Minor issues like dress codes have a tendency to Fester

When I write about dress codes, a lot of folks — especially women, and specifically among this particular group of humans, my wife — tend to get all upset with my opinions on how folks should be able to dress. 

With a few exceptions here and there, my general opinion is that you ought to be able to dress however you dang well please.

I’ve always been the guy pushing dress codes to the limit. In school, I found board shorts that I could pull down just enough to barely meet our vice principal’s measuring stick to determine if they reached far enough below the knee. At my first full-time job — as a very low-paid sportswriter at the Valdosta Daily Times — we were expected to wear ties. I did … for a while. But after walking sidelines in 100-degree heat at football practices, I gave that up and became the guy targeted by our editor’s memo that began: “Apparently, some of you have forgotten the dress code.”

Um, no. Didn’t forget it for a second. Laughed about it a few times, yes, but I never forgot it.

For about 40 years now, I’ve been pushing back against dress codes and conformity, ruffling the feathers of, well, just about everybody. One thing’s for sure, though, folks are far more worried about the way I dress, what I eat, what I say, etc. than I am.

Lately, a lot of folks have gotten their neckties in a wad because Sen. John Fetterman — the giant from Pennsylvania who only won his seat because Donald Trump endorsed a clown doctor (the Herschel Walker of Pennsylvania, if you will) — has been wearing hoodies and gym shorts and such around the hallowed halls of Congress. These are the same hallowed halls, mind you, where Rep. Jewish Space Laser of Georgia and Rep. Vapy McGropya are free to roam. They say Fetterman’s attire disrespects the institution — the same institution many of them helped put in danger when they echoed baloney that inspired frothing-at-the-mouths hordes of Trumpers to attack on Jan. 6, 2021.

They do have a point. I mean, come on Sen. Fetterman. I like to push and aggravate folks, but you went in for the kill a little too quickly. You’ve got to nibble at the edges and casually point out the ridiculousness of such things as ties and wearing sportscoats during another one of the hottest years in Earth’s history.

A tie is perhaps the dumbest thing to wear this side of women’s high heels. It has absolutely zero function. It doesn’t hold your head on. It’s a neck decorator. It screams conformity. And as hot as this planet is getting, a tank top makes more sense than a sportscoat or three-piece suit.

Recently, not only did Sen. Fetterman draw the ire of conformists and traditionalists, but so did Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine who visited Congress last week and didn’t wear the standard attire of do-nothing U.S. senators. He wore a basic army-green button-down shirt, really upsetting the likes of Sen. J.D. Vance, the “Hillbilly Elegy” author-turned-senator who once spoke ill of Trumpism before realizing that he could ride the wave to power by embracing it. (Some impressive integrity there).

“Letting someone in the senate chamber dressed like this really crosses the line,” Vance tweeted or X’d or whatever it is folks do on Elon Musk’s social media toy.

Maybe Zelensky doesn’t have time to play dress-up while his country is being invaded by an evil madman whose forces rape and pillage and target civilians, hospitals and infrastructure — much of it with tacit support from some fancy-dressed folks in our U.S. Congress.

And it’s not like the suit and tie thing is going to last. I mean, our Founding Fathers basically dressed like a bunch of drag queens with wigs and stockings and make-up and such. These folks today claim to love some Founding Fathers, but if you walk into Congress dressed like one of them, even Sen. Fetterman is going to point and laugh at you. That’s because that old attire is ludicrous, just like a suit and tie. Thank goodness I’ve seen enough “Star Trek” through the years to know that this phase of stupidity also will someday die and 400 years from now we can go about the serious business of exploring the far reaches of the universe in our pajamas. We will evolve.

The Founding Fathers during an official congressional session of Rupaul's Drag Race.

I’ve made it clear that if I die before my wife — and there’s about a 98.4 percent chance of that — no memorial service (or celebration) shall involve the wearing of ridiculous, uncomfortable clothing. No ties allowed. In fact, if you want to come dressed like a Parrot Head tailgating before a Jimmy Buffett concert, that is perfectly fine.

(Brief pause as I remember once again that my hero is gone. Tears. Convulsions. End scene.)

But I admit there are times when you probably should conform and play the dress-up game, maybe even wear that ol’ neck decorator, the tie. I’ve worn a tie once this summer, at the funeral of a friend’s mother. Sometimes, it ain’t about yourself. You yield to others. You show respect. And the last time I wore a suit and then a sportscoat were on back-to-back days in El Salvador in December of last year. The first day was at a fancy gala … that wasn’t about me. The next day, we visited El Salvador’s White House. Again, that wasn’t about me. I wore what I was supposed to. I conformed. And, as soon as possible, I changed into comfortable clothes.

Comfortable clothes, what a concept.

We all have things about clothing that irk us. I don’t like seeing young men’s butts when their jeans are sagging. I don’t like seeing women covered up to conform to a religious group’s demands. I don’t worry about it a whole lot, though.

And I certainly don’t worry about it as much as folks worry about my attire — or Senator Fetterman’s clothing. I don’t care what he wears, and that’s not just because he’s my third-favorite Uncle Fester.

It’s because I care more about what lawmakers do than what they wear.

And if you look pretty hard at what they’ve done in recent years — or not done — hoodies ought to be the least of your concerns.

What do you think about this?