I do not like dress codes. I find them restrictive and, at times, outdated. I understand I am in the minority on this subject and I recognize there are occasions during which there should be a proper attire required. Saturday night, we went to see the ballet Giselle after a long day of touring outside Yerevan. As we were entering the opera house, I was singled out because I was wearing shorts. The attendant who removed me from the line refused to let me into the building until Professor Ohanyan convinced her otherwise. These were not gym shorts, mind you. These were relatively nice shorts made of the same material as some dress pants. These would be acceptable in America, but not in this situation. In Armenia, it is uncommon for men to wear shorts instead of pants, even during the summer. It had been over eighty degrees Fahrenheit the entire day of touring and I was still hot wearing the shorts. In the theatre, I saw several men about my age wearing pants, but with t-shirts you would find people wearing at Disney World. I was wearing a nice shirt I had bought just before the trip. I do not know why there is a difference between pants and shirts, but I know there is a flaw in that person’s logic. I know there are cultural differences everywhere when it comes to attire, but this was ridiculous.
It got me thinking about how most dress codes are social constructs, not laws. For instance, I was always told to look my best for Church services on Holy Days of Obligation. Why? If God truly loves each of us and created our individuality, why would He care what we wear to worship Him when He truly knows us? If God had intended us to have dress codes, He would have given Adam and Eve clothes in Eden. We dress ourselves in fancy clothes to present ourselves to each other. Weddings, funerals, etc. are events where you should look “presentable,” because you are supporting someone else in their event. If I was going to the ballet to support one of the performers and take photos with them afterwards, I perhaps would have worn pants. I was there to enjoy a theatrical performance I had never seen before and, as I was not the evening’s entertainment, I did not wear pants. When I walked into the theatre, only a handful of people stared at me (which has happened every day here so I am used to it), and the rest did not care!
In conclusion, I do not support dress codes generally, but I understand when they may be necessary. I believe it is ultimately up to each person’s own expectations of what they consider to be “proper attire.”