formal doesnt mean better, right?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by samnc, Dec 29, 2012.

  1. samnc

    samnc Well-Known Member

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    Sep 19, 2012
    First, thanks for helping me look good :)

    I want to make sure I understand something..when you say that a dress shirt is more formal when the collar is not the button-kind or black shoes are more formal than browns, this only means more formal, not inherently better, or even more appropriate, right?

    In other words, a $300 pair of black formal dress shoes are not inherently made better than a $300 pair of more casual looking shoes, right? Or, a striped dress shirt with a button collar is not inferior to a white dress shirt, assuming its the same brand and everything else...just used for different purposes...correct?

  2. eluther

    eluther Senior member

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    Apr 10, 2011
    Always always always dress for the occasion.

    Formal is better for formal occasions.

    Informal is better for informal occasions.

    When you start talking about cost to quality ("better" as you put it), you start dealing with very different things. Typically a $300 pair of super informal shoes, i.e. sneakers, are going to be of an inferior quality of a pair of $300 black bals. However, a pair of $500 chukkas made by Alden, let's say, is more or less the same as a pair of their $500 black dress shoes. The lesson: Cost is not an equalizer in terms of quality.

    However, when you start dealing with formal clothing you are going to spend more money. Formality in clothing is nothing more than a visual form of conspicuous consumption, e.g. I have a white dress shirt with a bib and pearl studs in addition to the clothing I wear every day and you don't. So, while the increased price in formal clothing doesn't necessarily speak to its quality in a meaningful way, and definitely not in the case you provided for shoes, formal clothing is something that gets inextricably tied up in "price" and "value."

    TL;DR: You are correct. Formality has nothing to do with quality*.

  3. forseti6

    forseti6 Senior member

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    Aug 2, 2010
    Formal = utility.
    Better = taste.

    Totally unrelated. Something could be formal but in poor taste. I.E. patent leather shoes that are ugly.
    Something could be exquisite, but informal. I.E. cordovan brogues.

  4. Johnboy

    Johnboy Senior member

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    Oct 3, 2012
    Yes you are correct in what you say

    Formal : Done in accordance with rules of convention or etiquette; suitable for or constituting an official or important situation or occasion.

    Casual: In the European tradition, casual is the dress code that emphasizes comfort and personal expression over presentation and uniformity.

    So it is more about the formality or not of the event or occasion that would determine which clothing would be more appropriate.

    It is much like style and fashion, most fashion is not stylish, fashion clothing is mostly brash and flamboyant whereas stylish clothing is mostly more conservative and restrained. Many people confuse style and fashion.

  5. MyOtherLife

    MyOtherLife Senior member

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    Sep 30, 2009
    The Arena - Centerfield
    To the layman, 'formal' may mean wearing ones 'best' clothes to anywhere, whereas to one who understands the meaning and application(s) of the word, 'formal' is in fact, a specific occasion, held at a specific location for a specific period of time for a specific purpose and there are specific expectations required of its participants to pay due regard to established protocols of clothing and conduct.

    There is Formal and Formalwear. Google these 2 words and reap the rewards of your labour. The short answer to these questions is: Formal is an occasion that serves a hierchy of some sort (anywhere from the occasions of Royalty, nobility, to Suzy & Billy's wedding or the last dance of the school year. etc). Formalwear is clothing that adheres to protocol, or a set of pre-defined rules serving the occasion. In other words, Formal refers to a place and-or occasion, Formalwear is what you wear to that place and-or occasion.
    There are hierchies that serve the Royalty, Religion and Politics and there are hierchies that serve the public. Each has structure and protocols (rigid rules) of dress and conduct. There is also an expectation of adherance to the afore-mentioned thereof.
    Social , cultural, economic and religious classes also contribute to defining the lines of these occasions and their participants.
    Most people say the word 'formal' without understanding the 'whys and wherefores' of the different worlds that reside within the word.

    With regard to the clothing itself, there is a wide range of manufacturers, quality and price that caters to every social class and budget just as there is for any other type of clothing.
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2012

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