The Station Wagon podcast: Seattle - Snoqualmie - Olympia: Episode 7: Giving up Dressing Down

Friday, October 30, 2015

Episode 7: Giving up Dressing Down

Eat your heart out James Bond - this is our 007th episode in which we give up our casual style and see what it's like to dress up all the time. Plot spoiler: one of us liked it, the other did not.


Marc before and after.

Julie before and after.

Being fancy at work (note the candles).

Marc and Molly (interview inside this episode) have a future in Stock Photography.

What are fancy-working-on-the-van clothes?


Romans typically wore a tunic, but to get fancy, and separate the upperclass from workmen and slaves, they would wear toga’s. However, like most fancy clothes-- “No doubt keeping such a cumbersome item of clothing on one's body, and looking elegant, will have been fraught with practical problems as one moved about, sat down and got up again.
In some cases lead weights were sewn into the hem to help keep the garment in place. In order to help the toga drape more gracefully, slaves were known to place pieces of wood in the folds the previous evening.”

This “middle class” could afford expensive and luxurious fabrics that were shipped in from as far away as Egypt.  These more moneyed citizens had enough wealth to dress well but they had little else they could spend their extra money on.  So they invested in fine clothing which they wore with great flair to make sure everyone could see that they had money and didn’t mind showing it off.
There were laws that imposed what different classes  could wear.  For example, “The upper class and royals were permitted to wear clothing made out of different types of expensive and rare materials, such as fur, velvet, silk, lace, etc.”, “Only Queen Elizabeth and her relatives could wear clothing that used gold or gold trimmings as embellishment.”
“Why do we do this? People haven’t always cared about beautifying their dining tables. The Western craze for dressing the table took hold in the late 18th century, when the aristocracy turned table-setting into a form of expression. Ever since then, thematically curated tables have often expressed the desire to escape from daily life to a fantasy world…”
Author and Founder of the Emily Post Institute. Founded in 1946 by Emily Post and her son Ned, The Emily Post Institute, Inc. (or EPI for short), continues to promote etiquette and civility in America and around the world. Spanning five generations, this family business maintains and evolves the standards of etiquette that Emily Post established with her seminal book Etiquette in 1922. Manners change over time and vary depending on location and culture. The Emily Post Institute studies this evolution. Acting as a social civility barometer, EPI elucidates new manners for today's world based on core values of honesty, respect, and consideration."(

This began the “trend cycle” in retail, which was created by clothing manufacturers to make more money and propagated by the magazine industry, also to make more money. Ultimately this marketing strategy pushed the consumer further and further away from the “ideals of classical dress” established in the 1930s, which were all about choosing long-term pieces that best flatter the body. Instead the goal of clothiers became to confuse and pressure the consumer to continually “re-invent himself” by purchasing “new styles” that are “in fashion”. More sales, regardless of the longevity or aesthetic of the look.
“In 1966, the Hawaiian garment industry was trying to sell more shirts, and they came up with the idea of “Aloha Friday.” The idea was to encourage Hawaiian businesses to let their employees wear Hawaiian shirts to the office once a week.”

H.I. McDunnough, rocking a Hawaiian Shirt.
The Bedazzler is a plastic device, similar to a stapler. The base has a circular wheel (a "Tiffany setting") opposite the plastic applicators ("plungers"). The device allows users to add various rhinestones and other assorted studs to fabrics and similar materials.[2]

National Fancy Rat Society was founded. This was the first ever “rats only” organization. It set standards, published a newsletter, and held shows. Since 1976 interest in fancy rats has grown enormously, and many new varieties have been found and standardized.
“Casual Fridays, and they became a perfect “no cost perk” for budget-strapped companies trying to make their employees feel more relaxed. Just not too relaxed.” Brought to us by Levi’s.

Fancy Nancy is a young girl with a larger than life personality, who adores all things fancy. She always dresses extravagantly, wearing boas, tutus, ruby slippers, fairy wings, and fuzzy slippers.


  1. Formal Place Setting
  2. James Bond Dinner Jacket
  3. Seating at an Official Lunch or Dinner
  4. Section 3.4.a.5 of A Guide to Protocol and Etiquette for Official Entertainment
  5. Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review, 84(2), 191-215.
  6. Butler, S., & Roesel, K. (1991). Students’ perceptions of male teachers: The effects of teachers’ dress and students’ characteristics. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 73(), 943–951. doi: 10.2466/pms.1991.73.3.943.
  7. Dacy, J. & Brodsky, S. L. (1992). Effect of therapist attire and gender. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 29(3), 486-90.
  8. Hannover, B. & Kuhnen, U. (2002). The clothing makes the self via knowledge activation. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 32(12), 2513-25.
  9. Lukavsky, J., Butler, S., & Harden, A. J. (1995). Perceptions of an instructor: Dress and students’ characteristics. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 81(1), 231–240. doi: 10.2466/pms.1995.81.1.231.
  10. Slepian, M. L., Ferber, S. N., Gold, J. M., & Rutchick, A. M. (2015). The cognitive consequences of formal clothing. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 6(6), 661-8. doi: 10.1177/1948550615579462.