Dress like you’re in Newport

The Breakers Mansion-Newport, RI

Today was a beautiful, sunny, warm, dry and lightly breezy day. It was the kind of weather that begs you to get outdoors. By most standards, it was close to perfection. Even by San Diego standards, it was gorgeous…and that’s saying a lot!

I took this as an opportunity to visit Newport, Rhode Island. For those who don’t live in New England, Newport is an affluent coastal town nestled in southern Rhode Island on the Atlantic Ocean. It enjoys a rich history which dates back to the mid-17th century. Arguably its most famous and impressive period was during the Gilded Age, which extended roughly from the the end of the civil war (1865) up to the turn of the century. The Gilded age was marked by opulent and grandiose displays of wealth, and there are few places that showcase this more than Newport. Today, when you visit Newport, you can visit and tour the palatial summer “cottages” built by the world’s richest people 130 years ago to display their wealth and enjoy the finest money had to offer.

But I digress. The point of this article is not to detail and describe Newport. That can be done in another article. Rather, it is to discuss a social issue that has become increasingly more prominent over the last 5 years or so. Being in Newport, however, made me even more aware of it, and so these are my thoughts today.

So let us start with these:

These picture are fairly representative of what you see walking the streets in Newport. It was a warm, summer day, and the fashion reflected that. But as I sat and enjoyed lunch (and people watching) I noticed that the majority of people were dressed well. They looked crisp. They looked squared away. But most importantly, their fashion choices looked intentional, not accidental. And that is my whole point.

Now consider the following pictures:

These two pictures sadly represent what I see as becoming the norm in fashion the past few years. When I’m out in public, whether it’s in a restaurant, in a shopping mall, or even in church, this is now the standard, it seems.

This is very depressing to me.

I know I may draw some fire here, but I feel there is no reason to leave your house without looking your best. That just seems like common sense. That doesn’t mean you need to spend a fortune or hours of your morning, but putting some thought into projecting a strong and positive image is never a bad thing. The standards have abruptly dropped in this county in this category, particularly in the younger generations, and that saddens me. When I see someone going out to eat in sweatpants, a T-shirt and shower flip flops, it makes me wonder if they understand how they’re perceived, not to mention what they must think of themselves.

Whether we like it or not, we are visual creatures. We will be judged on our outward appearance until people get to know us. That is reality. Sweatpants outside the gym or your living room do nothing to help this cause.

This is the whole point of the title of this post. There’s something about Newport that invites its visitors to take a few more seconds to consider their wardrobe choice, and select an outfit intentionally meant to project a positive and specific image. It’s almost as if they’re paying homage to the path forged by the men and women who walked those roads 130 years before during the Gilded Age. They feel the need to live up to and continue the legacy of the city. You can see it, feel it, and it gives the town a boost of energy.

I know there are some reading this who will disagree with me, and that’s OK. We all have our own path. I’d love to hear your opinions in the comments! I’m not suggesting we dress formally at all times, or adhere to an antiquated dress code left over from a bygone era.

I just think we should leave the sweatpants in our gym locker.

-Z

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