Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Old Man: Classical Clothing

As some of you may know, I am going to be teaching English at a Classical Christian school this coming fall. I am excited about this as the model for Classical Christian education seems to me to be an excellent way to foster appreciation of the good, the true, and the beautiful, in whatever subject is taught.

However, as I understand this model, the object of this study of the classics is not to focus solely on those classics at the expense of modern works, but to form an appropriate and sound (Biblically, in this case) sense of what makes a piece of literature (in my case) good, true, and beautiful, or any combination of those attributes. That might sound limiting to some of you dear readers (and it did at first to me), but it is not. Only when taken in the most literal and strict sense is a classical education limiting. If you only study the classics at the expense of modern works, you miss out on the whole purpose of Classical Education, which in my opinion is to help you found a Biblical worldview when it comes to Literature. However, if you see the classics as touchstones to help form a critical eye, and a jumping off point from which to view other works, it becomes incredibly freeing, as you are able to tackle any style, genre, or subject matter, with a solid base from which to work.

(As an aside, I would think that even the most devout postmodernist would agree with this in practice, if not in theory. Could you [the devout postmodernist out there] imagine a writer setting out to deconstruct a text without first having read Derrida, and de Man, and even their precursors like Saussure and Freud? I have read them all and even still I cannot begin to deconstruct a text. But that probably comes from other problems with my mind.)

OK, I hear you say. What in Dante's vision has this got to do with clothing? Well, I did put the word clothes in the title so I suppose I do owe you an explanation.

It's no secret that I am a fan of "the Curriculum," a set of standards of clothing, if you will. I won't go into all the details, but you can read the founding parable and decide for yourself what the Curriculum actually is.

It's also no secret that I have strayed from the path through my journey. Words like jeans, slim fit (gasp!), heavy ivy, heritage, and the worst of all, t-shirts come to mind. But I've always stayed true at heart to the basic principles of the Curriculum. And because in the founding weeks and months of my clothing journey, I was exposed so heavily to the Curriculum through Andy's place and the Curriculum (bless their hearts, they took me in when I had not even the slightest clue, and they have created a monster), I am able to look at a trend or other style of clothing, evaluate it according to my guiding standards, and either accept it as good, true, and beautiful, or reject it as, well, not those things. Or at very least appreciate it for what it is, even though it does not line up with my personal style.

I think this process has given me a well rounded style. I wear suits to church. I wore a blazer, khakis, a striped tie, and penny loafers to my interview. I will wear tweed and bow-ties to teach. But I wear t-shirts around the house, and jeans to the grocery store, and shorts and flip-flops when it's too hot to think about anything else. I stray thus in good conscience, knowing that I have tested and approved these styles, and feel comfortable about my choices.

One of the greatest compliments on an outfit I have ever received was given by Oxford Cloth Button Down, regarding my latest Sunday Style post. He said "I like how comfortable you look in your rig." And gosh darn-it, I feel comfortable in it.

I'm not saying everyone needs to abide by "the" Curriculum, or by mine. But a good grounding in a classic style isn't such a bad thing to have. You can always modify it. And to be honest, I would be suspect of anyone who didn't use the standards of their Curriculum to analyze a new style or trend, and synthesize the best parts into theirs.

Thanks for reading.

Conor
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