Rethinking Clothes – Fashion and Cleanliness

Photo: Chet Thomas

I watched a fair amount of the cartoon Doug on Nickelodeon as a kid. Doug wore the same outfit every day. In fact, he had a closet full of the exact same outfit. And the best part about this dream world – no one seamed to notice or care! *

Why is it that we change outfits entirely from one day to the next? Why is there a social stigma that you shouldn’t wear the same thing two days in a row, or even two days in the same week? I am blessed that I am not the smelly kid in the class (you know who you are, I hope) – do I have to play by the same rules as everyone else? If I put on clothes to sit in front of my computer all day, they certainly aren’t going to get dirty. Regardless, the next day I have to get out a completely new set of clothes that will once again stay perfectly clean while I sit still for 90% of the day.

I believe this is an antiquated approach – not so long ago people sweated a lot more than today. There was much more physical labor, but now we have machines that can do it at a push of a button. There was a time when clothes were made of heavy wool, but now we have incredibly breathable fabrics. There was a time when a hot day was unavoidable, but now we have air conditioning to keep our environment at a constant 72 degrees. We even have air conditioning in our cars!

If we don’t sweat as much, the clothes don’t get dirty nearly as soon, so we don’t have to wash them after every use. And yet isn’t this the norm for most articles of clothing? And if we don’t have to wash them at the end of the day, why don’t we just lie them out and wear them the next day? Assuming you are going to be in a similar environment, it doesn’t make any sense to put outfit A back into your closet, and scrounge around the next morning to come up with outfit B. Then you have the difficulty of keeping track of how many times you have worn outfit A to know when it should be washed. Alternatively, if you wore it 3 days straight, then you could just throw it straight into the wash!

I can see two main arguments against this – 1) fashion and 2) cleanliness. Some people enjoy picking out a cute new thing to wear every day to impress their coworkers. I don’t and feel I am in the majority, at least for guys. Rather than having the minority impose their will on the majority, why doesn’t the majority band together to make it socially acceptable to wear the same thing multiple days in a row? As for cleanliness, you are either washing your clothes too often because that is what you were taught to do OR you are the smelly kid. Smelly kids should continue to wash their clothes after every use.

I do remember one episode of Doug where they dealt with clothing. For some reason Doug’s characteristic green sweater vest ensemble became the hot new fashion trend. So hot in fact that the entire school showed up one day wearing it. Doug was just one of the crowd, and no one believed him that he had been wearing it for years. Then the next fashion trend came and the whole school ditched the green sweater vests – except for Doug! Everyone thought he was a dork for wearing the old trend, and no one believed him that he had been wearing it all along.

3 thoughts on “Rethinking Clothes – Fashion and Cleanliness

  1. Lara says:

    Iron your clothes???? Please! That’s far too advanced a move for someone who can’t be bothered to pick out a new “outfit” every day.

    But I think she will be fine as long as you don’t start dressing like Jesse.

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