Casual dress escaped the barn and garage to transform the backyard and the shopping mall. Then, it jumped the fence to the office, the classroom, and religious services. Ease of care, freedom of movement, and promotion of equality prompted this fashion trend. Cotton blend clothing needs no ironing. It can be cleaned in an automatic washer with soap and water. It breathes to help regulate body temperature and dries quickly. Chino, gabardine, and denim fabric can endure frequent washes without diminishing the longevity of the garment. Cotton knits drape the body comfortably and attractively because they stretch with movement. They represent visual equality in that they can be economically mass produced. No matter one’s income or occupation, it is possible to be well-groomed. No more stains even if work requires more exertion than sitting at a desk. Wrinkles are nonexistent even when ironing isn’t in one’s repertoire.
In earlier times, clothing distinguished social status. Hand tailored clothing created of delicate, natural materials demonstrated that the wearer was a person of substance. The cut and fit of the outfit, the expense of the fabric, and the demands of its care were evidence of taste, intellectual pursuits, and wealth. Well-educated and professionally employed people wore silks, wools, and fine cottons. Housekeepers, laborers, and trades people wore durable, loose-fitting, and easy to clean clothing in fabrics such as denim and twill. Today, the boss is likely wearing the same type of clothing as his or her staff. Whether it is overalls, blazers and slacks, or polo shirts and chinos, the company dress code applies to all. Position is demonstrated by performance, not appearance.
Concern about environmental pollution, conservation of water, and the institutionalization of two paycheck families, not social status will have major influences upon fashion in the near future. Working adults want to spend less time on laundry. They want to live in communities with clean air and sufficient water supplies. They’re concerned about the quality of the life that their grandchildren will live. Clothing that is self-cleaning is already under development. Imagine never having to wash clothes again. Anti-bacterial clothing is now for sale, but needs improvement. Knits are likely to prompt the demise of ironing. Add the electricity savings to the savings from using unheated water to wash clothes. Business casual workplace dress codes permit cardigan and v-neck sweaters, turtleneck tops, stretch slacks, and knit dresses. Knits may ensure the disappearance of the fastener, too. T-shirts, sweatpants, turtlenecks, pullover sweaters, and elastic waist skirts need no zippers or buttons. Even dressing will consume less time and energy.
© Laura Rizzardini, Inc., 2012