The other day I stopped a coffee shop in Kittery on my way home from work. As I was leaving a family was at the counter ordering food. The boy was dressed like Matt Smith-era Doctor from Doctor Who. I caught on immediately but for anybody not familiar with the character would just think the kid was dressed up in a tweed suit with a bow tie. In a way it was a costume but it was still normal clothing. The fact that he was carrying a toy sonic screwdriver should have been a giveaway, though. I didn’t find out why he was dressed like the Doctor. I was on my way out the door and I’m still trying to work my way around interaction with strangers.
One thing that stuck out in my mind, though, was when the boy corrected (what I assumed was) his mother when she said that he was dressed like “Doctor Who.” Clearly the boy was a fan of the show and I got the impression that he chose to dress up like his favorite character. So even if he was going to some sort of event he chose the outfit and looked happy to wear it. Matt Smith’s wardrobe may have been one of the more nerdy Doctor outfits of recent years but it is far more formal than what most people around here wear in public.
It got me thinking. When I was a kid it was always a pain to dress kids up. Then grunge rock hit in the nineties and everybody started looking like slobs. When was the last time you saw kids going around in suits and dresses? I always take the stance that television reflects real life more than the other way around but there is something to the idea of kids imitating their role models. Is it possible that if kids’ heroes on television start dressing up more kids will as well?
I also take the stance that clothing is nothing more than the arrangement of fabric and we possibly take it too seriously. But at the same time whenever I go out on the town I feel like I have to dress up even just a little bit. Then I look around and often feel overdressed. In what could best be described as “business casual” I’m better-dressed than a lot of the people around me. The only people who tend to dress up more than me are wait staff at some restaurants. I know that I live in what is prominently a working-class area but nobody looks like they’re making much of an effort. Just throwing on a dress shirt doesn’t make you dressed-up. You have to learn how to wear it properly, and for fuck’s sake, iron.
As a side note, this seems to work in the reverse. When I dress down in a t-shirt in jeans, such as when I take my motorcycle into town, I look around and feel like those are the nights that everybody else decides to dress better. Are people timing this to make me feel like an outcast or do I feel like that anyway? I like the feeling but I would like some clarification
Most of my role models as a kid were pretty fantastical. So it would be hard for me to go around dressed like He-Man or Optimus Prime. But when bands like Nirvana made it big people took it as a license to not care about their appearance. Again, what are we talking about really other than fabric we drape ourselves with superficially? But as humans we assign certain aspects of dress to what looks better and what doesn’t. Perhaps then we need to have characters such as the Doctor who dress better more often to make kids want to aspire to dress better themselves.
“But Mick,” you’re surely asking, “Isn’t this just a way to stifle somebody’s creativity in terms of their appearance?” In a way, yes. That isn’t knew nor isn’t it already done all the time. But I’m not saying that one should directly copy one’s idols. Perhaps that’s what the kid did with the Doctor but I have to think that should have some influence on his look as he grows up. But that still doesn’t answer the question. Yes, I do think that everybody should have their own look. There are still times, however, when how others perceive your appearance is important. We can debate how moral that is or not but right now that’s the way things are. I can’t predict that they will change soon.
If anything, maybe Norwegian black metal bands will influence kids more instead, and future generations would grow up looking like this:
That would be cool.