Why Don’t People Dress Up Anymore?

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Do you hate how badly dressed so many people are these days?  Do you wish that everyone took a little more care?  Well join the #DressUp movement and start influencing others by setting a stylish example.

The other day I shared this article from the New York Post on why people are dressing so badly on my Facbook page and it had a huge response. I know from this response that I’m not the only person in this world who wishes that people would take a little more care and dress just a little better, rather than like slobs.

So I have decided to start a movement, grass roots style – it’s called Dress Up and all it requires of you is to dress each day as if you are going to meet someone you want to impress.

That’s it – just dress to impress each day of September.

You can still dress casually, just not sloppily, if that’s what suits your lifestyle.

Start influencing those in your community (and beyond with your social media accounts) by setting a stylish example each day.

This style challenge doesn’t have any specific day to day requirements other than that you take a moment to put on your ‘good’ clothes and shun the sloppy, old, faded, stained, pilled ones in your wardrobe.  Sure you can still go out and exercise, but once you’re finished, get changed into something stylish, don’t stay in your yoga pants all day.

Take a positive role in easing the rest of your community into dressing better.  Don’t believe it will make any difference?  Well I beg to differ as I’ve seen the impact of dressing better in action in many situations in my life.

Example 1 – The Office

In one workplace when I started working there, jeans were the go-to item, yet my wardrobe was full of suits and more corporate wear, so I just kept wearing them.  Over time, jeans disappeared out of the office and everyone dressed in a more businesslike way.   As people come and go from workplaces, when new people start they look around and see what others are wearing and follow suit.  If you want your colleagues to dress up, then you need to do it yourself and set the example.

Example 2 – Mother’s World

Mother’s groups are full of tired women with new babies who have little time for themselves.  The main emphasis is often on just getting through the day and dressing so that people didn’t notice the vomit stains or banana handprints you are covered in.  Yet once you’re past those first few months of round the clock feeding, it’s worth spending just a little time each day to dress up a little better.  It will make you feel more human and less like an offspring factory.  More like the you, you were, before having kids.  I found that when I dressed better for those mothers group meetings and play dates with my kids, after the initial comments subsided, the other mother’s also stopped wearing their track pants and got back into some jeans, took off their sneakers and put on a ballet flat.  It doesn’t take much, but baby steps aren’t just for babies.

Dress Up in September

So let’s change the world, one stylish outfit at a time.  Let’s remember that dressing well doesn’t have to be:

  • Uncomfortable
  • Expensive
  • Out of reach

You can still be casual but stylish.

You can be smart and stylish.

You can be comfortable and stylish.

You can be stylish no matter your shape, size or age.

Be an Inspiration

Share your style and efforts with others on your social media channels – Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook or blog – wherever you are – just use the hashtag #DressUp so we can find you and appreciate your efforts.
Follow my #DressUp in September Outfits each day

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I'm not sure if it's for you but how would you feel if you learned all about the colours and styles of clothing that suit your individual personality, shape and style? Just imagine what it would be like when you can open your wardrobe and pull together fabulous outfits that make you look and feel amazing every day? If you'd like to stop wasting money on the wrong clothes and accessories plus join an amazing bunch of very special women also on their style journey - then my 7 Steps to Style program is right for you. Find out more here.

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44 Comments

  • Love this! Was just talking with a friend today and she said how so many women she knows only wear yoga/workout pants all day/every day. There are so many options for nice looking clothes that are comfortable, and aren’t exercise clothes.

      • Imogen,

        I read an interesting few quotes in an article in the Womens Weekly this week. The whole issue is about growing older, but they interviewed Maggie T. She commented on the same issue that you speak about here. If you have time grab a copy, she is on the front looking quite fabulous for 78? or was it 80? anyway, much better than most and she hasn’t had surgery. She dresses well and stylish still at her age and mentions that she is saddened that no one “dresses” anymore. The whole womens weekly is a good purchase this month, as it covers this in many articles. It also hosts a great pull out with different styles and makeup ideas with the actual products listed so you can go and buy them without wondering…what lippy is she wearing?

        Enjoy! Meredith

    • I agree and if only we can tell these women how stupid they look wearing yoga pants or leggings..and this includes students – just because they are students does not mean they are exempt from having to look decent. In my day students dressed decently for school and in clean clothing. A lot of these University students reek with unwashed clothing.

  • Can you give some ideas for dressing nice and staying warm. I live not far from the snow fields and I start out every morning with lovely things and then end up in thick fleecy jackets. I put cotton tights under my jeans and long warm boots, but then I give in and have to wear a tracksuit.
    Any ideas? I have noticed for years that winter colours come in, but summer weight fabrics are wearing them.

    • Hi Meredith,
      you may not have seen my reply to your earlier question on the same subject on Imogen’s video post of August 21, 2015 “Do you have a process for deciding what to wear?”

      If that approach wouldn’t work for you, it would be great if you could outline exactly what you are putting on each morning, that you then find you have to take off.

      • PS. Not sure how thick your cotton tights are, but I got my mother washable woollen long johns for winter( as she doesn’t like pantihose), and she lives in Sydney! I think I would die if I lived near the snow without wool on my legs 🙂
        Do those cotton tights hug your skin? do they have a holey pattern? A skin-hugging, closely woven knit holds the heat in best and blocks the wind. The thermals in this link are washable, designed for the outdoors and may be more comfortable than wool, and they’re no more expensive:
        http://www.kathmandu.com.au/womens/base-layers.html#!p=3&offset=0
        In the meantime I would wear opaque school tights (70 denier) – Kayser’s are good and tough – under the cotton tights.

        • Thank you for replying!!
          My daughter lives in Wangaratta and shes always begging me to come live near her. Summers are stifling and winters, well, I live by the heater. I think its a menopausal thing.
          I generally wear thick cotton tights they have a thick weave because I can’t stand wool. When I was little my mother had 12 children and longed for a dark haired girl to play dress ups with her red velvet dresses, she had made. Underneath those red velvet dresses were scratchy wool under garments. I can’t stand wool. The thought of it veers my shopping trolley toward cotton. I can’t wear nylon either.
          I laughed when Imogen said her hubby comes in and says, “Still not dressed?” that’s me standing freezing in front of a pathetic wardrobe with business clothes I won’t throw out by the score and a minimal everyday wardrobe, because I’ve gained weight and don’t want to wear those size 14-16 clothes or pay for more.
          So, underneath my cords are cotton tights, warm snuggly socks, long ugg boots with lace ups, and then a cotton singlet, bamboo spencer (Target), a wool blend jumper, (kinda crochet sleeves). 30 minutes will pass and I will be freezing and end up with a fleecy lined hoodie from my sons room (he’s 6′ and its large and cosy) some daggy fleecy lined leggings, and my long hiking socks under neath the same slightly dressed up ugg boots.
          I hate going to town that way, but I really, seriously feel the cold these days. I feel quite embarassed and I don’t really look at anyone or engage the check out chicks either. I just go in and out. I used to be a dancer by night and a private secretary by day. This is really a blow to my image.

    • Warm shoes and silk, not cotton! There’s a couple of New Zealand websites that have reasonable prices for silk thermal underwear and if you put sheepskin insoles in your shoes it makes them toasty warm. Make sure you are wearing some form of sock as well. This year I really splurged and purchased a dressy pair of sheepskin boots. The brand is Canterbury sheepskin and the style is called York, they’re a cross between ugg boots and rainboots and they are so toasty warm I end up kicking them off midway through the day.

  • I subscribe to this blog, so I’m not averse to thinking about dress, but as long as people are clean and unoffensive and aren’t required because of their position to project a certain image I don’t really care how they dress. For some, having to think about clothing choices is yet another burden added to their daily lives. What’s more, dressing up is more effort and often entails expense and the wearing of clothes that aren’t as comfortable as our automatic choices. Some people may behave differently if they dress up in a business context, but I don’t believe they think better.

    • Dressing well does not have to be uncomfortable or expensive and I don’t understand why people think it does. We are talking about getting out of workout wear for regular clothing. Out of clothes that need to hit the rubbish bin as they are worn out. Just dressing a little more smartly, add an accessory, can make a huge overall difference.

      • Imogen, I understand totally what you are saying. I often see people at auto tellers in pyjamas. I see them in safeway in dressing gowns and crop tops with slippers and their kids in tow, doing a shop. I see them in the mall in Mid Valley, Morwell, with leggings that look like they were 5 years old and so stretched they are barely more than tights and you can see the complete shape and colour of the underwear and the body wearing that underwear. Bras are basically showing 90% of their beauty or lack thereof. This doesn’t apply to women only. Men turn up at the mall unshaven, unkempt, dirty teeth, hair unbrushed, sloppy tracksuit that is 2 sizes too big and sometimes no shoes either.

        When I was small my mother always had our clothes ironed, mended, and shoes polished. She would always match her shoes and hem, her gloves and hat to her bag. I was taught to dress appropriately. When we went to church it was your best. Now I go to church and see people wearing t-shirts that say, “Smile If You’re Wearing No Underwear”

        It’s more than a lack of getting dressed. It’s a lack of self respect, a lack of dignity, a lack of a lot of things that once were considered decent. I mean recently we watched “Revolutionary Road” set in the 40’s. Every man wore a suit and hat and women wore hats and gloves to go to the corner store, their hair nicely done, makeup perfect, dress lovely and figures showing they cared. What happened? I mean take a look at the clothes of the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, then take a look at the slow decline from the 60’s onward…so slow it’s barely noticeable until you take it all in with a discerning eye.

        If I put on my lovely dress pants, and jersey top with a blazer to go shopping and run errands, I feel great, but I generally get comments like “going out” “all dressed up?” “showing off again, Meredith?”
        Why?
        Because people dress according to the general standard. If you step out of that general standard you are considered to be thinking you are high and mighty. Especially in country towns. If you enter the local store dressed nicely, you won’t get a response, you will get your mail handed to you in silence and no eye contact.

        It’s bizarre but we only aspire to the lowest level and then sit comfortably. If we aspire higher someone loves to knock you down.

        When I first met my partner, he said to someone at a BBQ, I’ve never seen Meredith in a tracksuit and runners, she always dresses up. Someone else quickly answered, “smart bitch”

        I think that sums it up.

        People who generally dress in glorified pyjamas have been raised that way or live in that arena. They see you as thinking of yourself in high terms or better than them to dress nicely. If you tone down to their level, watch and see, you’ll immediately gain their friendship.

        Crazy world!

  • I read the article. I wanted to add that the advice is ironic, given that newspaper reporters tend to dress very casually unless they cover a beat like the court system. As pointed out by New York Post readers, the writer of the article is no exception: her idea of dressing up is a crew neck sweater. I do dry the line at “Eat Me Out” tees, but otherwise, who cares what the people paying $150 to see Penn and Teller are wearing? So long as they put their cell phones away during performance. The Neue Galerie is a gorgeous, very expensive museum, but it’s fitting that Adele Bloch-Bauer is the best dressed individual within its walls.

    http://www.neuegalerie.org/sites/default/files/resized/NG_Collection/Larger_Images/2006/2006.04.jpg

  • Hi Meredith,

    I really feel the cold in winter. A jersey wool-blend dress – or tunic over leggings if a dress just isn’t your style – meets the needs of comfort, warmth, and style, without being too bulky. Although it’s a little more expensive, I have also become a great fan of cashmere (or a cashmere blend), because it adds a lot of warmth, while remaining light and soft. A cashmere tunic, dress or jumper can also be layered with a silk jersey under layer (which has the magic of being cool in summer as well as warm in winter). I know a lot of people reject silk and cahsmere on the grounds of cost, but I would rather have 2-3 pieces that I can wear again and again, and never get tired of, rather than 10 cheaper pieces cluttering my wardrobe and costing as much as 2-3 really quality pieces. When it’s really cold, I wear a down gilet in the house. Because the arms are free, it doesn’t feel bulky, and I can wear something stylish underneath. Much better than hiding under layers of fleece!

    • Thank you Kirsten, you speak my language. That advice is invaluable and I agree. I prefer to have a few well chosen pieces than tonnes of useless fabrics that are bulky and make me feel like the incredible hulk. Laugh. Very welcome advice.

  • Great topic. I live in NYC and am always amazed by how inappropriately and poorly dressed many people are. Often all I see is athletic wear and short shorts. A great read on this topic is “The Lost Art of Dress” by Notre Dame professor, Linda Przybyszewski. Looking forward to participating in your September challenge!

  • Hi I stopped at a sort of good will store this morning, I tried on 4 skirts and only one fit and I bought it, for 5 dollars Canadian. it is a colour I love and is lined good for me. Now I know where to buy those shorter tops, too. Petite me is happy!!! senior’s day sale.

  • I also have read “The Lost Art of Dress”, Imogen, and you would understand why I think you are the ultimate “dress doctor” of this age after reading it. I have been periodically trying to find some of the old government documents on this, and will keep you apprised if I find any!

  • I refuse to go to the front letter box in my pyjamas – I must be dressed – and usually showered. What I wear in the day time is quite relaxed and comfortable. I wear polar fleece jackets and vests to keep warm. I won’t buy puffer jackets or vests or ponchos. And I won’t wear pea coats as I might feel stuffy and inhibited. I do wear leggings but in the role of tights. I have lots of gathered skirts as they are comfortable. I’m a big socks person with Mary Janes or just ballet flats in the warmer weather. I think I am a 60’s or 70’s throwback.
    I am doing things that are probably indiscernible to others. I am wearing columns of colour, I’m thinking of my contrast levels and I have organised my accessories into coloured bundles.
    Meredith – it has been a very cold winter in south-eastern Australia and I am so waiting for Spring.
    Interesting threads of comments. Thanks

  • I completely agree with this idea!!! What happened to showing a little respect for yourself and others by presenting your best “you”…Not expensive, not uncomfortable…

  • Here in the U.S. in summer, people dress extremely sloppily and it has a lot to do with fit. Women wear things two sizes too small with muffin tops and rolls of flesh hanging out everywhere. They also think tights and camis are legit clothes to be worn all by themselves.

    Men dress two sizes two large with shorts like tents coming past their knees.

    Clothes don’t have to be formal or pricey. They just have to fit right and not look like underwear.

  • I understand the idea behind this post, as I LOVE to dress up and am often the most dressed up person at any gathering.

    However, my very honest question here is: Why the heck do we care how other people dress? How does it affect us? Maybe these other people don’t care about fashion as you or I do. Why should they conform to our ideals rather than their own? What if they don’t care what other people think about their appearance (it’s their right not to)? And above all…what gives anyone the right to judge them harshly, using negative language like “slob” just because they aren’t pleasing to our eyes?

    This sentiment seems a bit superficial, judgmental, and sadly…reeks of privilege. “Dress codes” have long been used as a method of exclusion based on privilege.

    Can’t we just say, to each their own? Maybe people are taking “less care” with their dress these days because they: have more important things to worry about, are more openminded about outward appearances, are more careful with the person they are inside than the person they are outside?

    I wish people were LESS concerned with what others were wearing and were MORE concerned with just treating other humans with kindness, compassion, and respect. Maybe the problem isn’t with the clothes they are wearing, but rather with our expectations and our feelings of open entitlement to judge/criticize others’ appearances.

    If you like dressing up and looking put together (as I do) GOOD ON YOU! Celebrate it! Have your September “Dress to Impress” and enjoy every minute of it! However, can everyone do it without criticizing or putting others down in the process? It’s just not kind…

  • Why do people assume casual in a restaurant means “I just rolled out of bed and lets to eat”. I can’t stomach it anymore, just who buys all these fashions I see in all the stores? The guys look like they just came off the couch from watching a game and decided to go to a restaurant, woman GET OUT OF THE SWEATPANTS AND FLIP FLOPS AND PUT ON SOME CLOTHES THAT ACTUALLY FIT YOU, WASH AND BRUSH YOUR HAIR AND PUT ON SOME MAKEUP. I don’t care how young or old you are, put forth some effort, I never saw such sloppy, lazy people-it gets worse every day. I’m 61 years old, and dress fashionably, do my hair and put on makeup every time I go out to eat, or the movies or even shopping. It makes me feel good about myself. What is wrong with you people.

  • Thank you Imogen-I’m glad someone agrees with me. These young people are wasting their youth, there is so much out there fashion wise and If I were that age again I would jump on any chance to try new things.
    Have a great day.

  • People dress so sloppy and with no style in Canada too. At one time students of all ages, administrative staff in schools, hospitals, medical clinics and governments, news reporters and anchorwomen, teachers were dressed in a decent and classical way. I have seen the trend in the past years from cheap to downright sloppy. Imagine wearing leggings *ughhh* with a top that looks like rags which shows your whole neckline and cleavage and you are serving people in institutions or going to school like that. Who can you blame for this? Parents? Stores? Fashion Designers? Business owners? Manufacturers of mass produced clothing in the cheapest form possible? WHO?

  • Probably a bit late for me to comment now, but I’d just like to say that I do sympathise with the lady further up the thread who received negative reactions for dressing up. It is hard these days. I moved from a large city to live in a small rural city. I struggle with what to wear, as I like to look attractive and presentable, but often feel selfconscious, either too casual or too business-like, especially as I have deep colouring and don’t suit the light khaki and camel colours that are popular here. But if I keep within my value and colour contrast levels this usually helps. More yin than yang works for me, plus slightly warmer rather than cooler colours, and natural fabrics and textures. Imogen’s advice on this website has been invaluable. When all of this does work together, although I still might feel more dressed up than the average person in my town, I feel more like myself, and have just got to the stage where I have a few outfits to be repeated or refined.

  • I’m late to the party, but count me in. I used to dress with a bit of style sense as I was raised in Europe and running around like a slob was a no-no. Then I moved to Colorado and kept getting nasty comments (in my 30s at the time) for dressing like I cared. In the past couple of years I’ve taken stock of my wardrobe and replaced all my outdoorsy clothing for stylish outfits. I haunt sales for fashionable, well-made, natural fiber clothing and have finally succeeded in replacing my entire wardrobe (some of which was purchased in Italy as decent prices). Henceforth, I will go out looking put together… to heck with the people who felt the need to put down those of us wishing to put forth the effort. I’m an adult and I intend to dress like one 🙂 I’ve had it with the frump/grunge contingent! Go forth, ladies, and be stunning!

  • Oh my goodness, I finally found some people who are of the same opinion as me. Dressing up doesn’t have to be stuffy and uncomfortable. The other day I was walking my dog up the street wearing a pair of casual linen pants and a top. A neighbour commented “Where are you going all dressed up?” I was simply decently dressed and not “dressed up” as in going out to a New Years party. I love fashion and accessories but because people make comments like this it prevents me from enjoying it. I went to Italy this year after not being there for 5 years and I was shocked at how ugly they dress. All excessively ripped jeans, black leggings and overly baggy tops. What’s happening to fashion and trying to look good? So sad….

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