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Why does the MC tailored aesthetic fetishise the idea of insouciant dressing?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Holdfast, Aug 6, 2012.

  1. emptym

    emptym Senior member Moderator

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    This is a very interesting thought and probably true in large part. But I would argue that the Protestant ethic has contributed to insouciance in dress. If there is a united Protestant ethic, it favors hard work in areas thought to be of high value (business, study, morality, prayer), but it does not praise time and effort spent on things of perceived low value, such as personal appearance and reputation.

    In recent coverage of the Olympic games you could see clearly how Americans praise hard work, dedicated training, and self-sacrifice for a worthy cause. It was even obvious in the recent Batman movie: Bruce Wayne is both playboy and Batman. As the playboy he looks good, trashes his luxurious accoutrements (clothes, cars, furniture, arm candy) and shows up on the tabloid pages. He is the model of insouciance, and as such he's admired to an extent. But not nearly as much as when he takes on the role of the Batman, who devotes long hours to study and physical conditioning (to defend and improve his community) while not caring much at all about his looks ("Does it come in black?") or reputation.

    So, imo, we praise hard work and attention to detail in "worthwhile pursuits" and not in "frivolous" ones. And, this is at least partly due to the Protestant emphasis on the fallenness of the body and the physical world in general. Catholics and Orthodox Xns see the physical world as fallen but still "sacramental," i.e. despite sin, creation is imbued with the goodness of the creator, so it can lift the mind/soul of a person to God. See the liberal use of vestments, incense, icons, statues, stained glass, etc.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2012
  2. emptym

    emptym Senior member Moderator

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    This is very interesting and insightful too. However, iirc, it was Plato, much more than Aristotle, who thought that one's birth influenced who one was to become. I agree that Aristotle thought one's birth, and luck in general, were important. But didn't he emphasize that (1) one's life depended primarily on one's character, (2) character is the sum total of one's virtues and vices, and (3) virtues and vices are formed by long, arduous periods of practice and study? So, for example, iirc, he thought people tended to be self-indulgent by nature, and so we should practice self-denial in order to become moderate and self-controled. Virtues for him are more a matter of habit or "second nature" than nature. Is that not the case?

    As you know, Xn theology on the relationship between grace and work is complicated. Augustine and other early church fathers thought they must cooperate. Thomas developed a systematic theory that combined Plato and Aristotle's "acquired" virtues (justice, prudence, courage, etc.) with Paul's "infused" ones (faith, hope, and charity). Luther separated the body and soul, claimed that faith alone saved the soul, but works were good for disciplining the body and providing worthwhile expressions of faith and love. On the surface, he seems to separate grace and works, but I think a careful study shows he remains Catholic in holding them as complementary.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2012
  3. hendrix

    hendrix Senior member

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    very interesting thread, subscribed
     
  4. SamSpade

    SamSpade Senior member

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    I appreciate the philosophical references, but this may be taking it too far - for most of human history, the obsession about how to dress simply did not exist as a concern except for ceremonial purposes (under which I also class styles and rules developed by the ultra-rich in each respective epoch). Other than that clothing was simply an integral part of everyday culture/art, and I doubt it was ever scrutinized the way it is today.

    Things changed in modernity, since a variety of aspirations became possible, and I'd imagine consciously working on one's clothing was/is one way to express them. The other thing is the advent of consumer markets. A lot of what passes for tradition, is simply the invention of burgeois shop keepers looking for stuff to sell to the rich. It is no accident that it is possible to pinpoint the birth of the Dandy (Brumell) at the exact same time when the industrial capitalism was taking off. Brumell was simply a run of the mill middle class douchebag who aspired to be a rich/aristocratic douchebag, who stumbled upon a way to liberate this striving from tradition and turn it (dressing) into an "art" in itself. The rich douches were impressed by his ability to show semblance of grace, and it's been a perpetual class fashion struggle between the old money, the new money, and the plebs ever since.

    We, the SFers are the biggest suckers born since then: if we had the common sense not to fall for this fashion bullshit, we'd be living happier and more secure lives with half the effort.:nodding:
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2012
  5. Tirailleur1

    Tirailleur1 Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    HOW THE HELL DID I MISS THIS THREAD?!?!?
     
  6. poorsod

    poorsod Senior member

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    I have another point I wanted to add regarding context. Since Brummell, I think one of the roles of the man is to give contrast to the lady on his arm, so she may shine brighter. He is serious and correct so she can be lavish and glamorous. Otherwise, his sloppiness would distract and his peacockery would compete with viewers from her grace.
     

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