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Uniform rant - Journal of Omnifarious

Jan. 11th, 2004

08:56 pm - Uniform rant

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One thing about the parts of the Seattle social scene I've encountered so far... They're big on uniforms. Not your standard army uniforms, or suits, or anything of the sort. No, goth uniforms, or fetish uniforms, or other sorts of gear seem de rigueur.

To me, uniforms are about making someone feel comfortable. Either they're to make the wearer feel comfortable and like (s)he belongs. Or, they're to make the group feel comfortable that everybody has something in common. Required uniforms are definitely about making the group feel comfortable.

It's rather cynically amusing that a fashion statement that arose out of a group of people that felt placed on the outside and excluded from the rest of the world should be so exclusionary themselves. They create their own reality.

I don't have a problem with people who've chosen to dress that way themselves. I do have a problem when those people start to judge and filter who they will deal with on the basis of their appearance rather than their behavior.

This was all prompted by this woman I rather liked running a pizza place who gave me tickets to a nightclub for tomorrow. And the tickets specify that you have to be wearing religious satire or fetish attire. *sigh* I have neither, and I don't intend to get either. If I chose to go, I would dress in something involving lots of leather and chains, then tell people it was actually fetish satire and that I was making fun of all of them, because I would be. It's so stupid and inane that something that was supposed to be about originality and self-expression has become a social scene that discourages both.

*chuckle* I have felt uncomfortable at Convergence, for dress reasons, though that's really all about my comfort, not the comfort of other Convergence attendees. A friend last year told me that I was original for not wearing all black and trying to look like a gothy geek-boy. I think it's funny that I'd be considered original for not dressing into a mold. Though she may have told me that because I was feeling kind of insecure. :-)

Current Mood: [mood icon] annoyed

Comments:

From:rosencrantz319
Date:January 11th, 2004 10:20 pm (UTC)
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From:omnifarious
Date:January 11th, 2004 10:32 pm (UTC)

Re: uniforms are about making someone feel comfortable

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Oh, no, I've never gotten a really strong feeling that I had to wear something to Convergence. I just, every once in awhile, feel a little out-of-place there because of what a lot of people choose to wear. But, I know that that's all about my comfort, and not the comfort of the people at Convergence. I should change what I said a little.

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From:rosencrantz319
Date:January 11th, 2004 10:34 pm (UTC)
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From:omnifarious
Date:January 11th, 2004 10:41 pm (UTC)

Re: uniforms are about making someone feel comfortable

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Yes, it does. Maybe I should wear a cardboard sign declaring myself to be an ordained minister of the church of the SubGenius and a disciple of Bob Dobbs. :-) Perhaps that would count as relgious satire attire. :-)

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From:(Anonymous)
Date:January 14th, 2004 01:59 pm (UTC)
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there are good reasons for dress code at these events. When everyone puts effort in to what they wear out, it validates the work of those who spend a lot of time and energy dressing up in a costume. It is a means of personal expression that can lead to a lot of growth and insight for a person. If the "audience" is just a bunch of guys in jeans and sports caps, there's not a lot of incentive to put in the effort. If everyone has put out some effort, the results are quite different.
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From:omnifarious
Date:January 14th, 2004 02:25 pm (UTC)
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I understand this point of view, but I disagree.

I've been at events where most people put a lot of effort into what they wear because they want to, and a large number (but not most) people don't. Both groups are made to feel welcome, but the people who wear interesting clothing are rewarded with increased attention, awards, and other perks. Some people put in an amazing amount of effort. Some people put in hardly any at all. But, nobody is excluded.

I think that's a much better way to achieve the effect you want.

Now, one thing I can see is the jeans and sports cap type people bringing things down by acting rude, inconsiderate, or gawking. That sort of thing can be dealt with via reminders and ejection for bad behavior.

A club in Minnepolis (Ground Zero) has bondage and go-go night. I know that I could walk in, in my normal clothes, be perfectly OK, and not make anybody feel like they're having a bad evening or are out-of-place. In fact, it's quite likely that I'd be greeted by friends. But, they do have a problem with people who are there to look at the weird people and hit on the scantily clad women just because they're scantily clad.

I find the feeling of dressing up like that to be just as revolting as the feeling of wearing a suit. I've sometimes (on very rare ocassion) worn a suit to make others comfortable so I could get a job. But, when I go out in the evening, I shouldn't have to wear a suit, or any other costume in order to be accepted. It should be fun, and unconstrained.

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From:(Anonymous)
Date:January 16th, 2004 11:02 am (UTC)
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I think that you get part of the point and miss part of the point. When I engaged in costuming as a means of growth it was very intense and almost always very sexual. So a room full of ball cap sweats wearing boys was not at all conducive to daring myself further the next week. Sure you can eject some of them-- I have. But the growth opportunity is thwarted by that. More often I interact and let them know what works for me, how their behaviour makes me feel. I have seen the growth in emotional relationships and style and sexual awareness of many men as well as women in my time going out. The minimum required is to merely wear black. Just black. Just be unobtrusive, if you can't go so far as to put in effort to create an ambiance. why is that so much to ask? well, it's not. If you don't have something to gain from the ambiance, go somewhere else. If fun and unconstrained is more important to you, boycott places that require a dress code. works for me. you may miss out on what I like, but at least you don't detract from my experience.

Currently I more often wear something innocuous and don't dress up. But somehow just wearing something other than my work clothes isn't too much of a chore, and despite being not-dressed-up I still manage to look fine. perhaps that is because I am a fetishist at heart, or maybe I just get by on my natural beauty.

Also, for me, going out was about dancing. I would learn about people over long periods of time by how they move, where they choose to be, how they speak briefly when we are getting water at the same time, and how they interact dancing with me and sharing space from a few feet away. In time, I developed a connection with these people. If I was interested, I could exhange email and we'd have a purely verbal intellectual interaction. It's a slow way to "meet" people but I found it very gratifying, and very animal. If men are looking to pick someone up, a coffeehouse may be better.
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From:omnifarious
Date:January 16th, 2004 11:45 am (UTC)
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I really like your writing voice, and I hope you comment in my journal at some other time, even if it's to disagree with me. :-) I really like being challenged.

I actually learn a lot about people by how they move and interact with those around them. I find dance clubs to be fascinating people watching. I tend not to dance myself because I feel awkward doing so.

I am not hopelessly physically uncoordinated, but I have no practice in dancing, and I feel very awkward on a dance floor. I would learn best by learning something structured first. After that, I could improvise. The small Samba lesson someone gave me a few weeks back was fun. :-)

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From:omnifarious
Date:January 16th, 2004 11:51 am (UTC)
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I'm going to have to think about the other things you said.

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From:stonemonkey
Date:February 3rd, 2004 12:04 pm (UTC)

General Dress Up

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Is the subject a pun? Who knows....

First, congratulations on moving out of this winter wonderland...

I almost entirely agree with everything you are saying. I have always felt like an outsider because I never really walked the walk in some of my social circles. Talking the talk is not quite enough for some percentage of people. It's like those ads in the back of city pages looking for a bassist, 'Hair is a must'.

Still, as much as I hate being snubbed because I am not in the "correct" attire, I do understand it. For two reasons:

1. The jeans and t-shirt mentality. The dressing down of society. Basically, a mass-produced pop culture has boiled everything down to jeans and a t-shirt. Dressing different shows you care (I guess I am mostly a hypocrit on this). If someone sees you are not willing to express this point in the way you dress...Can you really blame them?

2. El Farol Bar model (see http://bruce.edmonds.name/emhet/emhet_4.html ). People come up with a preferred set of criteria for finding friends. They basically apply less or more criteria depending achieving some appropriate value. If these people are down to clothing selection, then they are already saturated or at least insane (as far as I can tell). The model part comes when you think about a subculture as a whole. If they let to many people in (those not dressing right), then it may no longer be a sub-culture. If you don't let in enough then you end up being a single booth in Embers at 3am. So a group of people all using arbitrary methods of friend-finding will yield the right-size sub-culture they want. On second thought, scratch this point, I am the one who is insane....

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