As Temps Rise, Philly’s Dress Code Plummets

Outlandish heatwave fashion in Center City.

It’s nice to see women of all shapes and sizes looking feminine and put-together in summer dresses. Wasn’t it a glorious day when we ditched summer-weight suits, as if there really is such a thing, and decided that we could get pedicures and go pantyhose-free whenever we wanted? What’s easier than a great dress? Add your favorite sandals and some jewelry, and you’re good to go anywhere—work, happy hour, Target.

Since our welcomed evolution to casual chic, why would any of us ever wear a shower cap, ripped pajama pants with a missing drawstring, and a much-too-small cami, with no bra, out in public? I’ve seen more than one of these get-ups during this heatwave, and they actually look like more effort than a summer dress, some flip-flops, and a swipe of lipstick. Also, can we all agree that, in any state whatsoever, hair is always better than a plastic shower cap? No one with free will should be snacking in Target while wearing one. Even if you’re being carried out of your own house on a stretcher—dead, alive, or in between—you, or someone who gives a minimal crap about you, should have the presence of mind to pull that shower cap off of your head before they get you through the front door.

It doesn’t take an over-the-top, fashion-obsessed type to see that these people need to get it together. I get ticked off when they get $5,000 shopping sprees on What Not to Wear, as if Stacy London, the self-appointed supreme guru, is here to set us straight on shower caps not being an acceptable accessory, like the rest of us have been letting this go because we just don’t know any better. Of course we do. Maybe we have some questionable sweats for walking the dog around the corner, but that’s it. Just think of what fun we worker bees could have with an out-of-the-blue five grand that can only be spent on our own wardrobes. Why should someone who crams her back fat in and around a toddler-sized undershirt be rewarded for that behavior?

Economics are not an excuse anyway. Times are tough for most of us, and we have other spending priorities, but every single shower-capped or bra-less, pajama’d offender I’ve seen lately in this city, also had tattoos and/or facial piercings and some kind of technology in her hand, which all cost a lot more than your average bargain store outfit. As much as some of us would love to walk into Knit Wit and shop without looking at price tags, there’s no shame in Old Navy/TJ Maxx/Target.

There should be shame about how “casual” is abused on a daily basis. We didn’t embrace it as far back as you’d think, like the first time someone walked out of the ocean in a long-sleeved, long-legged, woolen Victorian bathing suit. People remained buttoned-up right through the ’80s. Finally in the early ’90s, someone—probably a secretary who was tired of going through three pairs of pantyhose a week—invented Dress-Down Fridays. We were all in, except for people who voted for Reagan, and who needs their permission to do anything?

But, as usual, the pendulum has officially flown off and hurled itself so far into the stratosphere that school districts have had to revise their dress codes to include, “No pajamas or slippers.” Worse are grown people, out and about, who have taken the liberty to redefine “casual” as “whatever.” “Whatever” is a lot worse in summer than it is in winter, summer-weight shower caps and all.