MP900426559 - A Summer Dress Code
Every Friday my syndicated column appears in a bunch of newspapers in southeastern Ontario and Saskatchewan. What is the appropriate dress code for summer? How do we bring back class?

Twenty years ago a building in Blackburn, England was scheduled to be demolished. Before the wrecking ball swung, construction workers discovered some old film reels in a metal tub. Historians took a look, and found some of the earliest footage of a street in Belfast from 1901. I spent some time watching some on it on YouTube the other day, and what really impressed me was how dressed up all the pedestrians were. Men in suits rode bicycles and horses. All the women donned dresses with their hair pulled back. People were classy.

We’re not classy anymore; we aim to be comfortable instead. In some ways it’s a good trend; I’d hate to be in long skirts with long sleeves in the middle of summer. But at the same time I feel as if we have lost a bit of a sense of community pride as we have dressed down. When we show pride in ourselves, we inject pride into the community. When we appear trashy, then the community takes a nosedive.

And so, perhaps, in the spirit of building community, we could talk about a summer dress code that could restore some decency and some class.

First, let’s talk Speedos. As a comedienne once said, there’s a very narrow window when Speedos look good on a guy, and that’s between the ages of 6 and 10. If you are not between those ages, then please cover up more. When I’m on the beach, I want to be free to scan the horizon to look at sand and water, not scan the horizon only to have to avert my eyes. Yes, I have to share the beach. But I would rather not be reminded of absolutely everything I am sharing it with.

Speaking of too little fabric, let’s turn now to bikini tops, most of which consist of less fabric than the average WonderBra. A bikini top is part of a bathing suit. You may clue in to this because they are purchased at the “bathing suit” section of a store. Thus, if one chooses to wear one, one should wear it at a place where bathing is done.  If there is no water within one hundred feet, then it’s no longer an acceptable wardrobe choice.

Here’s something else that bugs me: there is a point at which a leg is no longer a leg, but becomes a different body part.  When one is wearing shorts, this point should never be visible. Shorts should descend part way down the leg—not part way up the butt. And the bottom of shorts should be parallel to the ground; they should not be shaped like a V. A V is acceptable at the neck; it is not acceptable at the crotch.

Now guys, you’re not off the hook when it comes to shorts, either. While I don’t want them to crawl too far up, I’d also prefer that they not fall too far down. I would prefer not to know whether you choose Hanes or Fruit of the Loom; that’s for your grandma to know when she wraps your Christmas presents, not for me to know when I’m standing next to you at the mall.

Some things are just meant to be kept private. I know in this era of reality TV we like to let it all hang out, but I personally would prefer if we would stuff some back in. I think that would lead to a far friendlier community this summer, one where I do not fear having to avert my eyes.

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