When Men Wore Hats

Hubs and I were sitting in Arby’s today, eating our Sunday lunch and talking about today’s church service. It’s our usual routine. Church, lunch, chat. A little people-watching always goes along with that, as we share communion of Arby’s sandwiches with our fellow man … and woman. I love to observe people. I don’t do it to judge; I do it because they interest me. Today, I watched a larger, middle-aged woman in stretch capris and a pink hoodie order food with a small man in green shorts over black sweat pants and orange socks. A man dressed all in tattered black proved that he could indeed mix colors by showing me his upper butt crack. Pasty white on black – the “in” colors of 2014. (Okay, butt crack always makes me judge a little.) A tidy older woman with coifed hair and blue jeans came in, followed by a family with four children who hadn’t visited a bathtub in a week. We see all kinds during our Sunday ritual.

On this particular Sunday, Hubs had performed double duty for choir. He had sung with his all men’s singing group for our first service. When they perform, they wear suits and matching ties. Men looking dapper – mmm, gotta love it. So, when the full chancel choir entered the sanctuary for the second service, a number of the men who sang at the first service were also present in the full choir for the second service. As I sat in the back pew (where every good Christian sits) and watched the choir enter, I was impressed by how classy and well-groomed they looked. In our laid-back church, people wear whatever they want. Most of the time, it’s dressy casual, but there’s always a mix of blue jeans and suits. To see that many suits all at once in the choir loft was a real treat.

At lunch, after the obligatory, covert people-watching, Hubs and I discussed the morning’s service. I mentioned how well-groomed the men in the choir had looked. Hubs agreed. I was about to remark about how slovenly society in general had become when I happened to glance around the restaurant. I saw the lady in pink and her companion on one side of us and the family with the kids on the other. If I had said that remark, even though it was a general one, I would have insulted most of the people in the restaurant, so I shut my trap.

Perhaps it’s me. I’ve been told that I’m too prissy for my own good, but to me, it just means that I hold myself to a standard of appearance that makes me comfortable. But I have to wonder when society began to believe that all forms of dress are appropriate at all times. Frankly, I blame the leisure suit.

I grew up in a time where a person wore his or her Sunday best to church. We dressed, and we dressed well. I remember playing with the fox stole of the prim, elderly woman who sat in front of us. The mouth clipped onto the tail, and the young me, maybe 6 or 7, would stroke the fox, petting it. When was the last time you saw a fox stole in church?

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The ladies wore hats and never removed them. The men wore hats and always removed them. Suits and ties were de rigueur. My dad shined his shoes with tins of Kiwi polish every Saturday night. Dressed to the nines, we worshipped God in style.

Where has that mentality gone? I remember the first time a woman dared to wear dress slacks to church in the ‘70s. Titters and gasps rippled through the congregation as she walked down the center aisle to her pew. You’d have thought she was wearing slacks designed by Satan himself. The first time I wore dress slacks to church, I felt like I was sinning, so ingrained was the idea of wearing dresses for worship. Nowadays, I’ll admit to wearing jeans too, but they’re nice jeans. You know, the ones that aren’t ripped and still bleed dye in the wash. I can’t even tell you the last time I wore a dress. Or a hat and fox stole.

Today at church, it was refreshing to see that many men in suits and ties. I think it’s only right that if we are going to give God our best, then we should dress in our best. But then, does He really care what we wear when we’re doing His work? After all, John 3:16 does not say, “For God so loved the world of fashion, that He gave His only Son a Rolex, and whosoever believeth in His dress code shall have eternal good taste.” I still love to see a well-dressed person, so maybe a dress code for life wouldn’t be a bad idea, but it would certainly make people-watching at Arby’s a lot less interesting.

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One response to “When Men Wore Hats

  1. Love this, Barg! 🙂

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