Wednesday, January 18, 2023

On Dressing Up

You all know my love for the 1960s sitcom, Bewitched. I get SO much inspiration for style/fashion from Samantha Stevens wardrobe. I own all of the show's seasons and constantly rewatch the episodes. 

It's crazy to think that this show was 60+ years ago, and yet most of the clothing she wears, I would happily wear now in 2023. 

But, there is one thing style-wise that I've noticed in the series that is different from 2023. Samantha seems to dress up often for dinner dates with her husband. She regularly wears gowns and cocktail dresses for the evening, and the scenes are usually at someone's home for a cocktail/dinner party or out at a restaurant. 

I live in Pittsburgh, PA, and in 2011, GQ gave Pittsburgh the infamous title of 3rd worst dressed city in the country. I love Pittsburgh. I am Pittsburgh's biggest fan. I am constantly rooting for this city. The people of Pittsburgh are down-to-earth, kind, hard-working, and generous. The city has so much history; now, it has an incredible food scene, full of culture, packed with things to do and more. We were once home to Andy Warhol, Jonas Salk, Roberto Clemente, Fred Rogers, Gene Kelly, August Wilson, and many more intelligent and talented people. Pittsburgh has SO much to offer, and I feel lucky to live here.  

All cities and towns have their faults. Pittsburgh is not exempt from that. Most faults are subjective, of course, though I suspect we Pittsburghers may all agree that the potholes have long been an issue! 

My personal biggest criticism is that people are not dressing to go out. Though GQ gave Pittsburgh the bronze in worst dressed 12 years ago, I don't think we have made much progress getting ourselves off that list.

I say this all, of course, as a sweeping generalization. When I refer to 'out' I mostly mean out to dinner and evening events. I know fashionable people are living here in this wonderful city. I know some people enjoy dressing up. But you are more likely to see someone wearing a sports jersey to a nicer restaurant than you are to see someone in a cocktail dress or dinner jacket. That's just Pittsburgh. And you know what? Oftentimes, there is an endearing charm to that. I even think it may be a comfort I might long for if I was absent from this city for too long. And quite frankly, there really isn't a right or wrong here. We are free to dress as we please (within reason and as long as there is no dress code).

We all know that clothing, fashion, and dressing are somewhat frivolous and obviously very subjective. Though I don't think fashion is totally frivolous- that's a nuanced subject for another day. At the end of the day, the things that matter in life are your family, your friends, the love you share, your health, and your happiness.

But on occasion, I feel a bit frustrated! 

I occasionally feel that I tone myself down regarding what I am wearing. It's my own doing. Overall, the world has become increasingly more casual as the years pass. For example, when I was in college, I never wore athleisure. It was just starting to become a thing. Since the pandemic began and more people are still working from home, I think it has expedited casualness.

I don't want to act like I'm out here dressed to the nines all the time, and I don't expect anyone else to be. We are all just doing our best; I surely know that! I often go to my Orange Theory class and run into Target before or after! As soon as I get home from being out or if I take Henry on a walk, I change into activewear/lounge clothing. In fact, I feel hypocritical because I'm writing this post in my office, and I have lounge clothes on (but no plans to go out, otherwise, I'd get fully dressed). 

On the one hand, why should I care about what anyone else is wearing but myself? I have no control over others! I have control of myself, and I can wear what I please! When I walk into Giant Eagle and see people in their pajamas, I honestly don't care and don't often pay any attention to that. 

I am sure that when I go out, many people may wonder why I am 'so dressed up.' In fact, I have had many people over the years, strangers even, ask me why I am so dressed up. We all have different styles, preferences, and interests, making us unique. If we were all the same, it would be SO boring! 

But when I watch Bewitched and see everyone dressed up for dinner, I cannot help but get a longing for that. When everyone is dressed up, it changes the entire vibe!

I polled you all a long time ago when I had a fun idea: a dinner club where you could go out to a restaurant with live music and a dance floor on Fridays and Saturdays, and you would reserve a table. It would be a dressy affair with valet and a coat check. The service would be impeccable. A big band would play, you'd be greeted with champagne, and once dinner ended, people would enjoy cocktails or mocktails and dance the night away! 

It would be perfect for celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, promotions, etc. I know there are concepts like this in larger cities like New York, Miami, LA, etc.  

I have to say, I'm not so sure how well it would fare in a place like Pittsburgh, which is likely why it doesn't exist here. 

I would love to know... 

Do you like to dress up for an evening out? Do you dress up? If you dress up, do you dress up often? What do you consider 'dressed up' to be? Do people dress up where you live? Do you have something like this 'dinner club' in your area? Do you prefer to dress in leisure clothes? When you go out for the evening, do you notice what others are wearing? Where do you live?

I know we all live in different places throughout the country and even the world while having different careers and family situations, so it will be interesting to hear different points of view!

As a reminder, please share your thoughts and opinions respectfully. We all have differing opinions, and all deserve kindness and respect. Any comments that are hateful or mean will not be tolerated. Thank you!


Anonymous said...

Love this post Sydney! Like you, I love to dress up, if the event calls for it. I take pride in my appearance and don't apologize for taking time to compose the right outfit for the occasion. An ideal outing would include dressing up, bubbles in my glass, great music and food. Luckily, there are lots of places in Philadelphia where we can make this happen routinely. - KLV in PHL

Anonymous said...

Hi Sydney, I’m afraid that Rochester, NY would have beat Pittsburgh and won the first place gold medal for the WORST dressed city in the country. This bothers me because I, like you, really enjoy fashion and love getting dressed nicely for dinner out.
To me, it’s part of the experience of the evening, but I stick out like a sore thumb sometimes because as you pointed out, people have become so casual.
I feel like it’s a show of respect to present your best self when dining out, or going to a friend’s house for dinner. However, I admit that I am very old school when it comes to manners and decorum.
With regard to Pittsburgh…I have been there one time, my husband took me there for my birthday several years ago because I had been following you for a long time and loved reading about your passion for your city and wanted to see it. Yes, I noticed it was very casual but everything you mentioned above more than made up for that and we had a great time and really enjoyed it all.
However, travel is the time when I usually get style inspiration and shop because there is nowhere to shop in Rochester.
Thanks for the fun post.

Kelly C said...

Love this conversational topic! I love dressing up. What I find interesting is my co-workers think I 'dress up' every day for work, but to me, I feel casual. Now I work in an office at our public health department, but if I choose I don't interact with many people, so maybe that's why they find my 'dressing up' interesting. They mostly wear leggings, slippers, and loose tops, things not acceptable by our workplace standard but my director doesn't mind. I wear mostly business pants with a blouse, or cotton Lilly dresses.

But I love to get gussied up for date night and being out with my friends. To me, dressed up is a cocktail dress, something with a good quality fabric, or even just a sharp pair of dark jeans, with a nicer noncasual top, and accessories. Maybe a matching bag and shoes. I find people in Knoxville, Tennessee also casual, sweat pants, T-shirts, and athleisure. But if you're in the right neighborhood or store you'll see different kinds of fashion. I say dressing my body is out of respect for myself and how I personally feel. All that to say, I'd rather be over dressed, and maybe raise the standard, then be underdressed.

Molly said...

I love getting dressed up to go to dinner or to an event. I love planning my outfit all week or even for certain events using Rent the Runway for Nuuly to find something special or to just make myself feel more special. I live in Cincinnati, OH so very similar vibe to Pittsburgh and our city is also full of people who do not dress up.
I have three little kids (7, 5.5 and 3) and so I don't get to go out as much as I used to but it is also so sweet when my two girls see me all dressed up and say "mommy you look so pretty" or "mommy I want that outfit when I grow up"
My sister and I just went to a Broadway show, Anastasia, and even for a matinee got all dressed up. So many people were in jeans or even leggings, ugh!! I mean, to each his own but shouldn't you make this a special event, especially since most people are spending a lot of money and I think part of the theatre is the atmosphere and getting dressed up. After the show we went to get drinks at a very upscale restaurant and again people were so dressed down it bums me out.

Anonymous said...

I wish we all dressed up more. Was recently at a funeral and only 4 ladies(including me) out of a fairly large crowd even wore a dress. I dress up for Valentines and our anniversary dinners. Usually a notch below cocktail attire with a nice dress and my husband wears a suit.
Covid for sure really made us a casual group. I live in the Dallas and there are still places where everyone makes an effort but not like when I was a kid here. Used to get to go the Dallas Summer Musicals with my parents and loved seeing the ladies in evening gowns and jewels. Now it is jeans and GG sneakers...

Lisa G. McKinney, TX

Sandy said...

As a fellow Pittsburgher, I've definitely noticed the same vibe. Sometimes, I enjoy that I can pop out to dinner in jeans and fit right in, but I really felt the same frustration/disappointment after going to the theater. Heinz Hall and the Benedum Center are beautiful theaters with amazing shows and when you pay for that theater experience only to arrive and realize most guests are treating the symphony, opera, etc as gameday it can be a true letdown.

Kelly said...

I will say, this is something I took for granted growing up in the South, until my best friend (from Colorado) brought to my attention! In Nashville there are no shortages of opportunities to see smartly dressed people and now living in Charleston, it's even more so that way! On a day to day basis people dress pretty casually (like at school functions, running errands, etc) but at church, dining at nice restaurants, special events (weddings, galas, fundraisers, the arts), and those kinds of things most everyone is VERY well-dressed. I remember one of the first times we came to Mount Pleasant with the intention of moving here, we attended a preschool open house and it was Lilly Pulitzer central... in JANUARY! Dreamy. It's always a bit of a culture shock to travel to other parts of the country in that regard. I tend to stick out like a sore thumb, but dressing well and feeling cute just makes me a happier person (and therefore more pleasant to be around, ha!).

Molly said...

I LOVE getting dressed up. I live in Pittsburgh, too, and I am a teacher. Ever since the pandemic, even teaching has become more casual. I used to wear a dress everyday to work and now, when I wear one, my students ask why I'm so dressed up! I am lucky though, because I conduct concerts in my schools so I do get to wear fancier dresses, even to work, every once in awhile. When I go to the symphony, I dress up, even though I may be the only one! I don't mind being "overdressed" in other people's eyes. I actually do get bothered by pajamas in public, though!

Lee said...

I don’t even need to post a comment. We’ve had so many conversations about getting dressed up. I don’t need to do it all the time but it certainly feels like a bygone era. I wish more restaurants enforced a basic dress code.

Sarah said...

I enjoy getting dressed up when the opportunity arises, like going for dinner or out to a performing arts venue. Here in Orlando, it’s so hot and humid that I usually see people wearing casual wear like athleisure or flip-flops, t-shirts, and shorts everywhere. Living close the theme parks, I feel like most people in my area take the term “minimum dress code” quite literally and lean towards the (very) casual end of the dress code. I’ve been in some upscale restaurants and hotels (like the Four Seasons) and noticed people dining in shorts! I personally would rather dress up. It makes an outing feel more special!
Also, I love the idea of a place where you could go for dinner then enjoy dancing to a live orchestra, the way people did back in the “Bewitched” era! Does that even exist anymore? I feel like the only events where that happens these days are charity galas and weddings.

Anonymous said...

I love this topic! I wish people would take more pride in their appearance whether it's for work, dinner, every day errands or traveling. I travel often for work and it always amazes me how casual people are when on an airplane. I'm all for comfort, but I still think it's important to put your best foot forward in public. There is absolutely a time and place for casual/comfy clothes. I also have friends and family that will say I'm so dressed up, even thought I feel like I'm dressing down to be more in line with what I know others will be wearing. Similar to comments above I wish restaurants would hold patrons to an enforced dress code. I always say I was born in the wrong era when it comes to how people dress.

Marcelina said...

I live about an hour away from Pittsburgh, just inside of Ohio, and frequently go there for events, entertainment, and “upscale” shopping. It always, ALWAYS, amazes me the number of individuals, especially women, who wear jerseys and sports apparel when it’s not game day, or even that sports season! Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of Pittsburgh sports, but I just don’t see the appeal of wearing a Crosby jersey to Ross Park Mall on a random Tuesday in July.

Rachel said...

I have never agreed with a post more! I love getting dressed up. I think getting dressed up makes an occasion feel special and it is respectful to those hosting an event!

I recently got married. Since it was my big day and one chance to set a dress code I had a formal wedding. It was so disappointing that guests still came in jeans and flannel shirts (Minnesota)! I even had guests say prior to the wedding if they had to wear a tux they would not come (they were allowed to wear a suit). I just don't understand why our society is so casual.


Nessa said...

What a great blog post.
So interesting. I live in SoCal near, very near the beach. It is a casual culture but has definitely gotten more casual in the past 10 years.
Dressing up isn't necessarily tailored pieces but wearing expensive name brand t-shirts/shoes and bags along with some large shiny jewelry.
I think some of the differences is different people have a different idea of casual vs sloppy.
I too feel like getting dressed up can make the event more like an occasion and YES it would be nice if restaurants enforced simple dress codes.


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