George Will's most recent column is actually a crusade against that quintessential American fabric: denim. I went into it thinking it would be another cranky screed by an aging commentator running out of stuff to talk about but parts of it actually make sense:
Long ago, when James Dean and Marlon Brando wore it, denim was, Akst says, "a symbol of youthful defiance." Today, Silicon Valley billionaires are rebels without causes beyond poses, wearing jeans when introducing new products. Akst's summa contra denim is grand as far as it goes, but it only scratches the surface of this blight on Americans' surfaces. Denim is the infantile uniform of a nation in which entertainment frequently features childlike adults ("Seinfeld," "Two and a Half Men") and cartoons for adults ("King of the Hill"). Seventy-five percent of American "gamers" -- people who play video games -- are older than 18 and nevertheless are allowed to vote. In their undifferentiated dress, children and their childish parents become undifferentiated audiences for juvenilized movies (the six -- so far -- "Batman" adventures and "Indiana Jones and the Credit-Default Swaps," coming soon to a cineplex near you). Denim is the clerical vestment for the priesthood of all believers in democracy's catechism of leveling -- thou shalt not dress better than society's most slovenly. To do so would be to commit the sin of lookism -- of believing that appearance matters. That heresy leads to denying the universal appropriateness of everything, and then to the elitist assertion that there is good and bad taste.
This is very true. If one were to take a look at 1930s America, when Americans were stuck in epic positions of poverty, you'll see fedoras, golf caps and US Navy pea coats:
For such poor folks, they certainly knew how to dress. (The peacoat appears to be coming back into fashion, fortunately.) Based on the evidence of George Will's personal fashion decisions, however, he may have a bit of learning to do.