Monday, February 8, 2010

One of the Greatest Tragedies of the Modern Era

First off, a random bit of trivia. French high school students love Taylor Swift. Or maybe just the ones living in the rural areas of southern France. I suppose it makes sense, you can generally tell how popular country music is going to be by the number of farm animals in the region.

Anyway, I was teaching my students here about the differences in the American high school system and that of the French. One of the major differences is the whole 'clique' system we have in the U.S. You know, the whole 'nerd' 'jock' 'preppy' 'emo' division of students into like-minded groups, as seen in the hard hitting documentary from the early 90's, "Saved by the Bell".
Dustin Diamond portraying the gritty realism of the 'nerd'.

A "Jock" displaying his plumage
A "Preppy". Not pictured: Ginormous Cellphone

They simply don't do that here, and the whole concept was hard for them to wrap their minds around. You'd think after a history of being divided into nobility, clergy, and peasants, they would not have forgotten the idea of social hierarchy so quickly, but I guess that just goes to show the Revolution was pretty thorough at stamping out obvious caste systems (though they still exist, look at the ENA).

To illustrate this almost cliche idea of 'cliques' I showed them a music video, "You Belong With Me" by Taylor Swift. Its the all-too-familiar story of the impossible love between a nerd and a jock. As an aside, I love these movies/stories where the 'nerdy' girl is in reality incredibly beautiful, but no one can see it because she has glasses and frumpy clothes. (They satire this in "Not Another Teen Movie"). Not recognizing that a girl like Taylor Swift is beautiful until she gets dolled up for the Homecoming Dance is like not recognizing Clark Kent is Superman because he's wearing glasses. It's just really funny and it shows up in pretty much every teen movie ever made.

Returning to our sheep, as they say in French, after the lesson some of the students were asking about other Taylor Swift songs. That having been the only one I'd ever seen, I did some youtubing and discovered "Love Story".

Just to reaffirm my manhood, (which is already in jeapordy because I'm blogging about Taylor Swift today), this was strictly work-related research and I did not enjoy the song overly much.

That having been said...I'm going to go out on a limb and ask :"Why in the world don't we dress like that anymore??"

There's no denying that the girls look beautiful in old style dresses like that. I mean, that's half the fun of prom for them is getting to feel like a princess and dress up in something elegant. And hey, I can understand that it's probably not incredibly comfortable. Maybe they prefer function over fashion now. That's fine.

But men, why on earth did we abandon the cravat and wescoat? Is it that much less comfortable than the business suits, ties and white button up shirts we wear now? Are we just too scared to wear a bit of lace around the sleeves or collar? Because that style is undeniably chic.

How cool would it be to walk around and all the men are dressed like they walked out of a Dumas novel, or even Jane Austen? Maybe we'd all even get to wear rapiers on our sides and duel each other for perceived slights on our honor! Okay, maybe that'd be a little much...but a guy can dream, can't he?

Instead somehow we've gone from this:

to this:
And that, dear friends, is one of the greatest tragedies of the modern era.

Come on, men. Let's bring it back! Let's man up and put a little lace on the cuff. Remember Sir Percy Blackeney's immortal words "La! But someone has to strike a pose and bear the weight of well tailored clothes, and that is why the Lord created Man!"

PS: Finding images of the guy's wardrobe from that video online is fairly impossible. Turns out Taylor Swift is the star of that show. So to get a better idea of what I'm talking about, check out the video. After rewatching it I'm wondering why we don't dance like that anymore either? Sure beats 'bumpin' and grindin' at the club as the girls have a good time shaking their hips while various guys compete to rub their crotches on them in a dark, overly crowded room.

P.P.S: I just realized another of the great tragedies of the modern era. Saved by the Bell is no longer on the air five times a day.


  1. oh my goodness. This post made me laugh. I loved your comment you left on MBP's blog! My friends and I had a pride and prejudice party in high school. We learned all the dances, and dressed up, it was really neat! although i'm glad we don't have to wear corsets anymore!

  2. I really should stop commenting there, it only encourages them. I just can't believe they have so many girls cheering them on. I would be so on board with a Pride and Prejudice party (of course, I'm lucky in that corsets aren't part of the equation for me).

    I do have issue with some things in Pride and Prejudice that I'll probably blog about later, but certainly not their style and dance moves!

  3. My friend got married in a cravat kind of thing with a morning coat (or something. He told me what it was, but I forgot.)
    It was so cool looking. And I know I don't know you, but corsets would make my boobs like awesome. I'd be okay with them. And now we can go back to non-awkward talk.

  4. Awesome looking boobs is pretty much the whole point of corsets :P

    But seriously though, I could totally dig making the whole wedding party dress up in period costumes like that. That would be very cool. I'll leave it at that before this devolves into me fantasizing about my wedding day like a 14 year old girl.

  5. Man, I'm with you. The Victorian age of dressing (that's accurate, right?) is outstanding. All the demure femininity of long dresses and covered skin, yet all the scandal of corset cleavage. And the men had it made in regards to garmentry. Yes, it was uncomfortable, but so are ties, so get over it. High collars are making a comeback in some fashions, though, so maybe it's just a step or two until we get to cravates...?