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Scruffs are Us !

Posted by Big John on April 12, 2012

One thing that I have noticed over the years is how standards of dress have declined. ‘Sunday Best’ disappeared years ago and even the smartest restaurants no longer require that “gentlemen wear ties”.

Today the unkept ‘celeb‘ look seems to be the fashion. Every TV chat show guest seem to wear the same ‘uniform’ of T shirt, suit jacket and jeans (holes are optional). 

The same thing applies when it comes to ‘proper’ uniforms. Just look at some of our police officers in their ‘hi-viz’ vests, polo shirts and baseball caps, or the assorted garish garb worn by many public transport staff and, by far the worst of all, the employees of ‘Royal Mail’. Yes, our postmen take some beating when it comes to ‘sack of shit’ scruffy ! 

I was reminded of just how things have changed when I was searching through some family papers last week and came across this photograph of one of my uncles. It was probably taken in the late 1920’s  and shows a very young man in the uniform of what was then The General Post Office (GPO).

I wonder what happened to …

“Taking pride in your appearance” ?


3 Responses to “Scruffs are Us !”

  1. Looking through a book on costumes, one quickly realizes how fashions and standards of dress vary through time and across communities. Clothes are not simply for the purpose of covering the naughty bits and keeping warm: they also indicate our relationship with our community (both conformity and rebellion). In that sense, we all wear a “uniform”.

    Language evolves by a mysterious process of consensus. Consensus is necessary because language endlessly changes (at times quite rapidly) but needs to remain comprehensible to all speakers. Costume is similar in that respect. While some people dress in eccentric fashion (just as some people speak in an odd way), the general trends remain within boundaries that are acceptable to the given society (.e.g. there is a limit on what parts of the body can be revealed in what circumstances – transgress and you get arrested).

    Back in the early to middle 20th century, “smartness” was in fashion, perhaps because we had had a series of wars that brought military standards to public consciousness. It is no longer so prized, nor was it before that period: look at pictures of people like Brunel and see their scruffy suits and battered hats.

    “Smartness” shades into obsessiiveness and too much of it is inconvenient to the wearer and a nuisance to others (“Don’t mess my hair!”). I think as long as people keep themselves and their clothes clean we can be relaxed about the rest. In fact, I rather enjoy the weird and wonderful and colourful costumes that many young people come up with. I have been known to ask permission to photograph them… 🙂

  2. rummuser said

    People do take pride in their appearance even now, except that the idea of quite what is appropriate now is different from our days. They have to follow the herd and that is so easy. I belong to your generation when even wearing a blazer to work instead of a full suit was considered infra dig. But now if I wear a blazer on trousers, I am considered to be stuffy!

  3. Ginnie said

    I prefer casual but there’s a big difference between “casual” and “just plain dirty”. This is most apparent to me when I compare the people watching I did back in the 50’s at airports (the very elite with their entourage of “underlings” trailing behind) and now with scruffy humans spread all over the floor sleeping until their plane arrives. Ugh…

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