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People Watching

February 16th, 2013

or perhaps I should title this one “business attire.”

I think you all know that I am in my early (!) sixties which means that my opinions of what is proper to wear for different occasions are informed from growing up the fifties augmented by being at University in the 1960s. You also have heard my rants about inappropriate dress in the main dining room on cruise ships.

I can remember professional medical meetings from the mid-1970s. Everyone was in business attire and by that I specifically mean sports jackets/suits on the men and blazers with skirts or pants (or dresses) on the women.

This experience was followed by years of attending various assorted conferences and meetings either sponsored by or paid for by mililtary services of one country or another. Again, a uniform or dress code was the standard of the day. To a certain extent you and your professionalism was judged on the way you presented yourself.

I don’t know when fashion changed. I can actually understand not seeing many people dressed up at a travel medicine meeting. One of the things that unifies those who are travel med is their personal adiction to travel and dress seems to reflect travel and recreational modes. You will see plenty of hiking trousers and fleece.

At regular medical meetings I guess I expected a bit more. Causal and slovenliness is not uniform across the board. Those from various Asian nations are uniformly well and conservatively dressed. Almost all those non-caucasians representing various African locations are also in jackets and ties. Those over 60 and most over 50 are dressed conservatively which just leaves especially those under 40 from Western Europe and North America.

Jeans, t-shirts and the occasional sweatshirt seem to be the standard. Sandals and falling apart chucks on the feet. Now it is one thing if you are sitting in the audience for the main meeting but if you are one of the presentors?

Is it me? Am I reflecting old trends which say appearances count? Does how you dress impact your audience; show respect? Or are those totally irrelevant concepts to today’s young professionals. And I do emphasize professionals. The minimal educational level in this group seems to be a master’s dregree with a huge number having a doctrate level degree in one field or another (medicince, public health, stats, epi, lab sciences, modeling, vet).

Ah well. I will continue to wear a blazer and look how I think an adult should appear. Of course, I suppose that some might object to my knitting……

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  1. Isobel
    February 18th, 2013 at 14:54 | #1

    Of course I agree with you on proper attire AND knitting. :-)

  2. Cheryl
    February 18th, 2013 at 14:54 | #2

    Whoever objects to your knitting can get off his smart phone!

  3. Chere
    February 18th, 2013 at 14:56 | #3

    I feel the same way about professional dress, and was always happy to dress up when I wasn’t going to be on the floor with the youngsters. If you catch some of the TED Talks, the same lack of proper dress is happening there- go figure.

    You ought to see all the knitting that goes on in our “church” services- usually 3 at a time, front row, midsection on the aisle, south window seat etc., and a wide variety of male and females including one of our best musicians (just not on the days he’s performing) who all show great skill. Some don’t even look down. Oh, that musician is also a doctoral student in Physics from a University in Paris whose name fails me at present. He’s doing his research at one of the big labs in Newport News. I’m sure he’s not busy or anything….

  4. Holly
    February 18th, 2013 at 14:57 | #4

    Now, knitting during religious services is a step beyond my comfort. Meetings, no sweat. But in competition with the service. No, not going to go there….

  5. Alison
    February 18th, 2013 at 14:57 | #5

    Made me guffaw at that last line.

    And absolutely, a professional in a professional meeting should dress
    like a professional. (For me that would be long hair, Birkenstocks, and
    a handknit shawl, because, well, I’ll be at Stitches the coming weekend…)

  6. Mary
    February 18th, 2013 at 14:58 | #6

    Yikes! I can’t believe this! No respect for themselves, their audience or the organisations they represent!

    But who am I to comment!!!!

    Hope you are learning lots of interesting things! Just close your eyes or don’t look up from your knitting!


  7. Bob
    February 18th, 2013 at 14:59 | #7

    We’re even farther along the age linear but feel – and dress – as you do. I think there’s been a return to but reformation of the hippie movement to the hippo movement, but perhaps that’s only here in the southeast. As a volunteer three shifts a week at our local hospital it absolutely amazes me to see doctors, nurses and administrative professionals wallowing the halls, seeming unmindful of how their looks nullify the messages of healthy living they orate. But, that’s just my opinionated senior’s words.

  8. Holly
    February 18th, 2013 at 15:00 | #8

    was that wallowing? or waddling? or both since the hippos have been turned loose?

  9. Bruce
    February 18th, 2013 at 15:03 | #9

    We went to an open house today to look for ideas. House 550K, 4000 sq ft, 1 year old.

    Real estate agent, mid 30’s was wearing faded blue jeans with holes in both knees.

    We were not impressed.

  10. ron
    February 18th, 2013 at 15:04 | #10

    Deb and I have a running joke that there is an Orthopedic Uniform:

    Formal version/dress Navy Blue Jacket, single breasted, pressed Khaki pants, loafers with highly polished dark brown or black uppers. Button down pressed shirt with tie optional. East coast tie with company or sports logos, West coast no ties, lapel pin with company logo. Oversized Sports Watch, Rolex or similar status brand. Both Genders wear the same thing. Most of the females look like males. Occasionally you will see a business suit with a skirt and modest pumps… few and far between.

    Informal Version Male: Same shoes, Same pants. Polo style shirt with only the top button undone and the stitched logo of the company they are currently being bribed by, or the sports team to which they owe their professional livelihood. Female informal is highly variable and largely dictated by their sexual orientation… either they look like the men, or they go over the top feminine to prove they are heterosexual.

    I went to a surgical and medical sarcoma meeting last year. The attire was all over the spectrum. It was an international meeting. You could tell the continent of origin by their clothes. I went casual and stood out like a sore thumb. I forgot the watch… otherwise I would have been styling like all the other casual Americans.

  11. Pat
    February 18th, 2013 at 15:06 | #11

    What I’ve been hearing recently is that being a presenter and able to
    get away with casual attire is a sign of your power & prestige. The
    more desirable you are as a speaker, the less dressed up you are. This
    is particularly true for younger presenters. I will confess that I’ve
    been doing some of this myself. At meetings, especially when
    presenting, I dress nice. But for day to day work, I usually wear
    jeans. I am not in public view as much as I used to be, and I have no
    administrative duties anymore. I kind of feel like I’m not very
    important, I guess, while at the same time feeling important enough to
    not need to impress folk all the time. Or maybe I’ve just been sick
    too much for too long, and just don’t feel up to fighting that hard
    all the time, and being cold and shivery and uncomfortable. I dunno.
    Or, I’m just lazy. LOL!

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