Wednesday, July 27, 2022

All dressed up and nowhere to go...

In a surrender—nobody’s sure why—the loser is always more elegant than the victor, to obtain better conditions, maybe, or maybe when you have nothing left you realize that appearances are at least something > Gianfranco Calligarich, Last Summer In the City

This phenomenon was possibly never more apparent than at the end of the American Civil War. That even an Italian should be aware of the overdressing tendencies of losers is possibly significant. I've noticed something similar amongst the obviously guilty at the Juzgado in La Antigua lately. 

This brings me on to a parallel topic. A Quora query-poster recently asked what things to look for that immediately identify us as British tourists? I shared this with my Brazilian friend TC and she had her own substantial, well-observed list, which nevertheless concluded "mostly the Panama hat (the female version being the ill-fitting, oversized, flowers-print summer dress paired with havaianas)."

The funny thing is that these sartorial items are no longer quite the British, middle-class peculiarities they once were. I tend to blame Instagram. Millennials on tour the world over no longer seem to dress for the climate or topography, but for the photo. 

Those ludicrous summer dresses or long, heavy skirts, even the Panama, have become considerably more universal. In the sweltering heat of Cartagena last March I was a little bemused by some of the outfits sported by couples that were either Cololmbian or regional in origin. 

Social media has been engendering far narrower idioms and contexts across our culture and fashion is not immune to this condensation.  

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