Photo by Salt Water New England

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Question For the Community: How has the way you have dressed changed over time?


A Question for the Community:
How have the ways you have dressed changed as you aged, from teens to twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, or older?  Which of these changes were driven by easy access, job role, epiphanies, trends, or changes inherent in aging?

75 comments:

  1. Not really changed that much. Quality will out!

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  2. Hasn't changed in decades. I like what I wear, it reflects who I am, and I'm not looking to impress too many people besides my wife!

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  3. Not at all. Still don’t wear jeans.

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  4. It hasn't at all. Once something wears out it is replaced with an almost identical item.

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  5. Folks we are now the social mavericks! I've always worn classic timeless styles and always will.

    A friend and I were discussing this not long ago and she commented that we are now considered taboo because we don't wear trendy clothing and don't have tattoos and/or several piercings all over our body.

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  6. Well. . . Big 80s rocker hair, tight jeans, and concert t-shirts as a teenager and early 20-something to something more along the lines of what my father, maternal grandfather and various male relatives up and down the Eastern seaboard (but centered around Philadelphia) wore/have worn forever, barring minor differences in lapel and necktie width. Which is to say trad/ivy/preppy if we absolutely must put a label on it. The change occurred pretty abruptly in my late 20s (mid 90s) when I entered graduate school and grew tired of being treated like a moron. My mother once observed, "Your life could be very different if you would cut your hair and dress better." Glad I finally heeded her advice and got with the program!

    Best Regards,

    Heinz-Ulrich

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  7. Same old, same old, same new... maybe boring to some, but I like it; my friends know who I am and do not care what anybody else thinks...

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  8. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose...

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  9. Classic, sporty: khakis, cords, blue jeans - yes! - plaids, stripes, solids, turtlenecks, flannels, crew necks, cardigans, loafers, espadrilles, no tattoos or piercings. Looking for a camel polo coat that is not too pricey.

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  10. "Once something wears out it is replaced with an almost identical item. "
    Exactly!

    Boston Bean

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  11. Growing up, I wore mass market brands like Ralph Lauren but they were still the khaki and navy cotton chinos plus cotton polos and OCBDs. Now, I avoid mass market brands whenever I can - especially if made in the US. My style was influenced by some of the activities I participated in such as tennis or sailing. But it’s been pretty consistent. I will admit there was a time in my sophomore year of high school where I rebelled a bit and took on a different look. But before I went to college, I went back to my usual ways and have stayed that way since.

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    1. You avoid USA made clothing?

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  12. Robert ReichardtJuly 28, 2019 at 2:54 PM

    When I was a Pup it was drilled into me that “there is only one proper way for a gentleman to dress.” Definitely a narrow view, but salient nonetheless – and could easily apply to speaking, thinking, grooming, and behaving as well.

    This long ago sage advice has stuck with me so much that to the unenlightened I may appear to be snared in a fashion time warp. Anyway, I don’t regret having always dressed the way I still do. Let’s face it, there are finite boundaries to good taste in clothing, and the possibilities of dressing poorly/ridiculously are wider than the known universe. Best to stick with what works instead of stumbling off into the incessantly changing wilderness of inappropriate attire.

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  13. There is indeed only one proper way for a gentleman to dress, and every day I thank God that the classics are still readily available.

    Grey Flannels

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  14. Although I am not a gentleman, I have worn pretty much the same things since I was in high school. I usually wore suits for probably the first twenty years after college but they eventually became pointless. I otherwise continued to "dress up" until I retired last year. I never quite got into the so-called business casual concept but since retiring, well, I don't dress up much at all, unless I leave the house.

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  15. Replies
    1. @Anonymous 5;1P
      Now that is concise and accurate.
      Also, sad, funny, and true... for me, as well.

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    2. Agree! Made me laugh.

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  16. In my 60s, now retired, my dress has not really changed in 30-40 years.

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  17. I second the response of Anonymous at 8:39 AM. Not at all. Still don’t wear jeans.

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  18. Born ‘54. My father’s Stingray 63 and 64 still the coolest USA cars ever made. Grew up with 60’s madras surfer shirts with the sleeve pockets and white jeans then on to the button downs. Still wear suits to office and Court. Ride elevator with bankers in jeans and 3rd grader back packs that have no clue to comfort of tailored clothes. I’m old enough now that the guys in HQ that dress like they are going to mow a lawn think I’m eccentric.

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  19. Lived in a suit for 30 years. Then business casual became the uniform, polo shirts and khakis that had us all looking like salesmen at Best Buy. Now retired, and it's pretty much khakis (long or short depending on the weather that day) and polo shirts every day.

    The wife and I were people watching the other day at a high-end high-rise mall, and I was noting what the men were wearing. Almost all cargo shorts and T shirts, and gaudy athletic shoes. Saw not a single polo shirt. Not a single pair of topsiders. Felt very out of place. Other than that, could not identify much of a pattern, except sloppy. The world has changed. I have not. Except I no longer tuck in my polo. Thumbing my nose at the golf police. So I suppose that is how I have changed. A suit only for weddings and funerals, and an untucked polo shirt.

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    1. Dave, lately I've noticed that men's suits appear to be disproportionately small. Has anyone else noticed this? The jackets appear to fit a six year old boy and the pants are so tight and no socks.

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    2. Suit makers desperately trying to get younger men to keep buying and wearing suits. Those of us older fellows would look ridiculous in them. They look like the wearer got caught in the rain and his wool suit shrunk, or like a kid going back to school in the fall and finding he outgrew his school clothes.

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    3. Suits, hip/now = slim, like the designer jeans for men... hip & now = $$$, what sells.

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    4. Exactly Dave! Thanks for the laugh.

      As a mature woman I can sincerely tell you that even if I were 18 years old, I would be extremely turned-off by the slim suit style and would avoid any man wearing one. I never found men who were trendy to be attractive at all ( with the exception of the men in my sailing club in the early 80's who wore Sperry's and Lauren polo shirts) so my opinion is extremely biased but these men look ridiculous! I like men who exude confidence and trendy just doesn't do that for me. Reminds me of The Peter Pan Syndrome and how I felt about men in those 70's disco polyester casual suits. Cringe-worthy!

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    5. Anonymous: at 5:54 PM

      Ahemm, Madam, those popular “casual suits” you refer to were called “Leisure Suits,” and they came in wonderful shades of pale baby blue, electric lime green, life-jacket orange, in-your-face pink and garish lagoon turquoise. Ideally, they were teamed with a bold floral print shirt with huge collars. No tie of course to spoil the look.

      And yes, grown men who weren’t Third-Rate Las Vegas lounge singers actually wore these outfits in public. In broad daylight. One poor fellow even phoned into a radio talk show to ask if it was appropriate to wear his leisure suit to an important job interview. I’m not joking.

      I also recall a comic TV skit at that time where medical researchers were trying to discover if Leisure Suits caused cancer. They showed a mock scientific experiment where white mice dressed in miniature Leisure Suits were running around in a maze. It was quite a fad.

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    6. Robert, you forgot the gold chain. ( yikes)

      Thanks Robert and Dave for the laughs. I got an ab workout that will burn calories for a week or two.




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    7. Dave - EXACTLY MY SENTIMENTS. I WOULD HAVE WRITTEN THIS WORD FOR WORD!

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  20. The biggest change for me is that I have given up sweaters for jackets, but I could never let go of prep style.

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  21. No longer in the corporate world so I don't wear dresses, suits, high heels and pantyhose any more. I was born in 1954. My clothes are more casual now, but still conservative, good quality, and I'm neat, clean, and pulled together. I may wear jeans but with a good quality sweater or shirt and good leather shoes and purse. No holes, no fading, etc. Never sloppy...can't abide by that look.

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  22. Echoing what many others have said my clothing preferences have not changed over the last 40 years. If anything I've gotten more strict. Still no jeans but I've also given up logo-ed clothing. I've tried to imbue this thinking with my children but so far it hasn't worked.

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  23. I wore suits for work from 1993 to 2017 when I retired. I'm now part owner of a small apparel brand in the southeastern US and I wear jeans and 5-pocket pants and polos or sport shirts daily. I haven't worn socks since Christmas Eve church service.

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  24. dress up in college was khakis and blue blazers, white oxford and a bow tie. Or, of course, black tie/white tie to the random debutante balls in the spring. These days not so much blue blazers, but still khakis, sport coat and bow tie on "casual Friday" and gray, navy, linen or other suit during the week, and a bow tie of course. And one tattoo- my fraternity on my left inside ankle. Fairly discreet and a reminder of bad decisions from college have lasting impressions. But all of that is pretty solidly Southern as well as being New England (except, I suppose, the ankle tattoo).

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  25. Nothing against jeans, especially for dirty jobs around the house (such as walking the roof, cleaning out the gutters with the leaf-blower) but otherwise they get worn only rarely.

    Day in, day out, it's several identical pairs of tan lightweight travel pants from Bauer worn in rotation and which last like iron, plus various long-sleeve sportshirts, mostly from Bean. The occasional OCBD; oddly enough these are worn mainly with jeans.

    Back in college (60s), it was jeans and chinos for dressup, plus several OCBDs and loafers. Today the footgear is Clarks casual.

    Bottom line? Things have changed but looking back, less than I would have expected. Dad wore white shortsleeve shirts with dark gray flannel pants (he was a structural engineer); I think I saw him in jeans once in all the years.

    So I'm clearly a step down in formality from him, but I find what I wear is comfortable and appropriate in most places these days. Above all, it's a uniform, and that means I don't need to think about what to wear every day, especially before morning coffee does its thing.

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  26. Gave up diapers at age three. Back in diapers at age eighty eight

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  27. Biggest change in recent years is integrating more classically British items. As I have seen you doing on this blog.

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  28. I started dressing regularly in coat and tie toward the latter half of college, about 12 years ago. That consisted of khakis or flannels, oxford shirt, and bow tie with loafers. I've typically only had one or two suits at a time, as I was never in the working world when they were the norm, although I do wear them for important donor meetings (I work as a development officer at an East Coast boarding school). I have found myself "casualizing" my work wardrobe the longer I've been working, mostly as a way of still being dressed up at work without looking like I'm trying to upstage my superiors (I learned this lesson the hard way). That's mostly consisted of incorporating more things like knit ties and sweaters, and excluding things like pocket squares, lace-up dress shoes, and more formal dress shirts. Casual wear has remained mostly the same: Oxfords, polos, khakis, Top-Siders, and camp mocs.

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  29. The only thing that has really changed in 20-30 years is that I can not longer buy my shoes at Barrie ltd. all else has been the same sing 3rd year high school, with necessary replacements with same as required.

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  30. Attended a private college in the Midwest in the early 1980s. A girl I liked remarked that my boat shoes, university stripe OCBD and round shell glasses reminded her of her father, whom she described as “old preppy.” A boy could react a number of different ways to that one. I just wished that one day I’d be an old preppy. Some 38 years later and I’m writing this wearing boat shoes, khakis, university stripe OCBD and round shell glasses – albeit much stronger prescription . . . and bifocal.

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  31. As a 37 year old Kentuckian, I have no connection to the sailing or Ivy League culture. However, I wish I desperately was. I didn’t grow up with direction of how a gentleman dressed except that of my grandfather. He taught me the Windsor knot I use today. As a firefighter, I wear a uniform to work as well as my previous career as a police officer. I have tattoos on my upper arms that don’t show in polo shirts or uniform. Mementos I attribute to my policing days.
    Off duty, I am in horsebit loafers, the discontinued Polo Andrew Short I buy off EBay, and a Polo shirt or oxford. My style is classic and timeless. I look how I looked at 25. My wonderful wife has made needlepoint belts for my son and I. Heirlooms we wear daily. If I’m being honest, my markings on my body were of importance to me then, and remind me of times past today. I would be lying if I said I wished I didn’t spend that time in a tattoo parlor, but the evolution of my style has turned me into the man I am today.
    Constantly SWNE is my standard and daily read in the life I live. I am somewhat of an anomaly within my career, and usually get teased for my dress. I find comfort, consistency, and confidence in my dress based upon content such as listed here. Thank you for the substance on this wonderful site where I can refuel.

    My Best,
    Todd

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    1. Impressive reply, Todd. Good for you!

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    2. Am not a "Kentuckian" however having lived there in the 90's because of husbands career, have lived a few different places for that reason, prep can be found thick as syrup in Lexington. You should feel right at home. PA

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    3. You made my day with this wonderful, honest reply, Todd. Well said.

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  32. Subtle changes over time. As a native West-Coaster with long career in major-market software, blue jeans are uniform but never anything with "stretch". Despite the denim, always wear decent button-downs to work, perhaps an Ivy influence from school, no matter which trousers are worn - and no sneakers. I've always had nice jackets with dress chinos and Sero shirts for customer meetings and evening events. Open weekend attire is unabashedly jeans, polo shirts and delightfully drab but clean Adidas court shoes. For the rare cooler Summers, I grab my OCBD's instead of polo shirts!

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  33. Silk/pima slips under Eileen Fisher/JJill overall type dresses, worn with leggings, assorted silk/cashmere scarves, clogs from Cole Haan was fine until German Air Force pulled out of the Base. I could pass as a “foreigner/tourist”- now any differences/acceptance has gone. The Disapproval Police from 1970 is alive and let you know.

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    1. Ugh, leggings? Seriously?

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    2. Hello DP.
      Yes leggings you could see from the knee down.

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    3. Love all the comments here- I have learned much! Thank you.

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    4. I first saw leggings worn under a dress at a fashion photoshoot in 2007, worn by a young assistant who was steaming the garments. My impression at the time was that she was very avant-garde and artsy.

      As fashion trickles down, twelve years later, leggings are now popularly worn, with tunics or dresses (hopefully) by older women who have good legs but want to hide their bellies.

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    5. Anon 4:05 - agree so much! I love leggings under dresses in the winter. That's my standard - wool dress, leggings and Blundstone boots.

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  34. I am 41 and I have found, in recent years, the joy of tailored suits. Also, ties, pocket squares, tie clips, and a sharp barbered undercut. Also, I’m a lady, so there are power heels going on as well. I make an entrance. Thanks, gentlemen, for having so many suiting options!
    Growing up, I dressed trad - if a bit mousy. Khakis, polos, etc.
    I truly believe I have found my style now, and I have a great time with It! Some may call it Garconne, some say sprezzatura. This may terrify some, but I often like to accessorize with an unconventional hair color as well.

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  35. At 32 years old I find my style is becoming more relaxed. I don't wear heels as often and all new shoe purchases have been flats. I've started wearing more relaxed fits as opposed to tailored clothing on the weekend. Of course, I always go for quality.

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  36. I was gratified recently to find a photograph of myself at 25 and I realize that I'm still wearing a variation of that classic style. That said, I've adapted and/or abandoned it at various points in my life to accommodate the requirements of my career. One of the principles of being a classic dresser is the the clothes don't call attention to themselves—in a situation where classic dressing isn't the norm, the clothes do the exact opposite of what they're intended to do: they make the wearer conspicuous. That said, at almost 57, I've been returned more and more to my original style of dress over the years, as the parameters of my worklife are now set by me. And those old classics feels like "me."

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  37. I've apparently gotten taller as several of my dresses are now a tad too short. I'm going with the "I'm taller" theory vs. the "I'm too old" theory. Otherwise, mostly the same. The boho 60s & 70s blouses of my youth have been re-branded as tunics, which is awesome.

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    1. Have you figured out how to re-purpose the bell bottoms?

      Aiken

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    2. I actually still have one pair of bell bottoms that I wear every now and then. They have been re-branded as flairs :)

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    3. Wish I'd saved my oh-so-cool 1971 bell bottoms with frayed hems and patches .... they'd bring a tidy sum on eBay today.

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    4. Flairs! I love it.

      Aiken

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  38. To all who've left such affirming replies, I am so appreciative. I should have consulted my copy of Strunk and White's, The Elements of Style, prior to hitting the send button, but all is well.
    7/29 at 4:21, you're absolutely spot on in your assessment of Lexington. I live in Lexington, and we just love it. Horse country is beautiful here and I'm fortunate to have had the opportunity to call Lexington my home for the entirety of my life.
    7/30 at 11:29, thank you as well for your kind remark. I lived many years with regret of my past choices in relation to how I want to be perceived today. All of which are based on vanity. I have learned, however, that my consistent worry or reflection of my tattoos, or choice of dress in days past, is nothing short of egocentrism because honestly, I'm not sure anyone really cares today what I wore then or what I wear now.

    My Best,
    Todd

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    1. ohhh I don't know...thinking along the "birthday suit" line...might care about that at work.

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  39. Best post in a long time due to all the great comments.
    My style is pretty much the same as high school days. Except, ahem, for the size.
    MaryAnne

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  40. I read Lisa Birnbach's "Official Preppy Handbook" when I was about 11, and I knew I'd found my style. I got the book's affectionate humor, as a pretty precocious kid, and didn't take it all too seriously, but the relaxed yet formal ethos really spoke to me. (Somewhat embarrassingly, my younger brother and I took to calling ourselves Trip -- I'm a III -- and Skip. But that didn't last long.)

    Fortunately, prep was a manner of dress that wasn't too hard to maintain even after my family fell on hard times a couple of years later. I had no need of anything trendy or particularly expensive. I've made a few adjustments over the years -- I no longer pop my polo collars, or wear two OCBDs at once (saw that on Bloomingdale's mannequins in the late '80s) -- but my style away from work is pretty firmly preppy to this day.

    At work I wear suits with plain-toe dress shoes Monday through Thursday, and observe casual Friday with a blazer, open collar, chinos and loafers. None of that is necessary. I'm a largely deskbound journalist, and colleagues in my office range from neatly casual to complete slobs. However, I agree with John Cheever's invocation of the sumptuary laws, even though they're barely even guidelines anymore. Also, I'm black, which makes me particularly sensitive to the possibility of being taken for the help if I'm not dressed for business. Surely an irrational concern, but there you go. My weekday style is less preppy than British-American traditional -- suits with peaked lapels, surgeon's cuffs and a go-to-hell lavender lining; French-cuffed shirts with moderate spread collars. Never flashy, but not sack suits with single vents.

    All in all, I'm very comfortable with my personal style. At 49, I can say I dress exactly as I wish every day, and that's all one can ask for.

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  41. I have always wondered why men can wear what they want, women can not and it is common to be commented on what women wear/act/want- separate rules apply to both sexes from dress, wages, society rules, etc...

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  42. I tend to wear fewer khakis as not only is it harder to find good khakis but I live in central Europe and they scream 'foreign tourist' where I live, and I don't necessarily need that. So I tend to wear dark jeans which blend in better and conceal dirt.

    --EM

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    1. It's amazing to me that, in central Europe, dark jeans help one fit in better with the locals, while khakis scream foreign tourist. I just returned from a two week trip to Scotland, and one take away from the experience was that most people in America and Europe basically dress the same way these days. Most everyone I saw - Scottish, American, or otherwise - was wearing a combination of t-shirts and/or hoodies, jeans or shorts, and athletic shoes of one brand or another. This is a significant departure from my first experience in Europe 13 years ago. In advance of a trip to Spain, I was advised to avoid wearing denim, shorts, and flip flops in order to blend it. The advice was spot on. I remember seeing very few "American" looking Spaniards (or tourists, for that matter) during the trip. That was in 2006. It's amazing how quickly things have changed. American culture seems to have taken over.

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    2. I'm not so sure about that. I was in Europe for two years in the 1960s and I returned for a visit a few years ago. Since the war at least, we have mostly dressed the same. Coat and tie was considered essential for public appearances when I was there. We have both become for casual in the last fifty years but to really date a look, just check out the hair in YouTube video audiences during that time frame. Or the hairstyle of individual performers over the same time period. But no doubt, there were people fifty years ago wondering why people don't dress the way they used to when they were younger.

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  43. job demands have influenced. Suits for office and courtrooms in my 20s; offices became more casual during the tech boom, suits are still normal for formal work situations, but offices are fairly casual, wool or cotton trousers and button downs with no ties are normal now. began supplementing neckties with bow ties in my 30s; bought a great pair of madras shorts in my 30s, still wear them. started with brooks bros. cotton shirts, soft button down collars/cuffs/plackets, dabbled with pointed collars, no iron cotton, but have ultimately migrated back to the shirts i started out with, eg mercer & sons and similar options. shoes, i moved from less pricy shoes to alden shell cordovan and rancourt late 30s/early 40s, and that was more or less the end of replacing shoes; i just keep re-soling them and get a new pair very occasionally. outside work, i still wear the same type of cotton hiking shorts (patagonia) I wore in my teens/20s but have complemented them with some pair of better looking shorts, more casual button-down shirts, golf shirts in my 40s/50s.

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  44. Pretty much the same LL Bean khakis and shirts, etc. Have added more linen which suits the summer climate here and the winter in FL. I guess one change is I am less likely to iron and starch my linen shirts. I like the casualness of no starch. Also, the humidity sees to the wrinkles. If it only took care of crows feet!

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  45. I have made adjustments. I wear less jeans but this is Texas after all and if you don't show up in pair once in a while they look at you strangely. I find I am less brand conscious. There are good quality tee shirts at the mid scale departments stores that fit just as well and are 50% less than Ralph Lauren. ($49 for a tee shirt? UHH no.) I no longer wear graphic tees, wear shorts much less, (honestly, I never had the legs for them) and have traded out loafers for classic sneakers like Vans and Adidas Stan Smith. Still I work for a casual dress company and am the only male there who still wears cotton and wool dress pants to work. I find one nice suit and a couple of smart blazers suffice for more formal occasions.


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  46. Still preppy, but a lot more casual. The fabrics are a lot more comfortable and fit better due to a slight bit of stretch being added to natural fibers. Sorry to the die hards, but I value comfort! Color schemes still the same. Styles are a bit updated and a better fit on the female form rather than just a small straight up male size. Looking back at old photos of me in preppy garb, I really feel that the tailoring has improved, or maybe it is just that I can afford more expensive clothing??

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  47. MY only problem with prep style, which is a subset of classic American style is the pastels. I’d prefer a richer color scheme.

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  48. Back in the 1950's the Army would'nt let me wear my white bucks and grey flannels to formation otherwise still at it at eighty nine although people still call me "Joe College" or "Trip" and I'm hoping LLB will straighten out and go back to their old ways and start offering proper clothing, prices and service. Things ain't good in Freeport Leonwood.

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