Today I got asked about the dress code for class. I think the person asking was a little surprised that it’s casual dress for class. As with everything in my classes, there’s a reason behind that. Give me a minute to explain.
As I’ve written about before, I’m an old-fashioned girl at heart. However, there are some things I am glad have changed. Take dressing up to travel by plane. I like to be able to dress comfortably when I know I’ll be traveling for a while and possibly sleeping on the plane. (You won’t catch me in pajama pants, though – those are only for around the house when I am 100% positive no one is coming to my front door!)
What I do long for are the days where the behavior on commercial flights tended to be more respectful and formal, though. There was a time earlier this year when it seemed like every week brought a news story about a fight on a plane, a passenger getting dragged off, or a flight having to turn around because of an unruly passenger. Give what research has been done (Google “Behavior linked to dress” and you’ll get over 9 million hits!) it’s possible to believe that the decline in behavior is linked to a decline in dress.
And now that brings me back to the question of why casual dress for my etiquette classes. It’s seems counterintuitive since I believe behavior and attire are linked. The answer is that I’m trying to change the mentality that casual dress means casual behavior. I want my students to learn that using proper etiquette and being on their best behavior isn’t reserved for when they’re dressed up and attending a special function or event.
Etiquette is for every day. Be your best when you’re wearing jeans and a T-shirt. Don’t save it until you’re dressed up to “be on your best behavior.” (Did anyone else’s mom tell them that when they were going somewhere special and wearing our dress shoes?) Use your table manners and dining skills every day – even when you’re eating leftovers – and it will be second nature when you finally get to that 5 star restaurant in Paris. You’ll be able to enjoy the foods and the view of the Eiffel Tower without any worry about what fork to use first.
Dressing up isn’t always needed.