REALLY, Demon Denim. That is the piece. The whole piece.
Writer Daniel Akst has noticed and has had a constructive conniption. He should be given the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He has earned it by identifying an obnoxious misuse of freedom. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, he has denounced denim, summoning Americans to soul-searching and repentance about the plague of that ubiquitous fabric, which is symptomatic of deep disorders in the national psyche.
And which goes a restrained 600 of its 725 words before name-dropping Edmund Burke, and makes its case without ever relaying what Clemenceau said to Woodrow Wilson. Apparently "Rejected" is not a category WaPo is contractually allowed to apply to its stableboys' copy. And by the way, if you do make it through the first 692 words there's a sort of coda of Obviousness, like licking your way through some godawful Tootsie Roll Pop to get to the coprolite in the center:
(A confession: The author owns one pair of jeans. Wore them once. Had to. Such was the dress code for former senator Jack Danforth's 70th birthday party, where Jerry Jeff Walker sang his classic "Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother." Music for a jeans-wearing crowd.)
Youth is wasted on the Young. Snobbery is wasted on Snobs.
Before we go any further, let's mention something about that Akst piece which George Eff Will missed, probably due to a congenital problem: it's funny. Not roaringly funny, no, but funny, certainly as funny as something published in the Journal and dedicated to its notion of the innate superiority of rich people could be expected to be. And it's far from a conniption, George. Conniptions are rarely funny, and never in defense of the conniptionee's sense of What Is Or Isn't Done. Conniption is a dish best served from under the rock that's just fallen on you. Albert Brooks' nest egg routine in Lost in America is funny. Dick Cheney's reaction to, well, virtually everything, is not.
This is our clue that Will is not simply engaged in some sort of anemic leg pull. He runs--that's not quite the word--with the worst feature of Akst's piece: the insistence that Demon Denim is popular as some sort of Trendy Liberal Hypocritical Lincoln-Navigator-to-Whole-Foods Faux-Radical solidarity with the Sons of the Soil employed by phony Pinko CEO types like Steve Jobs as a badge of authenticity, and mindlessly adopted by the masses because their Lefty Hollywood Idols told them so, without their realizing they're helping to promote Socialism.
And Will treats all this like it's some sort of revelation, or rallying cry of Freedom, for chrissakes. Which would be bad enough in the first place, but coming from a guy who for three decades has employed patently anachronistic neckware as a visual shorthand for his protest against the Modernist excesses of the middle of the last century, and who enthusiastically backed not one but two US Presidents who pretended to be cowboys, in full ranch get-up, it's just, well, rich.
Denim is the infantile uniform of a nation in which entertainment frequently features childlike adults ("Seinfeld," "Two and a Half Men") and cartoons for adults ("King of the Hill"). Seventy-five percent of American "gamers" -- people who play video games -- are older than 18 and nevertheless are allowed to vote. In their undifferentiated dress, children and their childish parents become undifferentiated audiences for juvenilized movies (the six -- so far -- "Batman" adventures and "Indiana Jones and the Credit-Default Swaps," coming soon to a cineplex near you). Denim is the clerical vestment for the priesthood of all believers in democracy's catechism of leveling -- thou shalt not dress better than society's most slovenly. To do so would be to commit the sin of lookism -- of believing that appearance matters. That heresy leads to denying the universal appropriateness of everything, and then to the elitist assertion that there is good and bad taste.
And here's another thing about humor, or even employing the form of humor without even bothering to attempt to deal The Funny: it has to connect with people, even if that connection is "Boy, what a weirdo". Nobody in America dresses down out of concerns about Social Leveling; hell, I doubt two in ten could define the term, and they'd just laugh at you if you did it for 'em. You're a fucking hothouse flower, George, and, if I may say so, your bloom is looking a little spent. Was poshlost taste any better back when no gentleman would leave the house without his hat, or his spats, or unless his body servant had powdered his wig correctly? No. It was thirty decibels or so quieter, is all. (By the way, and I'm not recommending this to you, George, but if you spend some time among Our Most Slovenly--this would be one reality program I'd watch, come to think of it--you might note that while denim is employed by young males it is largely absent in the middle-aged colored; if you wanna see people dress, go downtown.)
Denim is the carefully calculated costume of people eager to communicate indifference to appearances. But the appearances that people choose to present in public are cues from which we make inferences about their maturity and respect for those to whom they are presenting themselves.
We? Who besides you? The guys in HR? If Americans are wearing denim everywhere, even somewhere where you spotted it (if at all, of course; this is, at its center, an homage) then they obviously don't believe it's a sign of immaturity or disrespect. In fact they obviously don't think about it at all.
This is not complicated. For men, sartorial good taste can be reduced to one rule: If Fred Astaire would not have worn it, don't wear it. For women, substitute Grace Kelly.
First: Fred could wear anything, just as he is one of the greatest interpreters of Gershwin despite a four-note vocal range. Neither should be urged upon everyone else based on his model. It is, by the way, always amusing to hear latter-day experts touting the tuxedo--and no one's ever worn one of those like Fred--as some sort of "classic" men's apparel when it began as a sort of shockingly casual alternative to full morning dress.
Second, and this has nothing to do with anything except that in a lifetime of keeping a quote book I'd never run into this one: Judy Garland apparently believed Her Future Royal Highness Princess Grace stole the Oscar™ Judy should have won for A Star Is Born. And she was asked, sometime later, whether she thought Grace Kelly was a nymphomaniac. "She would be," Judy said, "if they could figure out some way to calm her down."