WILL TACKLES FASHION…. The Washington Post‘s George Will tends to get into trouble writing about economics. His problems with columns about global warming are obvious. Will occasionally will write about baseball with minimal controversy, but those items tend to be rather dull.
Today, the conservative columnist branches out a bit, focusing his energies on pants. Not just any pants, mind you, but pants made of denim. Will, apparently, doesn’t care for them.
Denim is the carefully calculated costume of people eager to communicate indifference to appearances. But the appearances that people choose to present in public are cues from which we make inferences about their maturity and respect for those to whom they are presenting themselves.
Do not blame Levi Strauss for the misuse of Levi’s. When the Gold Rush began, Strauss moved to San Francisco planning to sell strong fabric for the 49ers’ tents and wagon covers. Eventually, however, he made tough pants, reinforced by copper rivets, for the tough men who knelt on the muddy, stony banks of Northern California creeks, panning for gold. Today it is silly for Americans whose closest approximation of physical labor consists of loading their bags of clubs into golf carts to go around in public dressed for driving steers up the Chisholm Trail to the railhead in Abilene.
This is not complicated. For men, sartorial good taste can be reduced to one rule: If Fred Astaire would not have worn it, don’t wear it. For women, substitute Grace Kelly.
Edmund Burke — what he would have thought of the denimization of America can be inferred from his lament that the French Revolution assaulted “the decent drapery of life”; it is a straight line from the fall of the Bastille to the rise of denim — said: “To make us love our country, our country ought to be lovely.” Ours would be much more so if supposed grown-ups would heed St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, and St. Barack’s inaugural sermon to the Americans, by putting away childish things, starting with denim.
Will proceeded to say we should all get off his lawn, unless we’re wearing slacks, in which case we can stay.
OK, I made up that last part, but Will really did write a 747-word column on a fabric he doesn’t like.
I’m at a loss.