30 October 2009

Clothed vs. dressed

An astute Fabulous Reader points out that the title's a bit of a misnomer:
I beg to differ :) Everyone puts on clothes. Not everyone "gets dressed." I put on clothes most mornings. Getting dressed -- a mere step away from the coveted getting dressed UP -- is another matter entirely.
and, on some level, I can't help but agree. There are mornings when I'll grab the first articles of clothing that provide sufficient coverage and warmth for the season, and others when I spend hours obsessing over The Perfect Outfit.

However, I can't fully agree. I think that, except in a few very certain circumstances, there's an aspect of selection involved in what we wear, although it might not necessarily happen at the moment when those fibers hit our bodies.

For example, I know a gentleman who often has to rise before his wife. In an ongoing act of true selflessness, he has carefully selected his wardrobe so that every piece coordinates with every other and he can literally get dressed in the dark without waking her. Now, obviously, as he dresses by Braille each morning, he's not making any deliberate choice as to his appearance for the day. The choice was made at an earlier point, but it was still a deliberate, well-thought-out decision.

Then, too, there's what I like to call the "meh" factor. Apathy is a choice too. Not every decision has to be a good one, a well-thought-out one, or even a particularly conscious one. With the exception of gifts, though, most of us have to make some decision regarding getting a new item of clothing into our wardrobes: we have to go to the store, select an item, and pay for it. Even if that choice is one of desperation (ever gone swimsuit shopping, or needed a particular type of outfit on very short notice?) or is, in the eyes of society at large, a bad choice, it's a choice. Sometimes, the statement our clothes make is "I can't be bothered about my clothes."

What do you think? Is there a functional difference between getting dressed and putting on clothes, or are they just degrees of choice and concern? Is it possible to put on clothing without putting any thought into it at all, or is some element of decision-making inherently present, lest we inadvertently leave the house without trousers? Thoughtful and polite comments are always welcome!


  1. I often wonder at the thought process behind certain articles of clothing. Especially when it seems as though apathy is the prevelant force behind an outfit or a choice. Many times I look for pieces that excite an emotion in me, so that I will look forward to putting them on in days to come. Yes I have the comfy well-worn options too - and I look forward to putting those on when the occasion arises as well.
    But there are times when I see people wearing a prominent article of clothing that is so prominent and, often, such an unfortunate choice; I wish I knew what the experience was for them in making that purchase.

  2. I was always fascinated by old TV shows where the mom (Donna Reed springs to mind) is wearing a dress, stockings, heels and pearls while mopping the kitchen floor.

    As to your question - getting dressed vs putting on clothes - I think they are degrees of choice and concern.

    I have some clothes that I wear for comfort when I am home alone - they are big, loose and baggy - but I would not be caught dead wearing them in public!

    I know someone that picks out his clothes for the day by doing the "sniff test".
    (yes. eewwww.)


Comments are moderated to reduce spam, so don't worry if they don't show up right away!