Mark Twain said, “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” 

I’m not sure I agree. Lady Godiva is still a subject of history books and conversation, to say nothing about her chocolates. 

Albert Einstein wrote, “If most of us are ashamed of shabby clothes … let us be more ashamed of shabby ideas .... It would be a sad situation if the wrapper were better than the meat wrapped inside it.” 

The wrapper is what we see first.  Many a con man has made a fortune by appearing to be a person of substance. 

Henry David Thoreau wrote, “I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.”

I think Henry was being much more philosophical than just warning us to stay away from fancy weddings.  However, when I am tempted to go shopping for an event, this quote comes to mind.

I have not quoted fashion designers, artists, actors, tailors, models, politicians, news anchors, meteorologists, sales clerks, or even teenagers. My prejudices are clear. 

In order for humans to populate the planet, we had to adapt to various weather conditions. This meant: Skins to keep us warm; White robes to protect us from the scorching sun; Shoes to protect our sensitive feet from stones and ice and hot sand. As civilization progressed, we started to use our necessary clothing and shelter as status symbols. Wives became walking advertisements for their husband’s wealth. Some still are.  

I grew up wearing clothing. It feels normal. It feels comfortable. Nakedness is associated in my mind with vulnerability. This thought brings me to my mother’s philosophy that if everyone were naked, if there were no uniforms, there would be no war. There is a lot of logic there. 

However, I do live in this world, in this country, at this time. Not only do I wear clothing, but also I try to be appropriate for the occasion. Professional work outfits were dominant in my closet at one time.  The office look has given way to simple, clean, comfortable, non-itchy, no iron, no stockings, no high heels, everyday pants and shirts and sometimes jackets or sweaters.  Sneakers are the main stay for my troublesome feet. 

As if I were in an art gallery, I enjoy seeing the fanciful outfits some folks here at our CCRC wear to dinner or parties.  This is not limited to women. I know one man who has a rainbow array of sports jackets in his closet. The orange and turquoise stand out.  Some women continue to make good use of their cocktail dresses and elegant jewelry. Others wear more trendy things. It is all fun.  Life would be very boring if we all liked the same things, if we wore uniforms. 

I feel an obligation to mention, to those who wonder about CCRC living, that there is a reasonable dress code for our dining rooms.   Residents and guests are not to wear shorts, T-shirts with words, flip-flops, bathing suits, etc.  Peer pressure is the only enforcement.

My husband says that if he had to wear a jacket and tie to dinner, we would not have moved here. I like the CC standard for our CCRC – Clean and Covered.

Betty Ago


Betty is a real person who resides in one of our Brookdale entry fee communities. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Brookdale Senior Living.

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