I remember getting lit up one time by a reader in the Facebook Group about wearing a Harvard sweatshirt when I didn’t go to Harvard. And in his profile pic,the guy was wearing a Yankee cap.
I used to think it was a measure of intelligence to be able to hold both sides of an argument in one’s head. Having spent some time managing my own head, I now see it as a matter of emotional evolution in equal parts to intelligence. It takes some consistent positioning to not over attach one’s self to one’s own thoughts and positions. Not saying that I am good at it, in fact, I will say it – I am not good at it – but as a matter of exercise I do try to hold both sides of any position in my head. Then I pick which one I think lines up best with my own particular guardrails, and try to present that position in the clear context that there are other schools of thought about it.
My daughter is 14 years old and has an Ivy Hoodie collection in her closet. She’s bright but she is not Alia Sabur. (That’s a seriously in-the-weeds reference, so there’s a link). She has not attended any of those universities and for all I know she won’t. But they are aspirational, so she wears them. That’s not inauthentic, it is respectful.
Which is not to say that you would call out a 14 year old girl in a Brown sweatshirt. I don’t think you would. But then, why would you call out a 50 year old man? Is there a Sell Buy date on aspirations? Does respect get stale?
Holding both sides of the argument becomes a mental bull ride when it is the same people who say that clothes don’t make any value statement who then say yeah-but-you-can’t-wear-that. If clothes aren’t value oriented, why can’t I? Why can’t you? And I get tossed off the bull when it is people who say they don’t respond to or care about packaging who then write that if you didn’t go to Columbia you can’t wear Lion’s boxers. Ok. You CAN’T wear Lion’s boxers, but not because you didn’t go. If packaging doesn’t impact you, why do you respond to what I have on?
If I WERE going to hold the other side of the argument in my head, I would say, “Look, the problem is that wearing a Harvard sweatshirt implies that you went to Harvard.” I dunno, Yankee cap, I can tell you I NEVER thought you played pro ball. Interpreting the message of anything is in its largest part based on what headspace you are bringing to the interpretation. So it is well worth a think to consider why you would draw that conclusion about Harvard but not about the Yankees. Is it because YOU didn’t go to Harvard, and you are bringing that whole I-underachieved stigma with you to the party? Further, why do you care that someone is implying that they went to Harvard by wearing a sweatshirt? Let them.
Maybe they think the most aggressive pursuit of intellectual development is something that should be billboarded. I mean, if you think that, wear a Columbia sweatshirt. But you take my point.
I have a buddy who used to work for the highway department and he had no children. He was a good guy though, and a really good racquetball player (racquetball is the large print of racquet sports but he was very good at it so I thought I should throw that in). Because he had no children, and those of you with children can attest to this, his level of discretionary income was at a higher mark than some of his peers. We used to drink at the same pub, and one of the servers there had a horrible story, she was a very very bright girl but she had a horrible story, and wanted to go to college (SUNY – State University of New York, which is an incredibly affordable path to higher education, much recommended). But she could not afford SUNY. So a bunch of us committed to putting tuition together for her for four years. My friend agreed to match whatever we were all throwing in. And he did. She (the former server) is now an attorney. To celebrate her college graduation, she bought my friend a sweatshirt from the SUNY she attended. He wore that shirt every day he could.
Is he a tool for implying that he went to college? Or should you perhaps revisit why you get that bothered by it?
One of the values that attracts me to the Ivy aesthetic is the dogged pursuit of excellence in everything, and the humility employed when that excellence is recognized. It is not Ivy to resent someone who is wearing something they didn’t earn. It is Ivy to live within your own accomplishments.
I know what you are gonna say. Ok, but regimental ties. That’s out of line. How do I know you are gonna say that? Because you have. Some of you, anyway. And yes, it is true that I did not serve. And it is in all likelihood true that you did not either. But go up three paragraphs. Perhaps I am communicating respect for the value system the props up that regiment. And appreciation of it. Read that bit about resenting implication again, see if it resonates.
So why can’t I wear a Purple Heart even though I was never injured in combat? Because a medal has no other message other than a symbol of personal accomplishment or sacrifice. It means nothing else. That’s why.
I for one think it would be great if everybody wore a Dartmouth hoodie on weekends, and a repp tie during the week. Rather than worry about being insulted or what the kids are doing to my traditions, perhaps it is more productive to cheer the message and get myself out of the way.