11/21/2013 04:29 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

7 Things People Dressed Up For In Our Grandparents' Day

If my grandparents were alive, they would be appalled at the things we wear in public.

I'm not even referring to things that are too sheer, tight or revealing, either. It's more about how casual we dress for any situation that involves leaving the house. It's not uncommon to see full-grown adults in pajamas, out and about, as if wearing flannel pants cheerily festooned with Spongebob Squarepants was just as valid as wearing jeans in public. Which it isn't. At best, it's the most severe form of laziness one could ever experience. At worst, it's the sign that putting on jeans -- hell, even workout pants, which are the city dweller's equivalent to PJ pants -- has become too much effort.

Looking back at photos from our grandparents' generation, everyone looks so dapper. Their clothes fit. Their hair is combed. They do not look like they're on day 6 of a weeklong bender. While it would be ridiculous to go back to '50s standards of dress, with stringent girdles (for the ladies) and sock garters (for the gentlemen), I think we do need to reassess what our clothes are saying about ourselves.

Let's take a look at a few common situations where people used to dress up from our grandparents' days.

Visiting The City


Check out this crowd on 42nd street in Manhattan. There are hats, suits, dresses and (sensible) heels. Not one sweatpant that says "Juicy" on the backside.



This is a group of sorority girls hanging out in the dorm. No further comment is needed.

The Salon


The salon was where you'd catch up with your friends as you freshened up your perm. It was not a place to go around in see-through yoga pants.

Grocery Shopping


A grocery store was another gathering place where you'd expect to run into friends and neighbors. And you just know they all gossiped about anyone who dared show up in curlers.



People were nosier and visited their neighbors more often, back in the day. Even if you were mowing the lawn, the dress code was put-together.


airplane dress

Particularly when you go via airplane. Today, showing up to the check-in counter in a non-elastic waistband could be enough to get you an upgrade.

Birthday Parties

kid party

These days, kid parties are terrifyingly organized events complete with overbearing parents and "curated" goodie bags. But old-school kid parties were low-key affairs where the center of attention was cake...which is how it should be. Of course, you dressed neatly and nicely in order to be deemed deserving of delicious, glorious cake.