Family 101: You Ain't Dressed For This Affair

Photo by Baim Hanif / Unsplash

I took a bus down to Virginia for my niece's graduation in mid June. My sister was on her way home from work to pick me up and I just finished ironing my suit and dress shirt — it was an elementary school graduation but I still felt inclined to dress up.

My sister walked in and saw my suit hanging to the side.

"You're wearing a suit?" she asked.

"Yea. What's the problem?"

"Nothing. It's not going to be that type of event. Most people don't dress up, so I don't want you to get there and say, 'Why didn't you tell me I didn't have to dress up?' I'm dressing up though!" She laughed and walked off.

Then she walked back in. "We're Haitian we dress up for everything."

I laughed because it was true.

I put my suit on. Navy slim fit, white shirt, no tie, and boat shoes to keep a more casual feel.

Upon Arrival

We arrived, parked the car, and walked inside. I eagerly looked around to see how other men were dressed: polo shirts, cargo shorts, t-shirts, sneakers, baseball caps, Jordans.

My brain kept wondering what was going on. Time passed and I spotted two other men with full suits on. I wanted to yell out and acknowledge them!

The ceremony started, the 5th graders walked in — a lot of them dressed up. Girls in dresses and boys in dress shirts and slacks — I even saw a kid with a full suit on.

My eyes got watery as my niece's name was called onto the stage. Graduating symbolizes growth; it was important and humbling to see her succeed.

The graduation ended, we took photos, hugged, and said our goodbyes. I looked around some more and seeing what family members wore weighed on me. Something seemed off.

I admit I'm conservative and old-fashioned about a lot of things. Although I don't judge people's choice, I still wonder what the impact their style of clothes symbolized.

A Simple Connection

The next morning I was getting ready for a jog and Lupe The Killer shuffled its way into my ears. The line "And you ain't dressed for this affair" came on and everything connected as to why I was bothered yesterday.

Children are impressionable. They spend day after day with us and see us dress in different clothes for different occasions throughout the years. On this one day that is special for them and acknowledges their accomplishments, family members wear the same things they wear to Walmart.

That just seems wrong.

People get new suits and outfits for New Years and for parties, but their children aren't worth getting dressed up for?

It's About Them

Adults forget the day is for the younger generation and by putting on special clothing we enforce the idea that graduation, education, and success is something different and special. We forget that everything we do is being processed in their brain consciously and subconsciously.

What's more upsetting are the parents who make their kids dress up but come completely dressed down. It says, "This day is important for you but not for me."

It doesn't seem right.

I hate suits. And although I feel good in them sometimes, I much rather be dressed like I'm getting ready for a jog — I am usually always itching to jog — but for family and for kids, I'd sit uncomfortably for hours just to let them know this day and every day like it that follows is extremely important.

We should all want to hammer in that message.

Clifford Genece

Clifford Genece