There are countless reasons to dress with a sense of dignity and certain level of gravitas. One of these reasons is an affirmation and reminder of a sense of seriousness with which it is appropriate for us to approach life. I am referring to seriousness which impacts oneself within and without. When we take ourselves seriously in terms of dressing ourselves, this is a reflection of taking ourselves serious in life, mission and purpose. Not only does our inspiration to dress ourselves with a sense of seriousness grow from within but the choice to do so also reaffirms to ourselves, often when we need it most, that we are worthy of being taken seriously and this world worthy of serious confrontation, from without. It is a sort of cycle.
Looking beyond ourselves and thinking about the other people we encounter on a day to day basis - what does our dress say to them? Anyone who dressed in both an overt mainstream casual style and the style we love understands that there is a marked difference in how you are treated based on how you are dressed. Of course some people have a clearly negative response to someone dressed in our style, but this is not the majority in my experience. In my experience, and I assume yours, when you dress in a way which reflects a certain masculine seriousness, you are taken more seriously. The people who encounter you simply take you more seriously. Sometimes it is reflected in the way they speak to you, sometimes it is reflected in other less obvious ways. Nevertheless, dressing with dignity commands respect in a way that dressing hyper-casual does not.
True story - When my wife and I were in the hospital for her delivery of our first child I was wearing charcoal wool pants, a white OCBD, a rep tie and a camel hair sport coat. After a few hours one of the nurses told me jokingly that they thought I was the new CEO of the hospital who they hadn't met yet, but was expected at the hospital that same week. I wasn't even wearing a suit, I was just wearing a tie and a sport coat and they thought I was the CEO of a hospital.
Someone may protest - "Why do you want to be taken seriously?" The answer is - "Because I am a man." Our lives are not jokes, they are serious, they are our story and the idea that en masse men should strive to make their lives one big joke with no self-respect and projecting no sense of seriousness is an idea that would be entirely foreign to any of our ancestors. I am not saying that we should be dour every moment of our lives, that we should have no sense of humor about ourselves or that we should just be curmudgeons. We must laugh, we must enjoy ourselves! I laugh all the time, I am not always dour, and am decently funny or at least my wife thinks so - but my mission is not to be a comedian. I am less serious, jovial and joke-y with my family, not as my total public presentation to the world. There are enough comedians making everything a joke. The world doesn't need any more "eternal funny guys". It needs more men to be a bit more serious, in a thoughtful way. We have to enjoy life, we have to allow ourselves to be happy, be flippant, but jovial, be at ease and simply be. We do not need to be in a perpetual stoic state. But, there must be a greater sense of serious about us today. Men are not in a healthy state. It is a state of general depressive mocking, a kind of hilarious spectacle with dark overtones, and it is one without end. The degraded aesthetic of man reflects this today. There is a right time for everything. There is a time for humor and there is a time for seriousness.
Taking oneself serious doesn't mean being gloomy or depressive. It doesn't mean being without joy or happiness. It means orienting oneself in a general way to understand one's life and mission as something worth taking seriously. When we take ourselves seriously, we dress as though we take ourselves seriously and thusly people take ourselves seriously. In a way, why do women lack respect for men today? In many ways, it's because we don't take ourselves seriously. Of course there is a place to make women laugh. That is also part of our job a bit. I think it was Christopher Hitchens who said women aren't funny because humor developed as a male trait to woo women. It makes sense to me, I think he was probably right about that. Most men make their woman laugh. Yet, it's private, not public and not constantly a continual laugh riot.
How much could change overnight if men started dressing in a manner which reflected earnest seriousness? There could be an energy shift overnight. Dressing is not like working out which yields very slow results and gradual change. Dressing yourself in the morning is an immediate change. So much could change immediately. A general err or seriousness could replace a general feeling of eternal mocking spectacle. Any man who has been on both sides has seen this himself. Think of what could change if our way of dressing was adopted en masse.
Today we are in the minority, this is true. Perhaps for the foreseeable future we will continue to be in the minority. That is okay, we will continue on, against the grain, much like this rep tie against the grain of the university stripe. A divergent way, against the grain. Style and aesthetics matter.