Dress Codes

for the

Twenty-first Century


Ruth L. Kern

International Etiquette Consultant








Copyright, 2000, Ruth L. Kern  

This book may not be reproduced in any form

without the written consent of the author






Dress Codes

for the

Twenty-first Century








When I was growing up, there were very strict rules about proper etiquette, morals and even dress codes.  These rules were widely known, accepted and meticulously adhered to.  If one broke the rules, at the very least, he or she would be gossiped about, at the very worst, socially ostracized.


In many ways, life was easier because of the rules.  In the late 60’s, however, events occurred in America that caused the established rules and even the laws to be questioned and then broken by many, especially the baby boomers, who were coming of age at that time.  A breakdown in the established order of our society ensued. 


Parents and the leaders of our country tried in vain to maintain the status quo, but the sheer number of baby boomers who were rebelling, made them a viable force that had to be reckoned with.


Many of the things that came out of the 60’s were good and necessary changes for a country which prides itself on being, The Great Democracy.   Unfortunately, everything that happened was not for the greater good.  Women’s newfound freedom and independence resulted in many women deciding that they could not enjoy this freedom or independence while in a married situation.  The divorce rate skyrocketed leaving many children in one-parent families. 


The African-Americans were promised complete equality with white Americans.   While much progress has been made in granting equality for all African-Americans, the ones who are still not enjoying the American Dream are even more discontent than they were before all the promises were made.  Our cities, where many lower income African-Americans live, are hot beds of unrest where there is much crime and sometimes rioting.


Now, that we are in a new millennium, Americans are looking back at the last century and trying to decide what was good and what was not.  Most Americans seem to want more order and structure, not only in their own lives, but also in society as a whole.  They want rules to be re-established. 


The rules they wish to re-establish range in scope from morals and manners to dress codes.   The subject of morals is not something that I, as an Etiquette Consultant, wish to deal with, but the subjects of manners and dress codes are areas that I, not only have opinions about, but for which I know the rules!


I hope that the following article will be a guideline to help clear up some of the misconceptions about Dress Codes for the Twenty First Century.  We’ll start with the sublime and go to the ridiculous.