George Will – Never in Blue Jeans
George Will's view of denim is about forty years out of date.
George Will hates the fact that Americans wear blue jeans. Not only is denim a faux populism adopted by a decadent elite, it makes it impossible to distinguish parents from their children, what with them all decked out in jeans and sneakers.
Denim is the infantile uniform of a nation in which entertainment frequently features childlike adults (“Seinfeld,” “Two and a Half Men”) and cartoons for adults (“King of the Hill”). Seventy-five percent of American “gamers” — people who play video games — are older than 18 and nevertheless are allowed to vote. In their undifferentiated dress, children and their childish parents become undifferentiated audiences for juvenilized movies (the six — so far — “Batman” adventures and “Indiana Jones and the Credit-Default Swaps,” coming soon to a cineplex near you). Denim is the clerical vestment for the priesthood of all believers in democracy’s catechism of leveling — thou shalt not dress better than society’s most slovenly. To do so would be to commit the sin of lookism — of believing that appearance matters. That heresy leads to denying the universal appropriateness of everything, and then to the elitist assertion that there is good and bad taste.
This strikes me as a rather narrowminded existence. I own a ridiculous number of suits and ties, which I wear to the office and various semi-formal events. I even own a tux that I don two or three times a year on appropriate occasions, including plays and whatnot where perhaps ten percent of the other men are wearing them. I also own several pairs of jeans, which I find more appropriate for weekend errands, cookouts, and other very informal gatherings. I even have chinos and slacks and sport coats for occasions and moods that fall in between.
UPDATE: One recurring criticism of Will that I’ve seen in my comments and elsewhere in response to this column is that he wears a bow tie. Amusingly, while that’s my mental image of him as well, he’s worn standard four-in-hand neckties for years, at least in his television appearances.
Photo by Flickr user J.Ota under Creative Commons license.