October 17, 2015

How should you dress to go to the theater?

Point: "For the love of God, stop dressing like crap."
[T]he slobs who turn up at Broadway shows [are] dressed as though they’d just walked in from a tailgating party — one with a three-figure admission price, mind you. When people were invited onstage at a recent performance of “Penn & Teller on Broadway,” many women looked as if they had stepped out of a jazzercise class, while men ambled around in hideous cargo shorts....
Counterpoint: "Wear Whatever The Hell You Want To The Theater":
Theater today is ridiculously inaccessible as it is, and to tell people they have to dress a certain way to participate is unfair.... There are many ways in which the industry is trying to become more accessible to younger people, those who have had little exposure to theater and people with less disposable income.... Theater is changing. Playbills often include hashtags. People wait in line to take selfies with actors post-show, rather than get their autographs, and all of that is great! As time hurtles forward, our traditions change. Not every tradition is worth holding onto.... Finally, I would venture to guess that professional actors do not care what the audience wears. They're picturing you naked, anyway! But seriously, they can't see you; the lights are too bright.
Well, that counterpoint was a jumble of discontinuities. I'll just say 4 things:

1. Traditions change, of course. Tradition is what we've kept as we've left some things behind. The question is what do we want to leave behind.

2. In some theaters, the actors can see you. We frequently see plays at The Touchstone Theater, where the front row of seats is on the same level of the stage and curves around 3 edges of the stage. The people in these seats are full-body visible to the actors and to the rest of the audience. What possesses the minds of theatergoers to choose front row seats and then to arrive in blazing white sneakers and other conspicuously over-casual duds? If I knew I was in the front row, I'd take care to wear dark and respectful clothing. I feel sorry for the actors, who, I think, need to be able to believe that the audience members have the minimal sense needed to understand the play.

3. Don't blame the young and the poor for the sloppy playclothes in the audience. I see mostly older, affluent people in the theater, and they are not bothering with the minimal level of appropriate clothing.

4. A minimal level of appropriate clothing is really all that is appropriate. You should be comfortable sitting still for 2 hours and you shouldn't be distracting. Something simple, inconspicuous and dark. That's not expensive and burdensome. Playing the class card is disingenuous.

82 comments:

David Begley said...

Just don't wear shorts.

MisterBuddwing said...

I've reached a point in my life where "business casual" attire seems appropriate for most formal/semi-formal occasions. It would have to be a super-serious occasion, like a wedding or a funeral, to get me to put on a tie.

Michael K said...

When I went to Vienna about 20 years ago, I packed a tuxedo to go to the Staatsoper an opera in a famous setting. We were the only people dressed formally in the theater. Most were in blue jeans.

Ann Althouse said...

I'm not opposed to blue jeans in the theater, but they should be dark and the shoes should be dark and closed (unless you're a woman in nice sandals). I'm especially opposed to light colored sneakers and men in sandals (though I wouldn't mind seeing a man in sandals if they were dark and he also had on dark socks (just don't make me notice your feet, especially in the front row!)).

Dark jeans with dark, closed shoes on a man who is also wearing a buttoned colored shirt or a jacket are just fine. I'm not saying get all dressed up. That would look wrong too, at the theater we go to, which requires a walk up a somewhat long gravel path through restored prairie from the parking lot. That says: Wear good walking shoes. And if you're in New York City, you probably have to walk too. A tourist going to a Broadway show is probably also doing some walking before and after the show. I'd dress for the whole context.

rhhardin said...

"You're not going out dressed like that, are you?"

Michael K said...

My point was not contempt for blue jeans but the fact that we were the only people I saw in formal dress in that famous theater. I go to opera all the time in California and wear a tie and coat, not blue jeans and see very few people dressed that way.

I suspect that Europe is getting even more casual.

William said...

I used to see off Broadway shows. The fourth wall was almost non existent in some of those theaters. It was closer to a class room than a theater. The bad news was that you felt compelled to sit up and pay attention, but more out of politeness than interest. Can you imagine hanging on to every word of a Beckett soliloquy. You were part of the performance, pretending to be an appreciative audience member. Every so often, some of the girls had a scene where they performed in their skivvies. That helped, but even that was sometimes more embarrassing than prurient. High definition television is the best way to experience art.

rhhardin said...

You could go playing an instensitive dresser.

Ann Althouse said...

"a buttoned colored shirt "

Should read: a buttoned collared shirt

A colored shirt is fine. But if you have to ask what color, pick something that's least likely to be thought of as a color, like gray or gray-blue or gray-green.

rehajm said...

That's not expensive and burdensome. Playing the class card is disingenuous.

In my poor student days my friends and I always managed to dress up a to attend a live performance. It would have never occurred to us living in a public park and shitting in a bucket was any kind of statement we wanted to make. Times change.

Scott said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ann Althouse said...

"My point was not contempt for blue jeans but the fact that we were the only people I saw in formal dress in that famous theater. I go to opera all the time in California and wear a tie and coat, not blue jeans and see very few people dressed that way."

I know. I think putting on actual formal wear is really taking a risk. I can't imagine doing that without checking to make sure that's really what's going on somewhere. Why not just a business suit? That's controlling the risk.

A man can go almost anywhere in a business suit and get away with it. It's a little harder for a woman, but (except when it's hot out) you can go almost anywhere in a simple black dress with black tights and closed black shoes.

Scott said...

A ticket for the Saturday matinee of Disney's The Lion King on Broadway, in the back row of the Mezzanine, costs $135.

One ticket.

Yes, we can pay homage to the religious historical context and cultural conventions of the Theatre by dressing up. But if you are going to a Disney attraction that grosses $2 million per week in one theater, the management couldn't care less how you dress. Lucre soothes umbrage pretty well.

Ann Althouse said...

If you go to the opera at the Staatsoper in Vienna, isn't it full of tourists?

MisterBuddwing said...

The one time I nearly made it onto a jury (in a criminal case), I was peremptorily challenged, which meant, of course, I had no idea why I was thrown off.

Was it my serious demeanor? My tie and jacket? My "Kill Them All, Let God Sort Them Out" button?

All seriousness aside, I showed up in a tie and jacket because, at the orientation, they'd told us to "dress comfortably." Well, when I'm in a court of law, I feel comfortable in a tie and jacket.

Did I overdress? I later learned that defense attorneys tend to be leery of a potential juror who would show up in a tie and jacket because, the conventional wisdom holds, such a person would supposedly tend to be culturally conservative, and therefore, more likely to side with the prosecution.

Really?

Ann Althouse said...

"Yes, we can pay homage to the religious historical context and cultural conventions of the Theatre by dressing up. But if you are going to a Disney attraction that grosses $2 million per week in one theater, the management couldn't care less how you dress. Lucre soothes umbrage pretty well."

1. I'm not talking about how the management feels. I'm talking about respect for the actors and the others in the audience.

2. I'm not talking about "dressing up." You can meet my standard in comfortable long pants, a normal shirt, and comfortable dark walking shoes.

3. If you're going to a Disney musical, maybe you think it's more like going to a theme park, but "Lion King" was staged as a pretty seriously arty affair, and I think it would be better to be a respectful role model for the children in the audience. Really, why spend that kind of money if you just think it's a fun kid's show? You can play the DVD of the cartoon movie at home and watch in your pajamas.

PB said...

Just as I enjoy minor league baseball over major league baseball, I enjoy local theater over the big-time plays and musicals. Less cost, less hassle, more fun. And, you often get to meet the players/performers afterward.

wildswan said...

I worked with a student who wore a shirt and tie on Halloween which was "the most frightening costume I know", he told me.

Fritz said...

Guilty as charged. The only time I ever visited New York for tourist purposes, I dressed exactly the same as I would at home, jeans and a T-shirt (or maybe a long sleeved shirt if it was colder), and we took in two Broadway plays, Wicked and Rock of Ages. I was certainly in the lower quintile of clothes at Wicked, but fit right in at Rock of Ages.

If the people in New York have any customs at all, I want to wreck them.

Laslo Spatula said...

All I know is that if I were one of the actors on stage I wouldn't mind looking out into the audience and seeing a Hot Chick wearing a Catholic Schoolgirl Skirt with long white socks and a white shirt open two to three buttons at the neck.

Her friend in the adjoining seat can be dressed as a Japanese Schoolgirl.

I am Laslo.

.

Ann Althouse said...

"I used to see off Broadway shows. The fourth wall was almost non existent in some of those theaters. It was closer to a class room than a theater. The bad news was that you felt compelled to sit up and pay attention, but more out of politeness than interest. Can you imagine hanging on to every word of a Beckett soliloquy. You were part of the performance, pretending to be an appreciative audience member. Every so often, some of the girls had a scene where they performed in their skivvies. That helped, but even that was sometimes more embarrassing than prurient. High definition television is the best way to experience art."

Remember, you don't have to choose the front-row seats. It's not like the first row (and the second and third rows) are the last seats to sell. If you don't like the feeling of being seen by the actor and want more freedom, choose the back rows. Back bench (like a law student). I'd prefer not to be in the front row in this type of theater, but if I were in the front row, I'd sure as hell wear dark, inconspicuous clothes and shoes and sit still.

I once went to one of these rock venues where you sat at tables — The Bottom Line in the Village — and had the table right up against the stage, completely in the light at the foot of the performer. I thought this would be great for the performer I came to see. I forget who it was, something in the folk rock genre, definitely rock. The opening act was a well-known traditional folk singer, somebody you were supposed to respect and who was used to respect. Close up, he seemed so absurdly vain in his seriousness about folk music that I nearly died trying not to laugh. It was the most intensely funny-but-you-can't-laugh experience of my life.

Scott said...

"Really, why spend that kind of money if you just think it's a fun kid's show?"

You pay that kind of money for the adults and the kids because it's the big family trip to New York City and you have to do these kind of things. Next year it's Fort Lauderdale.

And yes, it's a fun kids show. It's total eye and ear candy, it fills your senses. Julie Taymor pulled it off brilliantly. It's evident she wasn't shooting for cerebral. This is not Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy nattering over a game of cards. This is a Disney attraction engineered and adjusted through multiple tryouts in different cities before it came to Broadway. And it's staged to make lots and lots of money for DIS stockholders. And it does.

Okay, to be fair, there are lots of different theater experiences staged for lots of different reasons. And if you're part of a shared experience, it would probably be a good idea to conform to the expectations of the group. As African Americans say, "Come correct."

But geez. The NYP article's author was a New Yorker venting about those uncouth and inconvenient tourists; and the HuffPo responded because it was in the NYP. It's just controversialism.

Laslo Spatula said...

At Strip Clubs I prefer the 'Hot Chick wearing a Catholic Schoolgirl Skirt with long white socks and a white shirt open two to three buttons at the neck' to be on the stage.

Also: the Japanese Schoolgirl.

They are Bad, bad Girls.

I am Laslo.

Ann Althouse said...

"Guilty as charged. The only time I ever visited New York for tourist purposes, I dressed exactly the same as I would at home, jeans and a T-shirt (or maybe a long sleeved shirt if it was colder), and we took in two Broadway plays, Wicked and Rock of Ages. I was certainly in the lower quintile of clothes at Wicked, but fit right in at Rock of Ages. If the people in New York have any customs at all, I want to wreck them."

1. It doesn't sound like you violated my standard, but you didn't say what you had on your feet.

2. I don't think the "people of New York" are what you find in the audience of "Rock of Ages" (or even, mostly, "Wicked"). These are tourist attractions, and New Yorkers tend to avoid the Broadway area, as far as I know.

Gahrie said...

A minimal level of appropriate clothing is really all that is appropriate

Duh. The problem is who gets to decide what is appropriate? Bring back sumptuary laws!

I feel sorry for the actors, who, I think, need to be able to believe that the audience members have the minimal sense needed to understand the play.

I see. how about we let the actors screen those who are allowed to view their play, and then they can perform to audiences in the dozens who will "properly" appreciate their art. Of course they'll have to take a pay cut, but hey....suffering for your art is a tradition.

Or they could simply shut up and act.

Gahrie said...

I suspect that Europe is getting even more casual

How do you think most patrons of The Globe theater were dressed when they went to see Shakespeare's plays?

Hell in Shakespeare's time it was common to heckle the actors and throw food at the stage.

If Europe is "getting more casual" then they are returning to traditional norms.

JCC said...

I was pretty surprised when I stumbled across this site, photos of opera-goers (is that a word?) at the Met.

http://lastnightatthemet.com

It's not cargo shorts and flip-flops, but it is something like clown suits in many cases. An acquaintance, in the orchestra, says, in his opinion, most are there to be seen, not to enjoy the art. Halloween, all year long.

By the way, do any straight couples stil go to the opera?

On the few occasions I was able to tolerate NYC, we have enjoyed Broadway shows. Sports coat, dark shirt and pants, no tie. It was always winter.

Ann Althouse said...

"You pay that kind of money for the adults and the kids because it's the big family trip to New York City and you have to do these kind of things. Next year it's Fort Lauderdale."

Actually, you don't have to do these kind of things. I don't believe it's very good for children. Why not go camping and hiking in the woods near home? Go to state parks, places that are more human scale, where a kid can learn to think for himself and experience freedom.

"And yes, it's a fun kids show. It's total eye and ear candy, it fills your senses. Julie Taymor pulled it off brilliantly. It's evident she wasn't shooting for cerebral."

My opinion is based on this podcast interview with Julie Taymor (by Alec Baldwin). Also, I saw the show (when I was living in Brooklyn and visited by relatives including a child).

"This is not Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy nattering over a game of cards."

I consider "The Gin Game" to be more tourist-y and less arty than "The Lion King."

"This is a Disney attraction engineered and adjusted through multiple tryouts in different cities before it came to Broadway. And it's staged to make lots and lots of money for DIS stockholders. And it does."

If I disrespected the show that much, I'd avoid it. Why pay for it if that's your attitude? Because you must do it for the children? I challenge that assertion. I think the show is too big, overwhelming, noisy, and confining to be much if any good for a child.

"Okay, to be fair, there are lots of different theater experiences staged for lots of different reasons. And if you're part of a shared experience, it would probably be a good idea to conform to the expectations of the group. As African Americans say, "Come correct." But geez. The NYP article's author was a New Yorker venting about those uncouth and inconvenient tourists; and the HuffPo responded because it was in the NYP. It's just controversialism."

I agree that the New York Post author was writing in a trashy style (about dressing in a trashy style). Part of being a New Yorker is bitching about other people being in New York the wrong way. That's a tradition.

EMD said...

Dress up, assholes. It's not that hard.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Suit and tie? No way! A nice dress guyabera shirt should do. If that doesn't pass muster, I'll go in a thawb and ghutrah.

Scott said...

"Actually, you don't have to do these kind of things. I don't believe it's very good for children."

Two different things -- what parents feel they have to do in the twin lifetime pursuits of self-actualization and social obligation; and what you think is good for children.

There is lots of stuff parents feel they have to do that I don't understand; and perhaps they can't articulate. For some, New York City is something you do once in your life, as a Muslim regards Mecca. If you're married with children, you share the experience. Then you can look back and say you've done it, and your kids did that too. Check that box off the list. (For my Dad, that checkbox was labeled, "Take the kids to Washington D.C." and I'm very happy he checked it off.) As for how you think children should be raised, I have no opinion.

"If I disrespected the show that much, I'd avoid it." Disrespected? Really? How? I think making money is great, and I think doing it by making art is wonderful if you can get away with it. It's a very high value added enterprise, making piles of cash from words and images and sounds arranged in particular ways. I totally respect the show.

When Taymor was doing the first tryouts in Minneapolis, she was tweaking and changing it to engineer the best response from the audience. That's what Disney hired her to do. They expected nothing less. Is The Lion King high art? It's art, but the tree line where high art begins is where the money ends. She can do her high art in repertory theatres with limited runs funded by foundations and their big corporate sponsors. For her, The Lion King is in the rearview mirror. She can say what she wants about the machine that Disney let her build, but the essence of that machine is more fiscal than artistic.

Laslo Spatula said...

"You should be comfortable sitting still for 2 hours and you shouldn't be distracting. Something simple, inconspicuous and dark."

This also applies when you are in the Van, waiting for Opportunity to strike.

I am Laslo.

Roughcoat said...

Speaking of Julie Taymor, I loved her movie version of "Titus Andronicus," with Anthony Hopkins in the title role. It's one of Shakespeare's craziest over-the-top plays, and no coincidence that, since it was his first tragedy. He wrote it when he was young, at the start of his career, and it bears all the excesses (insane violence and whacked-out characters and humor) and virtues (brio and verve) of a young genius writer experimenting with his talent. Taymor's interpretation is brilliant, an underrated gem.

As for the way Europeans dress: I noticed a change in the way they dresses somewhere around the mid-80s. It used to be you could tell who was an American and who was local by the way they dressed, the differences were glaringly obvious. Then, almost overnight, Europeans began dressing like ... Americans. It started in Germany, I think. Suddenly it became hard to tell the Germans from the Americans. The Germans began wearing polo shirts, bluejeans, and ... baseball hats! Now people in Europe commonly wear baseball hats.

Sebastian said...

"I'll just say 4 things"

Just 4?? Slow morning, I feared. But then the comments on comments put my mind at ease. All's well in Madison, WI, I see.

But when the public is instructed to accept Bruce Jenner-with-penis as female, why not wear shorts to the theater? When the public is instructed that a practice unfathomable to its framers is required by the 14th Amendment, why not show one's feet? When the public is instructed to accept a serial harasser as a major public figure and forgive his wife's transgressions that would land others in prison, why not wear a loud shirt? What difference, at this point, does it make?

Ann Althouse said...

"Just 4?? Slow morning, I feared. But then the comments on comments put my mind at ease. All's well in Madison, WI, I see."

I was up at 4:40 a.m. and it didn't get light until after 7. It was something like 25° out, the first freeze. The UW band started its practice, audible from our house even with all the windows shut. Meade was still asleep. What could I do?!

Ann Althouse said...

It's almost 11 now. I do need an intermission.

Scott said...

Hakuna matata, baby! (That's Swahili for "high art.")

Wilbur said...

My eye was caught by something else: I do not comprehend why someone would want their picture taken with or an autograph from anyone, let alone stand in line to do so.

If I was so moved by an entertainer's performance that I felt compelled to communicate this personally, I guess I'd stand in line to tell them. Hasn't happened yet.

I have enjoyed the theater and opera on occasion, but have never thought any entertainer (or athlete or politician or celebrity) was anyone necessarily so special or interesting that I needed to intrude into their life.

Boxty said...

Every decent nightclub has a no jeans, no t-shirt, no sneakers policy. I don't know why theaters can't impose one.

jr565 said...

isnt telling poeple to dress a certain way the equivalent of slut shaming? Maybe we can call it slob shaming? HOW DARE YOU JUDGE HOW PEOPLE DRESS IN THEATERS!
IF I want to come in to the tehater wearing buttless chaps you should accept my choice and not judge.

Michael said...

There is such a thing as respect - for people, for institutions, and for traditions. There are theaters and theaters. Broadway is different from community theater is different from improv. But showing up looking like you came from the gym or the beach is something that should be shamed. People go to a lot of trouble to put on shows. You could at least wear some appropriate clothes. It's not about money; it's about taste and respect. A society that doesn't think these things are important is a society in the process of decay. And don't get me started on what people wear to church.

rcocean said...

I'm outraged that people aren't appreciating the seriousness of "Penn & Teller on Broadway”

Given cultural significance, I believe a white tie and tails should be required. I mean what what do people think this is, a Comedy act?

Michael K said...

"If you go to the opera at the Staatsoper in Vienna, isn't it full of tourists?"

I couldn't tell. We had a box and were looking down. If there were tourists, they were dressed the same as the locals.

The opera was Boris Godunov, not one of my favorites but it was what was playing that week.

It was in the fall, about now, and not peak tourist season. I was there for a medical meeting but we did the tourist thing. Went to the grave of Baroness Mary Vetoer and the location of Mayerling incident The hunting lodge was demolished and a convent built but that is now gone.

Went to some Huerigen in Grinzing. The wine is still fermenting in some cases. It is bubbling and "storming" with lots of yeasty taste.

I hired a car and driver for a few days which is a great way to see more, I would never have found Mayerling on my own. We did the same thing in Rome and it was like having an extra week.

Nice trip. Never took formal clothes again on a trip.

rcocean said...

"By the way, do any straight couples still go to the opera?"

We go when its something good like Beethoven, Pucini or Strauss. We try to be inconspicuous though.

Beldar said...

There are different rules for different art forms & settings: There are different expectations at the symphony or the ballet than there are at Ice Capades or a high school production of "Oklahoma!"

There are different rules if it's a matinee. (Almost anything goes then.)

Geography, season, climate & weather all matter -- and Prof. Althouse's fashion sense notwithstanding, shorts can be perfectly appropriate in public for both men and women of all ages in Houston in July.

Michael K said...

""By the way, do any straight couples still go to the opera?"

We go to the opera with a group that uses a bus and there are very few of us under 60. The young people are usually studying opera at Chapman cCollege which has a nice program. The Orange County opera went under in 2008 when the money dried up. The LA Opera is too far unless something is really good. A couple of weeks ago we saw two one act operas. "Pagliaci" and "Gianni Schicchi."

They were worth the trip. The gay couples must be going to other events. I haven't even seen anyone who looked gay at the LA Opera and that is saying something. Maybe you have different experiences or are just being snarky.

Freeman Hunt said...

Something simple, inconspicuous and dark.

I agree. That always works, and everyone owns (or could own) something like that.

Scott said...

"Every decent nightclub has a no jeans, no t-shirt, no sneakers policy. I don't know why theaters can't impose one."

Theaters aren't trying to keep gang bangers out.

Ann Althouse said...

"Geography, season, climate & weather all matter -- and Prof. Althouse's fashion sense notwithstanding, shorts can be perfectly appropriate in public for both men and women of all ages in Houston in July."

What temperature is the inside of a theater in Houston in July. I bet it's too chilly for shorts. The idea that someone who will have a stranger sitting next to him for hours would choose to wear shorts! It's just plain rude. It's even worse on an airplane. You should not be imposing your naked flesh on other people so blithely, so needlessly. These places are air-conditioned. It is not a matter of needing to keep cool at all. And I bet you drive in an air-conditioned car getting there. Do you go with your wife or girlfriend, to the theater, and sit there in shorts next to her? Why do you think that's okay? It's just mystifying to me. You're citing the weather, but you are doing something indoors. Do you hoist an umbrella over you when it rains as well? Utter foolery.

Ann Althouse said...

"Every decent nightclub has a no jeans, no t-shirt, no sneakers policy. I don't know why theaters can't impose one."

At the theater, people have tickets they've already bought. You can't very well confront them with rules. It's social pressure that has to do the work here. It's a matter of etiquette and respect for others (which are interrelated matters). I get a lot of flak for telling the truth about this, so I'm sure the pushback women see me getting makes them think again about saying to their man that he can't go to the theater in shorts or in sneakers or sandals, but that's what's needed. Simple, low-key communication.

Megaera said...

My husband and I used to go to local symphony and opera productions (and some specialty imports, which in the flash days of the oil boom could be pretty special -- Kiri Te Kanawa, Isaac Stern, the Cleveland Symphony -- and we always "dressed" for them, which meant at least suit/tie for him, and for me as dressy as I chose to get without getting silly about it, which seemed to be appropriate up til about the end of the 90s. It was then that we started going up to Chicago for excursions, special Lyric Opera performances, maybe in the summer take in some Cubs games and Festival performances, but I remember our first opera, we thought, well surely they still dress up in Chicago, and he packed a tux and I went long dress ... Oh my. We giggled about it all the way back to the hotel afterward. There were still a few stalwart females, Ancient of Days but Upholders of Standards Bigod kitted out like I was lurking about in the lobby, but Himself rolled up to me looking confused and demanding to know why everyone was asking HIM, a total stranger to town, Where Things Were? Took only a few seconds to realize that the only other men wearing tuxes were the ushers... He hasn't worn his tux since. Which is a pity, it looked damn good on him.

Achilles said...

"Every decent nightclub has a no jeans, no t-shirt, no sneakers policy. I don't know why theaters can't impose one."

Nightclubs don't have problems finding customers. Theaters do.


Achilles said...

Ann Althouse said...

"What temperature is the inside of a theater in Houston in July. I bet it's too chilly for shorts. The idea that someone who will have a stranger sitting next to him for hours would choose to wear shorts! It's just plain rude. It's even worse on an airplane. You should not be imposing your naked flesh on other people so blithely, so needlessly. These places are air-conditioned. It is not a matter of needing to keep cool at all. And I bet you drive in an air-conditioned car getting there. Do you go with your wife or girlfriend, to the theater, and sit there in shorts next to her? Why do you think that's okay? It's just mystifying to me. You're citing the weather, but you are doing something indoors. Do you hoist an umbrella over you when it rains as well? Utter foolery."

On one note it appears someone may be competing with me on maxing out the introvert scale.

As to that "air conditioning" I don't think you understand the difference between your standard middle age female metabolism and the metabolism of a moderately physically active male metabolism. You might open your perceptions a bit and look across the bed. Notice how Meade has fewer blankets than you to sleep?(I am assuming he is at least moderately physically active) When I am gone my wife has a heater she turns on in the room to replace the heat I usually generate. Airplanes are a god damn nightmare. There is no way I am wearing more than athletic shorts and flip flops. There isn't enough deoderant in the world to save a plane that has me in pants and a full sleave shirt on a plane.

I am more than moderately physically active. If it gets below freezing then I will dig out some pants. I have worn pants when forced to by a job. My socks soak through with the sweat than runs down my legs. Army uniforms are specially made with very large seam vents that you can open.

In summation. Men, especially men that are in good physical condition, are different than women.

Michael K said...

I also object to airplane passengers in shirts and flip flops. I see them on 11 hour flights to Europe and back.

JCC said...

When I clicked on the link in the OP to read the story "Stop Dressing Like Crap', I noticed that in the sidebar, the NY Post had another article entitled "Former Porn Star Attacked by Raccoon on Fire Island". There were photos of a placid looking raccoon (with the caption 'Not the same raccoon') and a rather batty looking blonde woman. Among the comments: "The actress is receiving a series of rabies shots. No word yet on what has shown up in the raccoon." Neither did the article mention the usual dress norms for former porns stars or Fire Island. Presumably, though, from looking at the article's accompanying photo, neither would disqualify one for admittance to a Broadway show these days. The people waiting for admission are frankly, slobs.

sinz52 said...

I'm a customer. The theater is delivering a service: Entertainment, for which I'm paying a hefty price.

I can wear whatever I please. I don't have to show the theater respect. They have to show me respect. Or else I'll take my business elsewhere.

Megaera said...

Michael K: perhaps we should form a union? Picket for minimum standards of decency/formality in public dress and manners? Agitate for sumptuary laws? I think my husband might be up for it, especially if he thought it might vex the Millennials.

Megaera said...

If we worked on him we might even get rh("You're not going out dressed like THAT, are you?")hardin in on the game too, you know, and who knows where it might end?

Achilles said...

Megaera said...
"Michael K: perhaps we should form a union? Picket for minimum standards of decency/formality in public dress and manners? Agitate for sumptuary laws? I think my husband might be up for it, especially if he thought it might vex the Millennials."

I hope you are joking and it is not just millenials.

Achilles said...

Michael K said...
"I also object to airplane passengers in shirts and flip flops. I see them on 11 hour flights to Europe and back."

I object to fat people on airplanes.

Michael K said...

" I don't have to show the theater respect. They have to show me respect. Or else I'll take my business elsewhere."

promises, promises.

We have a new small movie chain called Cinepolis which has reserved seats well separated. They serve wine and small meals during the movie with waiters. I may never go to another theater,

Wilbur said...

"Utter foolery."

And we'll have no more rowdy-dow here. Understood? No more.

Beldar said...

Prof. A: Shall I also wear a veil -- perhaps go full burqa -- to avoid exposing my naked flesh in the theater? The reason my elbows may be shown naked, but my knees may not without offending some universal standard of taste and decency, is ... what, exactly? This seems quite an arbitrary pronouncement.

I respectfully submit that you're wrong about something empirical here -- how hot it gets in Houston and how often, despite our air conditioning, one is exposed to it in daily life (which may occasionally include a theater trip, one hopes). I speak as one who has not only himself worn shorts in air conditioned theaters, but who has seen a substantial majority of my fellow Houstonians do the same.

Wilbur said...

When I last attended the opera - about 5 years ago in Miami - the crowd was largely well-dressed, a good number in formal wear. Dressing up is part of the fun, to me.

Beldar said...

If the actors, or producers, or the theater owners wish to maintain some particular standard of decor, they may -- and many do.

When they have not, though, I'm disinclined to give other patrons a veto over my fashion and comfort choices.

The Godfather said...

You all are missing something.

Do you remember John Travolta dressing for the club in Saturday Night Fever? It was like a knight getting ready for the tourney, or the Pope getting ready for High Mass.

Dressing can be empowering! If I'm paying megabucks for an opera or a Broadway show, I want to dress like it's a BIG DEAL. I don't really give a crap about how other people dress. If they dress like bums at the opera, then that gives me someone to despise, and that's always enjoyable.

My BIG LAW firm in DC went to "business casual all the time" for two reasons: (1) the geek dot-com gazillionaires that we wanted as clients all dressed like they were still in junior high school, and we didn't want to make them uncomfortable; (2) the graduates of the top law schools in the country that we were hiring as entry-level associates didn't own a sport coat and necktie, much less a suit, and we didn't think they should have to spend some trivial percentage of the enormous salaries we were paying them to buy some business clothes. I think the young lawyers missed something by not having to dress like grown-ups (and not have grown-ups as models for how a professional dresses).

Paul Ciotti said...

" If I knew I was in the front row, I'd take care to wear dark and respectful clothing. "

I thought white was respectful and that was one of the reasons that brides wore it. If actors want the patrons to wear "dark and respectful clothing" they should just post a notice on the theater door--"ALL PATRONS MUST WEAR BLACK." Also "NO CLEAVAGE" and "NO TIGHT PANTS OR DRESSES ABOVE THE KNEES."

Smilin' Jack said...

There are movies now. The only sensible reason to go to the theeeaaterrr is if you're hoping to get lucky with someone during intermission. Dress accordingly.

tim in vermont said...

My wife goes to four plays a year in NYC, often with our grown daughters. I stopped going a few years ago. Movies are a higher form of art, IMHO. Sure the Lion King was a great spectacle, a kind that you are not getting at the movies, but so is Circ du Soleil. I saw Billy Madison in London, and that was pretty memorable too, but honestly, shows like "Wicked"? Picking over the bones of great original art produced last century? Let's look at every story every told from the female point of view? Who needs it? Yes the vocals were first rate in that show, but I no longer get it. I have been to more shows than I can count and that is enough.

As for dressing, I always dressed a little nicer than business casual, I don't want to be the guy who is underdressed. I don't want to be overdressed either, I dress as if I were going on a date.

Coupe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael K said...

I used to go to London every year to go to the theater. I hate New York and would rather spend a few more hours in the air. We saw Cats several times, once with six teenagers. We saw Starlight Express and some other great shows. London is much more fun than New York. We were going to go this time but didn't have time. Maybe next year.

averagejoe said...

Went to The Actor's Gang theater, Thursday night is 'pay what you can'. The play, written by Tim Robbins, was called "Harlequino: on to Freedom". It was ostensibly about the African Slave Trade origins of the Commedia Dell Arte, but ultimately a paean to Black Lives Matters. Despite the progressive social messaging, it was very enjoyable, an excellent entertainment, quite creative- There were about 15 or more players, and they had multiple roles, so just offstage there were mirrors and costumes set up and the players would change and apply makeup and costume so you could see them transforming from one character to another, it was very cool. The intensity of live theater, of live performance can not be replicated on video. To be right there a few yards from the performers is exhilarating. It helps a lot that The Actors Gang is one of the top theater groups around, and they have the money to stage exotic productions other small theaters can't. Still, there is nothing that beats being there.

Laslo Spatula said...

"Something simple, inconspicuous and dark."

See: grey-sexual.

I am Laslo.

Ann Althouse said...

@Achilles That sounds like a disturbing medical condition, a body that can't self-regulate in response to temperatures even of the room temperature kind. You can't put up with long pants in an air-conditioned theater? And you chose the moniker "Achilles." Do you know how hot it was out on the beach by Troy and the heaviness of the armor?

Ann Althouse said...

"'If I knew I was in the front row, I'd take care to wear dark and respectful clothing.' I thought white was respectful and that was one of the reasons that brides wore it."

Respect relates to the context. A bride wearing white is respecting an occasion that consists of gathering other people into a place where they will gaze at her and be impressed by her and what she is doing. An audience member is respectful by not detracting attention from the actors, who are the focus of attention. Wearing white to the theater (when you'll be in the line of sight to the stage) is like wearing white to someone else's wedding.

Ann Althouse said...

"Michael K: perhaps we should form a union? Picket for minimum standards of decency/formality in public dress and manners? Agitate for sumptuary laws? I think my husband might be up for it, especially if he thought it might vex the Millennials."

Sumptuary laws are about preventing the lower people from getting too dressed up.

Anyway, dress codes are imposed by private establishments that want to restrict entry, and clearly, in our time and place, they're cowed and beholden to the economic pressure customers exert. It is for us to make our own decisions about how we want to present ourselves and how much we want to exert pressure on others. It's mostly what you do for yourself. Deciding not to wear glaringly white sneakers in the front row of the theater in full view of the actors and other audience members is like deciding not to cross and recross your legs and shake your foot for 2 hours or that you're not going to yawn gapingly or pick your nose. For the most part, we control ourselves... at least about things that we realize are bothersome to other people or make us look bad. I think the wearing of white sneakers in the front row is something that was mostly done by theatergoers who didn't even think of why it's disrespectful and that just understanding that it's bad is all that is needed to change behavior.

Ann Althouse said...

Some of the sloppy dressing we're seeing is done by people who not only don't care if their sloppy dressing bothers some people, they actively enjoy bothering anybody who's bothered. Every time I write about men in shorts, I get comments from men who express that they are only too happy to annoy me by wearing those shorts. That is the self-presentation they want, and they are even happy to mansplain the theory that the male body is some kind of hopelessly out-of-control furnace.

Ann Althouse said...

"My wife goes to four plays a year in NYC, often with our grown daughters. I stopped going a few years ago. Movies are a higher form of art, IMHO. Sure the Lion King was a great spectacle, a kind that you are not getting at the movies, but so is Circ du Soleil."

I love Cirque du Soleil, and it is really something that needs to be seen in person. The filmed versions don't work for me. You have to see the whole huge space filled with coordinated activity. (I saw "Love" in Las Vegas a couple months ago.) Spectacle is one of the reasons to go out and be in the theater, rather than to stay in your comfy chair at home. Some movies are worth seeing on the big screen (though possibly ruined by bad conditions in the theater).

"I saw Billy Madison in London, and that was pretty memorable too, but honestly, shows like "Wicked"? Picking over the bones of great original art produced last century? Let's look at every story every told from the female point of view? Who needs it? Yes the vocals were first rate in that show, but I no longer get it. I have been to more shows than I can count and that is enough."

I saw "Wicked" when I lived in NYC 7 years ago. Found it unpleasant because: 1. The songs weren't interesting (I hate the blasting female empowerment belting that's been going on everywhere), 2. The theater was too large to give any significance to the feeling of being there, and 3. The charming elements of the story were swamped in the overproduction. I'd much prefer seeing it as either a movie or a local theater production.

"As for dressing, I always dressed a little nicer than business casual, I don't want to be the guy who is underdressed. I don't want to be overdressed either, I dress as if I were going on a date."

Sounds about right. And I think it should be up to the man to figure this out. If his woman needs to coax him or tell him, something important is lost, especially if he's at all grudging about it.

mikee said...

The South Park explanation of Broadway plays made more sense to me than any other explanation of theatrical art and its popularity. That said, pants should be optional.

Char Char Binks said...

The performers need to dress for their performance; the spectators don't.

Megaera said...

Ann, in case you mistook my point, I am well aware of the history and purpose of sumptuary laws: I suggested them (that is, putting formal wear formally off-limits to all but a specific elite class) because one way to make something instantly attractive is to prohibit it. Can't hurt, might work.

Achilles said...

Ann Althouse said...
"@Achilles That sounds like a disturbing medical condition, a body that can't self-regulate in response to temperatures even of the room temperature kind. You can't put up with long pants in an air-conditioned theater? And you chose the moniker "Achilles." Do you know how hot it was out on the beach by Troy and the heaviness of the armor?"

I wear a weight vest for long stretches. During my first deployment in Iraq it was very hot. I can wear pants. I have several suits although they are very lightweight fabric, breathe well, and the socks are usually very thin so it isn't bad. But when I am in a suit I am not doing things. Generally when I am out and about I like to do things. The days I am stuck in a suit or god forbid an airplane are turrible.

The other problem I have with pants is that they don't fit me. My waste is 30ish and my thighs are close to that. My hip/waste ratio is 44/30. I tear out a lot of pants and it is embarrassing and expensive. I have to buy cargo pants that are several sizes too big and it looks kinda silly.