September 15, 2008 in Features

The Slice: It’s called dressing for depress

By The Spokesman-Review
 
The Spokesman-Review photo

Saving the best for last.
(Full-size photo)

I’ve figured out why many people around here don’t like to get dressed up.

It’s because, for more than a few of us, donning our best clothes often leads to discovering a months-old memorial service program in one of the pockets. And let’s face it, that’s sort of a downer.

After experiencing these funeral flashbacks a few times, it’s inevitable that we would subconsciously start to form negative associations with those suits.

In wealthier parts of the country, in places where it’s the norm to have walk-in closets full of semi-formal clothes, this might not be an issue. Here in the penny-pinching Inland Northwest, however, a lot of us have limited dress-up wardrobes.

So we can wind up wearing the same duds to funeral after funeral.

Oh, sure, there are Spokane-area residents who put on high-end attire for a variety of occasions. Not many, though.

Have you been to a wedding around here lately? Did you notice that more than a few of the attendees were dressed as if they were at a ballgame?

Same goes for fine dining, a night at the theater and on and on. Many people here tend to view the calendar as having 365 casual days.

It’s tempting to take our region to task for this relaxed attitude about fashion. And certainly, some do.

Perhaps you’ve heard observers who are not fans of informal dress wonder if people here are lazy or just reluctant to grow up. Or you might have encountered the criticism that Spokane-area residents so revere their rural roots that they tend to dress as if planning to spend the day in the woods.

Others suggest we simply wouldn’t know etiquette if it stabbed us with a misplaced salad fork.

There might be something to all of those theories.

But I would urge you to consider this idea that some of us associate dressing up with somber gatherings.

Think about it. Wouldn’t you veer away from neckties if seemingly every time you wore one you wound up hearing about someone loved by all and taken too soon?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not making fun of funerals. Trust me.

But I honestly believe some of us start to think of certain outfits as our bereavement togs.

When you slip your hand into a pocket and withdraw a folded-up memorial service program, well, you feel a weight pressing down.

Unhappy things can happen when we’re wearing jeans and T-shirts, of course. Still, laid-back outfits seldom become our sorrow uniforms.

Denial is never the answer. But maybe you can’t blame those who own one decent suit that fits for feeling like that’s what they wear when it’s time to say some hard goodbyes.

Today’s Slice question (late summer rerun from 1992): Is there an Inland Northwest accent?

Write The Slice at P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; fax (509) 459-5098; e-mail pault@spokesman.com. Send your business card to enter The Slice’s next grand-prize drawing.


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