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."
LOL! I remember when I was 12 or so in the mid-70s and I came out of the house for church one Sunday wearing jeans--rolled up to the calf--english riding boots and a a paisley, 3/4-sleeve peasant blouse. My dad had a cow. Mom was out of town so I thought I'd wear what I wanted. Luckily, we were running late and I didn't have time to change.
You sound like my husband - is that you honey?
Honestly - my husband feels the same way - he dresses very well because his mother taught him to take pride in his appearance. Even though he wears jeans, they are clean and neat. He insists we all dress up for church (no jeans!) and we make the kids wash their faces and change if we are going out to eat or visit realtives, etc. Our kids are like most - messy - but we try to make the presentable!
That was a well-stated post.
I'm with you. I just don't starch mine anymore. And I wouldn't wear them to anything dressier than 'Texas Casual'.
Opera as "formal" is a social construct, don't you LOVE that Marxist phrase....
Originally they WERE popular entertainment back in the day. Much like rock concerts today. Every lil' burg and village had their opera house, which was like the old barns they convert to community theaters today. No one cared who wore what.
Back when they were written, your average Hans or Giovanni went to La Scala or Der Sofiensaal, they wore whatever.
It's sad that you have to. People used to know what to wear to a wedding. Have you sent out the invitations yet? Maybe put "formal attire" on the invites?
Of course, few people know what "formal" means anymore. A clean baseball cap, maybe?
Uh no, let's nip this myth in the bud. Jeans at a wedding or funeral is NOT generally accepted here in Texas.
To each his own, and if your relative's were comfortable with that at their functions, good for them. But most Texans(like anywhere else) consider it tacky and bad taste to show up in jeans at formal functions. We're friendly enough to still be nice, and prefer that people attend even if they don't own suites, but we aren't hillbillies, either. Except for the occassional goof that takes a perverse pride in showing how 'down to earth and 'real' Texan' they are, walking around in extra big hats and odd boots. And we all laugh at them as eccentric showboaters.
"It is NEVER appropriate to wear jeans to a church service."
IMO, God doesn't care what you're wearing. The purpose of going to church is to worship God, so why would someone care what everyone else is "wearing". Judge not.
Hey baby, they don't call us Stinkadena fer nuthin'!! ;-)
In Alaska, many funerals are attended by folks wearing jeans....and sweaters....and even bunny boots. When we attended the funeral of a dear friend a couple of years ago, just about everyone came wearing the same clothes they would have worn to sit and chat with our friend. We have no doubt Mike would have approved. :)
If they weren't sitting on the waistband, I'm guessing they were not the droopy type.
Since they were those back-to-back bench seats, no rear view was available, for which on balance I think I am thankful.
I took my girlfriend to the Boston philharmonic last month and we dressed to the 9's.
And anyone here who knows anything about me, knows that I'm a 25 year old, tattooed, punk rock guy!
But there is a time and a place for everything, some people have no class and show no respect for themselves. These are the people who wear jeans to the theatre!
It shows a lack of respect for the situation. If you can't afford anything other than jeans, that's one thing. However, if you own slacks and a collared shirt, why not put them on?
I agree with your assessment.
You clearly have good Jeans.
PS: Men who wear jeans with an oxford shirt, tie, shoes (NOT sneakers) and a sportcoat look nice for going out to a movie and late dinner at a pub or something. But never EVER for a dinner date at a fancy restaurant.
"Jeans have their place. But, when I see a chump at a nice restaurant with his baggy jeans, ball cap, and flip flops I cannot really take him seriously, at any level. Same goes for the Opera or equally formal event. You don't have to be wealthy to put on a collared shirt and a pair of trousers. And the whole "I just want to be comfortable" mantra doesn't resonate with me; clothes that fit are comfortable clothes. Actually, denim doesn't breath well, and can hardly be called luxurious, as fabrics go. Wearing dungarees to formal events is just another expression of unisize, ahistorical, narcissistic, lazy, slob culture and should be mocked whenever possible."
When I was a teenageer, I was a Southern Baptist (in the midwest). It was common for people to go to church wearing nice sweaters, tops etc. with jeans. When I became convicted that I needed to dress better, I was asked by many people, "Why are you so dressed up?" I was stunned.
Now, I attend a congregation that appreciates the fact they should conduct themselves before G-d at least as well as they would before the Pres. of the USA or HRH Queen Elizabeth.
"...their ensembles make them look more like a can of biscuits that blew up than little girls."
LOL! What a mental image!! Poppin' Fresh!
I typically wear a nice pair of Jeans and a shirt to Sunday Mass... And usually out to eat with my girl. The way I look at it is I have to dress up to go to work and when I am not working I just want to be comfortable.
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