Lunching at an upscale restaurant last week and here’s what I saw: Logo T-shirt (shapeless), khaki shorts and flip flops, on both women and men. We are talking Shoreline Grill, not Maria’s! Whoa… I started thinking about this and identified 6 reasons for the ultra casual (some would say style-less) body covering that passes for getting dressed in Austin.
1) You work at home and only dress when you go out to avoid getting arrested for indecent exposure.
2) You are on vacation and are taking the kids to Schlitterbahn after lunch.
3) You want to look like you don’t have to work (#5 wannabe).
4) You have surrendered to the weather and now wear a T-shirt, shorts and sandals no matter the occasion or location.
5) You are 21, sold your startup and can wear whatever you want because are $oooo rich.
6) Your mother used to lay out your clothes so you are absolutely clueless on how to dress yourself. In this case you need to call me or another stylist pronto!
Having been here now for 5+ years my own look is more casual and I can accept other viewpoints on being well-dressed. I understand why so many get dreamy-eyed when I tell them I live in Austin. It is HOT but who wouldn’t want to live with immediate access to parks, hills, lakes, rivers, great live music and some pretty fine restaurants?
That said I can’t resist putting in an endorsement for thinking independently and creating “a look” no matter what your occasion for getting dressed. Unfortunately I don’t see much of that in our fair city. Grunge went out years ago. Shorts and cowboy boots??? Only if you are under 14 or at the ranch. And style is NOT about money, not when you can find good design at the vintage, resales and thrifts and Missoni at Target.
What it means to be well-dressed here should be more playful than other business-type cities. Austin is a resort and a refuge for indies.
Even if you are in a profession that requires a suit, dressing well is about individual creativity and is an act of generosity – once you’re dressed you don’t have to look at you but everyone else does. Play to your audience and don’t be surprised if you get applause.