two big ones.
Yes, we are undergoing the great casualization of America and I love my jeans and sneakers as much as the next person, but the situation must warrant the pairing. Be respectful of the situation. If you have kids, let them know that the skirt is too short for a wake or that they really should button one more button on their shirt. If your dress really needs you to put on some Spanx, then put them on.
It's a bit overwhelming to contemplate a marriage and a death in the span of a few days and I apologize for concentrating on this part of it for now, but I do think it's important. This way, when you get there, you and the other guests can simply focus on the event at hand and celebrate life and love.