Rebel Against the Slopification of Culture

Rebel Against the Slopification of Culture


The Arcade Fire made headlines for setting a dress code for their current concert tour: formal attire, or a costume.

When faced with some negative push back, frontman Win Butler reportedly told a crowd: “To anyone who felt uncomfortable dressing up- I’m not sorry.”

I like his answer. Setting aside the odd bit about the costume option for a minute, I ask: What’s with our generation and the aversion to cleaning up nice? Is it really such an affront to our freedom to be “restricted” to some standard of dress for some types of occasions?

I think it is unquestionable that we have seen a drastic loosening of standards in North America for what is appropriate dress in general, and it makes me kinda sad. It is most absurdly illustrated in a line of hairstyle goop made by Axe called “Whatever Messy Look Paste”. I believe the tagline is actually, in all seriousness: “Keep that just-out-of-bed look all day long.”

Yeah, that’s what I want to pay for.

So this is the cultural trend, and you can probably think of many other examples. Do you think that Catholics should keep pace with this general slide into sloppy, disinterested style? Heavens, no! Catholics should look good. The Catholic faith proposes an understanding of the human person as the image and likeness of God. Our dress should be consistent with our dignity as his daughters and sons. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.

I really like the fashion advice of St. Francis de Sales. He said:

“As to cleanliness, that should be uniform and we should never, if possible, let any part of our dress be soiled or stained…  Always be neat, never to permit any disorder or untidiness about you.”

And also: 

“I should like my devout man or woman to be the best-dressed person in company, but the least fine or splendid and adorned, as St. Peter says, with the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit.”

Clean, tidy, best-dressed in the room but not flashy. I can get behind that (with a little fashion advice from my wife, that is).

Hopefully I’ve convinced you, young grasshopper, that you should take care to dress well in general. Now I want to suggest to you to step it up another notch when you go to Mass.

My wife and I were in the States a while back and we were driving to church. We passed a large crowd of really nice looking people. The men had tucked-in shirts and some had ties. The women had nice dresses and skirts. They looked great, and like they were going somewhere important. These people were of course, Protestants.

For heaven's sake, Catholics, let’s lose the track pants and flip flops when we go to Mass, can we? How is anyone going to believe that you believe you are going to meet God (truly) and offer him worship when you look like you’re really about to plop down on the Futon with a bag of chips?

I’d even say drop the jeans and runners, too. If you have nice clothes in the closet, but wear them to other occasions besides Mass, what does that say about what you think of Mass? “Sunday best” is a term because Sunday deserves our best. This is where the shirts and ties and modest skirts and nice shoes should come out. And people driving by should say “Hey, they look good. Must be a bunch of Catholics going to church.”   

Maybe like the Arcade Fire, I will get some push back on this post. Well, to anyone who feels uncomfortable about dressing up- I’m not sorry, either.

Please though, don’t wear a costume to Mass. Let’s not go there.


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