It’s a South African thing
Though we say ‘must’ more frequently than ‘ought’, the notion of imperative pervades our vocabulary to such an extreme that many a foreigner has taken more than some offence. Others just find it comical. Who knows what aspect(s) of our heritage lead to such fascist phrases as ‘we must go shopping’ peppering our everyday conversations, but certainly South Africans see almost all action as a forceful commission of will.
Such strict dictates of the everyday can certainly be observed in the dress sense imposed on men for all aspects of our lives. As introduced in the Origins post, men’s fashion is very regularized: men’s clothes ought to be structured, blockish and minimalist. And when thinking of dressing to the occasion, we basically ought to wear t-shirts to casual affairs, and button downs to formal events, like the office. Look up from wherever you’re sitting right now, and count the number of gentlemen not wearing one of these two must haves for the male wardrobe.
Of course these forceful forms of communication swing both ways. Beautifully encoded in our deeply South African slang is the ultimate imperative: One ought to question everything. Must we go shopping?
One very definite ought that goes beyond simple imperative in men’s wear is the collar, which sits firmly in my cross hairs of things we ought to reconsider. Would it really be a crime to wear a button down without a collar? Ought we to include something slightly more revolutionary than the Chinese collar in our vocabulary of style? Who can know?
I know, and yes!
I can already hear alarm bells sounding in the editorial offices of fashion magazines world-wide: How would one wear a tie without a collar? How would preppy gents signal their club membership with nothing to pop? What would become of the interfacing industry?
Oh ye of little faith, watch this space