Modern Dress

The proverbial visitor from Mars—or perhaps I should say Neptune, since the only intelligent life known to exist on Mars today is robotic, crawling in and out of craters as it frenziedly snaps digital photographs like an ordinary terrestrial tourist—anyhow, the proverbial visitor from outer space would never guess from visiting Earth’s Western and Westernizing cultures that Westerners are the wealthiest and most sexed-up people in the history of the human race.  Never guess, I mean, from their clothing, as well as from other aspects of their outward appearance.

Oversexed and undressed have a certain logical connection with each other.  Yet varying degrees of nudity, except at Malibu beach and along the Riviera, are probably not what would most impress the intergalactically traveled Neptunian upon his first contact with Western society.  More likely he would be struck by the ubiquitous state of underdress, aimed less at immodesty than at a calculated slovenliness.  How could the brilliant psychologist, the most learned sociologist, possibly explain for him how people who devote 90 percent of their attention to looking good, smelling good, and feeling good to members of the opposite sex, and have the financial resources to do it, are satisfied every morning to climb into the same drab, dreary, sexless uniform they have worn every day (Sundays included) for the past weeks and months—blue jeans, message T-shirt, running...

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