What is the difference between an invitation to come to a picnic and another to come casual? Why is one invitation orderly and reassuring and the other disorderly and disconcerting?Share
A dress code, the unwritten law of modesty and decorum that everyone in a community knows just because he knows it, is a great freedom. It is liberating in the same way that any proper structure is a freedom; taking it for granted, one's attention can move on to something else perhaps more important.
Not only is clothing our first link to manners and morals, hence to civilization, but it is also one of the most reliable and comforting components of order in our lives. Hanging on the same rack in the closet (if not disturbed by pillaging daughters), it remains right where we put it, familiar and all ours. First thing every morning we find the same slippers there beside the bed, conforming to the habit of their owner's feet. The familiar bathrobe, too, reminds us that the world is a friendly place. The clothes, moreover, that we put on for the day in some way govern that day. According to the activity to which they are suited, they structure the day's activities.
Clothes, furthermore, are a sign of respect to others. If one is invited to a picnic, then one is happy to oblige the hosts by showing up in something that fits the mood of the party. On the other hand, just to go casual when one is invited to dinner shortchanges the dignity of the hosts. After all, hospitality is an ancient virtue; it should be honored with a degree of reverence.