Fashion Rules Tend to Be Personal

With more fashion images, advice and information flowing into our lives than ever before from reality television shows, grocery-store scandal sheets, online authorities and now fashion magazines, it seems preposterous that we still don’t know what to wear.

“What should I wear today?” It’s a daily quandary for nearly everyone living in modern society.

Blame the sartorial confusion on the disappearance of stringent social dress codes that were universally accepted before the counterculture revolution of the 1960s. It was then, historians say, when the rules for what to wear began to disintegrate.

Despite the lack of fashion dress codes, any fashion maven will tell you expectations still exist for attending events and happenings that often specifically call for black-tie attire, country-club casual or formal dress. Church weddings, temple services, some restaurants and private clubs still maintain dress specifications.

Gina Vernaci, vice president of theatricals for Playhouse Square, is a 27-year veteran of the organization and remembers a time when she wore a dress to a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game. “The world has changed, and we have changed; we don’t have an established dress code at the theaters anymore,” Vernaci says.

She adds that the performing arts tend to attract patrons with an affinity toward more traditional and formal dress. In fact, the best seats in the house are called the “dress circle,” a nod to a time when European royalty regularly attended the theater. “It’s called the dress circle, but there’s certainly no dictate,” says Vernaci.

With such a variety of programming at PlayhouseSquare — from rock concerts to children’s shows — there are no rules for dressing the part.

Perhaps that’s the reason that a number of local restaurants with dress codes ranging from “no tank tops or shorts” to “jacket required” declined to talk publicly about their restrictions. Few, it seems, are willing to address dress codes for fear of losing potential customers.

But over at PlayhouseSquare and Severance Hall, there’s no need to be concerned about what to wear. Jeans, shorts, tank tops — all are welcome. (From

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