The Cloth of Sloth

We live in a strange society where the names of clothing matter more than the yardage used to create the garments. We don’t wear “underwear” out in public, not even if it is made of thick cotton and covers most of our torsos, but call something a “swimsuit” and no matter if it barely covers the salient issues, it is acceptable. (Well, maybe not acceptable in church, but depending on where you live, it could be acceptable almost everywhere else.)

If you live in the United States and you wear something called “pajamas,” which used to be the standard of clothing in certain countries and which covers you neck-to-ankle, that is not acceptable. But if you wear tiny shorts and an even tinier crop top, that is acceptable. There are all sorts of wonderful pajamas on the market now that are made of soft cotton and look like jeans and a casual shirt, but if you wear the clothing out in public, that is so not acceptable. In fact, I’ve lost count of the number of blogs I’ve read where bloggers turn up their nose at those who dare to be comfortable and wear such clothing anywhere but in the privacy of their own bedrooms.

If you wear a “slip,” that is not acceptable, even though many cocktail dresses are created using that same basic pattern. But if you wear skintight clothing that leaves absolutely nothing to the imagination, well, that is acceptable to most people, though if you aren’t as thin as a model, you do run the risk of having people look askance at you.

The same double standard goes for footwear. If you wear slippers out in public, even the kind that cover your whole foot, you are considered slovenly, but flip-flops and even bare feet are acceptable.

And worst of all is if you were to wear your bathrobe outside!! Think of it. You’re in a grocery story line and you see someone in a soft fleecy robe belted over clothes, what do you do? You edge away from her, wondering if she is in his right mind. And if she is wearing pajamas beneath the robe, oh, my. How terrible. But why is it terrible? Simply because of the name of the garments.

In “The Time for Bathrobes,” Barbara Holland wrote: “America has never been a nation of bathrobe wearers. If the mailman catches us in our bathrobes, we mumble and blush. It has nothing to do with modesty. It is the shame of being thought inactive. Bathrobe’s the cloth of sloth.”

Little by little, my solitary life is beginning to nudge my consciousness out of its established groove, and ironies such as those I mentioned here seem to stand out in high relief. Perhaps I’m spending too much time in my own head? I’ll be careful, though, and not go to the store in my bathrobe. I wouldn’t want to get arrested for decent exposure.

8 Responses to “The Cloth of Sloth”

  1. Coco Ihle Says:

    Oh, Pat! You made me laugh! How right you are. We humans are strange! Thanks for the chuckle!

  2. leesis Says:

    oh so true Pat here in Australia too. I love my Pajamas and when at home will wear them in preference to anything else. i get lots of chuckles out of peoples reactions when they visit because these days I refuse to change even though I know they are comming. I’m not quite brave enough to wear them out but I wish!

  3. John Mc (@JohnMc_Lpool) Says:

    You have obviously never visited Liverpool (UK). here it seems to be quite the norm in some suburbs to wander around the streets, go shopping, pick the kids up, etc in, what are obviously, pyjamas. It is also a common site to see young girls with massive rollers in their hair wandering around the city centre in the middle of the afternoon. As for slippers, big, fluffy, novelty slippers seem to be a fashion accessory.

    think yourselves lucky you don’t have to experience that every day.

  4. sandy Says:

    hahahaha, I live in Nederland and sometimes you do see people out at the grocery store or PO in PJs. I once gave directions to some hikers on a trail who had driven up from I forget where and they asked if they could go out to one our local restaurants in their hiking clothes, I just laughed (and of course reassured them it would be A-OK). It is one of our local jokes.

  5. joylene Says:

    My grandson used to wear his jeans around his hips so his under shorts could show. He did this on purpose. Turns out so did his 200+ friends. Haha.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I saw a guy the other day keep pulling his pants down to show his underwear because they kept riding up his hips. I remember the days when kids would hitch their pants up because they kept riding down their hips. What a life.

  6. Rebecca Carney - One Woman's Perspective Says:

    This made me chuckle!! The clothing – or lack thereof – worn in South Florida boggled my mind when we first moved there!! I will never forget the 50’s-something guy window-shopping…while wearing nothing but a bright pink Speedo thong!!


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