January 20, 2012

"The moral fiber in America is dwindling away... It's pajamas today; what is it going to be tomorrow? Walking around in your underwear?"

So said a school official in Shreveport Louisiana, fretting about the loungewear trend among young teenage girls.

I love the logic. It takes me back to 1965, when I was in 8th grade, and I got sent to the vice principal's office for wearing miniskirts. In an effort to reason with me, he said: What will it be next? Girls coming to school in bikinis? That made zero sense to me. It came out of his imagination. I was into being fashionable, and we girls were required to wear skirts in those days. I wanted the skirt to be trendy. If I were about breaking rules I would have worn jeans. I wouldn't have leaped to wearing a bathing suit!

In a similar vein, the girls today who wear pajama and sweat pants to school aren't on a path toward underwear. They've got to wear something and they've found clothes that are extremely comfy and also on trend. It wouldn't be comfortable to show up in nothing below the waist but panties. That's a picture in the mind of the school official. Get that picture out of your head. You're working with children!


SGT Ted said...

Fashion Bullshit tag time, Althouse.

How about just being able to dress for the occasion? Is that too much to ask of teens?

Sorun said...

Two things that are never in short supply: The imminent end of the world, and the dwindling of America's moral fiber.

Brian Brown said...

girls today who wear pajama and sweat pants to school


Something tells me a majority of these girls are not going to make it in the real world.

Scott M said...

You're working with children!

Another thing valuable for children is to learn that there are arbitrary rules in life, and while you can hire daddy's lawyer to argue your case in a public school, that may not fly when you try to go get a job.

madAsHell said...

You're working with children!


I think you're working with...or, maybe, against, the girl's mother.

C'mon...Toddler tiaras?! Pajamas with "Pink" and "Juicy" written on the butt. Do ya' really think the father of the girl approved that!!

Ann Althouse said...

"How about just being able to dress for the occasion?"

What is the occasion? Should my law students be coming to class in suits and ties?

Scott M said...

What is the occasion? Should my law students be coming to class in suits and ties?

Should togas be allowed?

kjbe said...

When I was in 5th grade (about 1970), I got called down to the principal's office for wearing pants under a dress. Their reaction was the same - worrying that the moral fiber in America was dwindling away. For crying out loud, dresses everyday, in WI, are impractical and uncomfortable.

As Scott said, it was an arbitrary rule...it got changed and the world didn't stop spinning.

Big Mike said...

I first saw high school girls wearing lounge pants about ten years ago at my son's track meets. They chose plaid patterns in their school colors and eschewed the normal track pants of their teams' uniforms. The guys were pretty cool about it.

Synova said...

The "trendy" jeans are tight and low so even skinny girls end up with muffin tops and butt cracks (do either of those sound the least appealing?).

The "loungewear" is usually thick or even fluffy fabrics that are lose, very like sweat pants.

Objectively the pajama pants or sweats are far more concealing. Of all the various things teens wear the pajama pants are the best of them.

I honestly don't know what the fussers think that the alternative is. Have you not SEEN the jeans that teenagers wear? Are they going to wear "mom" jeans instead?

Big Mike said...

Should my law students be coming to class in suits and ties?

Shouldn't they start getting used to wearing them? I'd imagine that learning how to look professional is something that shouldn't wait until one becomes an associate.

Chip S. said...

That made zero sense to me.

Oh, come on. Surely it made epsilon sense to you. "Zero" is so ... absolute.

Bob_R said...

Snuggies are next.

Gabriel Hanna said...

College-age women now seem to wear nothing but tights.

Roger J. said...

The two biggest headaches an administrator can create are (1) establish a dress code, and (2) assign reserved parking spaces. Nothing good comes from neither.

David said...

That principal probably loved picturing you in a bikini, Althouse. The rascal.

As to suits and ties on law students, that was still the dress tradition when I entered UVA law school in the 1960's. I did not wear a coat and tie--just slacks and a shirt usually. I was seen as quite the rebel. Crazy.

Seeing Red said...

I tought they did a study and found lazy fashion, lazy mind? I thought I read a few years ago casual Fridays were on the wane because of that reason and some people were getting too casual.

It must be a generational thing, it bugs me to see my kid's teachers in jeans teaching a class. I consider it unprofessional, there's very little authority left with teachers, clothing still signifies it.

Scott M said...

Nothing good comes from neither.

That depends entirely on the scantiness of the dress code and to whom it is mercilessly applied.

Roger J. said...

Scott M: although it probably wont pass legal muster, the code should address "dress appropriate to the position." Of course there are those that will push the limits and then managers need to become involved in a discussion with the miscreant about what is appropriate. I do believe the resonably prudent person standard applies here. there is no dress code that cannot be beaten by the innovative employee. Several years ago, the city of Saint Augstine Florida attempted to codify the definition of a butt/ass/arse in a civil code that ran two pages. In response, presumabably to the influx of thongs/tangas/ and the like. It was absolutely hilarious and involved parallel and perpendicular lines along the lady's backsides.

KCFleming said...

The moral fiber in America is dwindling away.

The clothing is evidence of it, not the cause (i.e. correlation ≠ causation).

Boomers were the revolution that made immorality the cultural norm, but they were merely the final shove.

The decay proceeds apace. Not a damned thing can be done about it

Bruce Hayden said...

Started seeing this at my kid's private school in the mid-2000s or so. The girls involved turned out just fine, as did Ann back with her miniskirt.

I think that one of the aggravating things about teenage girls is their herd instinct and need for conformity. (The boys of that age have their own problems). But, it isn't one of those things that you can really fight that much - other than telling a daughter that she can't be seen outside the house in that outfit (and, at least back then, and most likely now, that wasn't effective for some - girlfriend tells about her sister getting her to help smuggle her pants out of the house, despite her mother requiring skirts). Girl World during that time can be viscous, and conformity with style requirements is just one part of it.

Thank goodness that sometime through high school or so, a lot of them grow out of the worst of it. And, by college, their personal style doesn't seem to be completely controlled by the herd.

Guys, it was a little different. Not as worried about trends, but am maybe a year ahead of Ann in school, and the big thing for us was that we could wear jeans again. Doesn't sound very harsh, but growing up in Colorado, wore them up until junior high, where they were banned. Then got to wear them again at some point in high school - and have been doing so ever since. Oh, and at my high school rough out cowboy boots and button down shirts. Weird, looking back at it.

In any case, when I entered college, things were still pretty traditional. Some older students remembered mandatory chapel service. We still had mandatory coat and tie for Sunday dinner. Until my class got there. A lot of the guys took to wearing coats, ties, pants (sometimes shorts), and footwear. And, after a bit of guys showing up without shirts to Sunday dinner, that was it for the Sunday coat and tie requirement.

I don't remember the girls in my high school wearing that short of skirts. But, definitely not pants - except on special occasions. My first memory of them then was in college, but then a lot of the young women there seemed to wear stuff that went the other way - girlfriend, all of about 100 pounds, would mostly wear the overalls of a friend who outweighed her by 70 pounds or so. Huge on her. Of course, this was just after the Summer of Love, and hippie culture was rampant.

SGT Ted said...

What is the occasion? Should my law students be coming to class in suits and ties?

Uhh, no, just ordinary, outside the house clothing.

Is that such a hardship?

Junior enlisted folk with GEDs somehow seem to be able to manage to differentiate between pajames and outside clothes.

Or will your delicate law students be hurt being held to the standard of dress for employment at a minimum wage job at the quickee Mart? Is that asking too much for these folks to do? Our future leaders?

Like I said, Fashion Bullshit Tag time.

strongoldguy said...

The only way I made sense back then of the opposition to girls wearing pants was to cynically assume that the male teachers liked looking up short dresses.

I remember being mad (jealous?)at the the male teachers for the vantage point they had the excuse to occupy. I would follow their eyes; there's no way they weren't looking!

I know of a principal that dedicates himself to catching kids wearing hats in violation of the no-hats policy. It has always been thus: School officials pretending like they are working.

Scott M said...

Not a damned thing can be done about it

Oh, I dunno...a good, healthy pogrom might work. Sure, it creates all kinds of burial problems, but, what the hell?

strongoldguy said...

The only way I made sense back then of the opposition to girls wearing pants was to cynically assume that the male teachers liked looking up short dresses.

I remember being mad (jealous?)at the the male teachers for the vantage point they had the excuse to occupy. I would follow their eyes; there's no way they weren't looking!

I know of a principal that dedicates himself to catching kids wearing hats in violation of the no-hats policy. It has always been thus: School officials pretending like they are working.

SGT Ted said...

Besides, PJs as school clothes is SOOO '90s. Like, old fashioned, dude.

Roger J. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
virgil xenophon said...

Well I'm old enough to remember when only dresses were allowed for girls--no slacks, jeans of any kind--and everything seemed to go just swimmingly. In fact, at at the college level this was maintained--manly in the South--at LSU 1962-1966 women were not allowed to wear slacks or jeans to class either (and LSU was/is one of the premier party schools in the nation) even as co-eds in the Big 10 were parading to class in sweatshirts and cut-offs. But of course, those were the days when not only were there no co-ed dorms, but at LSU the mens & womens dorms were on opposite sides of the campus several miles apart..

Roger J. said...

Scott M: auto de fe's might be effective, particularly for those young ladies who wear the sweat pants with "juicy" and "pink" festooned on their butts right below their tramp stamps/ho patches.

Dan in Philly said...

Ummm, though they aren't coming to school with bikinis, can you not admit the social norms have relaxed even more than in 1965? He may have been wrong in the detail, but the trend he was correct.

The stuffy guys back then actually had some good points, which as I understand it were pretty much pooh-poohed by society, and pretty much all of which bore fruit

Wince said...

You know the message you're sending out to the world with these sweatpants?

You're telling the world, 'I give up. I can't compete in normal society. I'm miserable, so I might as well be comfortable.

Seeing Red said...

I could have happily gone thru life not knowing what camel toe is, but I have a teenager.

Scott M said...

I could have happily gone thru life not knowing what camel toe is, but I have a teenager.

I feel the same way about mucus plugs. I threw up a little just typing that.

edutcher said...

I've been seeing adults (including the moron who tried to light up in the airplane's loo and tried to get away with, "I didn't know"; he was greeted by the fuzz when we landed) in those things for about 20 years so the kids are only following the example.

Problem is, that's how the little darlings will show up for job interviews and wonder why they can't find work.

Darleen said...

What is the occasion? Should my law students be coming to class in suits and ties?

Really, Ann, how much respect are your students showing you if they come to class looking like they rolled out of bed?

I grew up with school clothes, play clothes and a sunday outfit. The only time I wore pjs outside of the house was when my parents tucked my sister and I in the backseat of the car with pillows and a blanket and went to the drive-in movie.

My youngest daughter hit grade school about the time they adopted uniforms ... and, I admit, an anecdotal story ... I noticed a different attitude among the kids (I was a SAHM and did a lot of volunteer work at my kids' schools)

Stephen A. Meigs said...

Much of the claimed moral revulsion from men against girls wearing skimpy clothes, etc., originates from men doing nasty things to older females. Lots of men do nasty things to women, and frequently these women became addicted to such nastiness when they were young. Males who do nasty things to girls tend to be especially worthless, and when the girls get older they not infrequently realize they made a mistake. Well, there is a whole troop of other nasty males slightly more successful more than willing to step in. But instead of rescuing the girls from their abuse, they decide they'd prefer to still do nasty things to them. The men who specialize in doing nasty things to fallen women--they need to convince the women that their past problems were from being sexual too early as opposed to from having had nasty things done to them by nasty males. These seducers of fallen women forever are on the look out for any very clean girl who dresses skimpy or otherwise acts sexual to humiliate with unjust criticism; doing so makes it more believable they really think early female sexuality rather than nastiness is the problem. These men love to behave as though they believe girls are idiots and in desperate need of all the commonplace pedantic knowledge they claim to feel the lack of which is what can make girls go sexual.

The phenomenon is extremely pronounced on Youtube. If a girl is skimpily clad or sings a suggestive song (or more especially both) on youtube, then she will be insulted in proportion to how clean and non-screwed up she looks. If she is very clean, innocent, and respectable looking, she could get a dozen people a day (largely nasty older males and their women zombie slaves) mercilessly slandering her as an evil bitch, future whore, etc. It's hard to overestimate the evil of pedantic nasty types. Nowadays, general opinion is an ill guide for girls seeking to understand what is depraved. Of course, much pedantry in men (and people generally) is just innocently having too broad a definition of what constitutes depravity (something anti-sodomy types with their prudence are especially likely to have if they aren't clear in their definitions of sodomy), but even there, the social climate against young female sexuality largely if not mostly arises from having been influenced by lies from pedantic nasty males geared toward seducing fallen women.

Hagar said...

That would indeed be appropriate for law school students.
For undergrads generally, open shirt collar and slacks is acceptable.
Civil engineering students get to wear levis to class because they have concrete and asphalt lab courses to go to.

Blue@9 said...

Hell, when I was in HS the girls wore flannel boxers as shorts on hot days. Don't recall hearing any comments about moral fiber, but maybe cotton was good enough.

Joe Schmoe said...

I've given up trying to control things extraneous to the task at hand. Most people handle themselves just fine. And at school, we're there to educate. You can make a case that dictating dress helps that; that's fine. I disagree.

At work we're there to work. Places I've worked that focused on extraneous things like dress, and how long you were actually sitting at your desk (versus actually doing work) ultimately didn't do a good job of providing excellent products or services as they were mired in minutiae.

I lecture to college students at a very liberal institution. They overwhelmingly dress appropriately and conservatively.

I've found that engaging people is way more productive than dictating some sort of predefined environment.

As to my own shining example of how I wore crisp seersucker suits and straw boater hats to all my 8 o'clock classes; well, most of the time I didn't go.

Hagar said...

Palin left the university environment 25 years ago when the culture had not yet coarsened to the degree it has today.

And the Palin kids are not allowed to use "language" around the house.

Seeing Red said...

Work? What is this "work" of which you speak?

Donna B. said...

Though the article was mostly about girls wearing pajamas to school, the Shreveport LA official they quoted was talking about guys in WalMart. He's not a school official.


"District 3's Michael Williams said his cause was spurred by an incident at a local Wal-Mart that offended some elderly customers."

“I saw a group of young men wearing pajama pants and house shoes. At the part where there should have been underwear,” his private parts were showing through the fabric."

He's a moron.

wv: mancede. Not touching that one!

Joe Schmoe said...

I remember wearing Sears Toughskin jeans that simply wouldn't bend at the knee, and barely yielded in the seat and waist. Oh the good old days...

Kevin said...

I got into an argument with my wife about this. She thought this is a sign of the girls just being slobs, which is anti-sexual. But I argued that it is sexual.

A normal teenage boy thinks about sex 98% of the time. He really has to work hard to get any other ideas into his brain. It's a real struggle. It's bad enough having the objects of one's greatest desire sitting in the desk next to you, all day every day. Now you're putting them in the clothes they wear to bed. Bed, where people have sex and are otherwise generally intimate with each other. He no longer has to imagine what she looks like in bed, he can see it--Right There! In thin, soft fabric. Easily removeable. No belt. Just a little drawstring...

That's disruptive, and I'll never agree to it. It is just unnecessary, and as far as I am concerned from the point of view of the boy is closer to a hostile work environment than anything else. The boy is required to be there by the state, and to have to come in every day and try to think about calculus with THAT staring him in the face every day. How can this be a good idea? Why not just lingerie then? The line has to be drawn somewhere, why not here?

Scott M said...

A normal teenage boy thinks about sex 98% of the time. He really has to work hard to get any other ideas into his brain. It's a real struggle

It's only let up these past couple of years down to 75% or so and I'm 42. In all seriousness, I agree with Kevin. Thinking back to me thinking about the girls in class around me, this would be a problem. Stretch pants and leg warmers were bad enough.

DADvocate said...

The school official is way off base. It's yoga pants. Yoga pants will destroy this country and then the world.

My 15 year old daughter discovered yoga pants after getting a pair for Christmas. She just bought two more pairs. She never like the pajama look.

LordSomber said...

A comment over at Roissy's:

"Hell, on a visit to a college campus some years ago, I saw all the coeds slobbing about in frumpy sweats/PJs, flip-flops and ratty shirts.
They were 18-24, so they were smoking hot nonetheless, but they dressed like bums."

It's been my unfortunate experience that women dressing this way, erm, tend to not smell so nice.
But that would make sense: Who wakes up in the morning and bathes just to put PJs back on?

howzerdo said...

I notice a lot of students in my classes dressed very casually (sweat pants or PJs) and also not appropriate for the weather (flip flops and/or shorts in the winter). More young women wear pajamas, and more young men wear shorts, but flip flops and sweat pants are popular attire for both.

KCFleming said...

The decline in appropriate dress mirrors the decline in politeness and civility over time.

It is not unrelated to the wild beatings that gangs of young men have taken up in many big cities.

Yes, the moral fiber of America is unraveling.

People like to chuckle and mock you for saying what is so obviously true, pointing out that this has been said routinely for the past 100 years.

But the complaints over the past 100 years were right. The are segments of certain cities that are completely barbarous. Other places look like civilization is still in place.

And you gotta admit, the barbarians are winning. The entire city of Detroit is one big no-go zone. Baggy pants, that prison fashion, weren't the cause but its uniform.

Anonymous said...
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Sydney said...

The first time I saw a teenage girl wearing the pajama style was in one of my exam rooms. I walked in and the first thing that came into my mind was, "Oh, dear, this child is very sick. She couldn't even get dressed this morning." It took me a while to realize it was a new fashion. (Once in a while an adult will come in dressed in there pajamas and it is a signal that they are very ill.)

tiger said...

I was thinking about this today when I saw a young woman wearing flannel pajama pants at the grocery store.

1) This style as peaked, thank farking allah.

2) The whole 'It's my personal expression and why do you care?' nonsense is just that. Why a young woman think's it's hip to be seen in public wearing farty-smelling pajama bottoms is beyond me.

3) What's next? The woman letting her 10 year son get tattoo'd, that's what.

Any sense of appropriateness has disappeared from a sizeable minority of people.

Now, get the fark off my lawn.

Jose_K said...

What is the occasion? Should my law students be coming to class in suits and ties?
This is different county but until the 60ps it was compulsory.
And among the proffesor still today is the custom.Only a few leftwingers living in the sixties refuse to use suit and tie. The average temperature here outside 33 celsius. Inside, between 15( research centers) and 25 classrooms.
Bikinis ?you wish. To the hip jeans with donkeys cracks in the outside with g strings.Fat and slim women alike. here no one have self steem issues. If they were in the italian ship , no one would drown. They carry lifesaving devices and they show them.
Skirts as short as belts. Shorts. some men isn shorts too.
here law school is like everywhere in the world but the USA, undergraduted school. Their entrance age. 16 to 18. Female professor usually dress alike the youngers.( or are as undress) Around 90% used to be women until the goverment beggan pushing out the best grades because they come from private school. So with worst grades, the number of men and old people is growing. Before you ask, smart men usually go to engeenering , of course.
With that enviroment some professors, old guards or some females professors dont allow men in shorts,or sandals.Or women using tshirts without sleeves, sandals, tops or transparencies.
So the slipery slope could be really slippery

Steve said...

Hmm . . . my daughters middle school has a pajamas day once a year. Maybe they figure that's a sure way to convince the kids that it's not cool so by high school they will never again see the PJ's. ??

Jane said...

Aaahh ... My homeschooled kids have so many jammie mornings, I have nothing to say ... Actually, though, before we seriously get down to work we just have to change into real clothes. Jammies are too common around here to be a fashion statement.

Joan said...

The real problem with pajamas at school is what comes with them here in AZ when the mornings are cool: blankets instead of coats, jackets, or hoodies. The kids wrap themselves up in the blankets and that's that -- they are distracted for the rest of the day. I'm talking junior high (7th & 8th) grade, here.

Our dress code prohibits blankets and we give the kids jackets if they need them.

Oh, and out here in AZ, you can bet the kids would wear their undies if they could -- our dress code also prohibits "bootie" shorts, which are smaller than a lot of underwear, but the girls try to get away with wearing them anyway.

bagoh20 said...

I can't imagine a situation where a Snuggie would not be appropriate attire. Hell, judges were em in court. That's the height of formality.

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