Okay, really busy, but some changes: Before WWII: - The end of the American Great Depression. - The emergence of the assembly line as the predominant form of production. - The increasing ubiquity of catalogue/mail order shopping. After WWII - The continued popularization of military styled and work clothing. Â Many clothing conventions to that time had military roots, but WWII was the most conscripted war in modern times (unless you count the Napoleanic wars) and the uniform traditions that were adapted were not those of dress or officer uniforms, but the drab, durable and function uniform of infantry conscripts. - The emergence of Method Acting (I kid you not) and the emergence of the anti-hero, from Brando in Streetcar to James Dean in Rebel without a cause. Â The hero was no longer elegant and dandified - he was a man who sweated, rolled up his sleeves, and slouched in his clothing. - The baby boom and the reaction against the status quo by the boomers in the 60s - those who grew up in the 60s have never put the yoke of the suit on as comfortably as they did in the past. Â And putting on a suit came to symbolize conformity and drudgery (See "Man in the Grey Flannel Suit".) - Related to the above: the youth movements of the 50's and 60's, from the mods to the hippies, who defied or redefined the conventions previously held. - the continued democratization of fashion to the present. Many more changes. Â Will post more later. Â Point is, we are not in the 20's anymore.
still not sure how any of those points lead to the conclusion that the 'rules' we're talking about are now obsolete. within the subculture begun by the elements represented by the anti-hero, youth movements, etc., perhaps they are. that subculture has set up its own set of rules which necessarily are counter to the establishment's. but to those in the mainstream, the 'rules' we're talking about play an important role in getting along well with others. same as etiquette, manners, and customs. it doesn't matter much whether these things are 100% pure logic and common sense, what matters is that they are understood and expected. democratization notwithstanding, there will always be centers of power and hierarchies emanating from them. as long as that happens, aspirants to power will dress to impress, and the rules will still be relevant. it just so happens that in our current time, there are multiple centers of power and influence that issue a wider range of 'rules', such that the jeans-and-tshirt crowd can still obtain at least a modicum of social success without the constricting ties and braces. however, until eminem becomes president (and dr. dre is minister of agriculture), i will not believe that the codified rules are too narrowly defined, because they still apply to the mainstream of power and culture. /andrew