The Culture of Suits by Isaac Schott-Rosenfield

I’ve always wondered why it stopped being proper practice to wear suits, not just in the
workspace or at court, but as everyday wear. They’re comfortable, attractive, afford a fine range
of movement, and, most importantly, they signify an interest in a more mature brand of social
interaction: a proclivity for adult grace. They pushed The Beatles to fame, the Mafia to infamy.
They look brilliant on “The West Wing,” “Madmen,” “Brideshead Revisited.” So why do we
abjure the trappings of professionalism, of power and elegance, in favor of ripped jeans and
sloganized T-shirts? For the “comfort” of stiff Levis? Alors vous êtes nonconformist? Alors vous
êtes cool? It is this culture of studied indifference that I find insulting. It’s not so much that
people don’t wear suits, but that were I to walk into a school in a suit, I would be mocked, the
occasion questioned, my reasoning examined and discarded. A suit is ridiculed as formal and
snobbish, cast aside as foreign and outdated, replaced with a ragged pretension of nonchalance.
These same principles apply to writing and speech. I recently watched a TedTalk with a man who spoke of texting as “writing like you talk,” saying that it would be ridiculous to speak like good writers write. Why? What’s wrong with eloquence, with literacy, with speaking with more than a thousand words, more than ten basic sentence structures?  Would it be so bad if people thought a little before they opened their mouths? I’m not advocating that we speak in regimented sentences, or force a manufactured word into a situation where it doesn’t belong. I’m not saying that casual speech should be lost on us, simply suggesting that we drop the tired offspring of an incestuous diction, to speak with dignity, with care and with grace.
Isaac Schott-Rosenfield, class of 2017

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