A while ago I spent an evening flipping in and out of a B-grade mini-series on life in the early 1920s. It was the time of transition between the Victorian era and the modern Industrial era. The shift from horses to cars, from provincialism to nationalism, from rural to urban living (for the rich), from hooped skirts to the sleek flappers (The term “flapper”, which became common slang in the 1920s, referred to a “new breed” of young women who wore short skirts, bobbed their hair and flaunted their disdain for what was then considered “decent” behavior. The typical flapper was unafraid to wear cosmetics or to be seen smoking or drinking alcoholic beverages in public – from Wikipedia), from top hats and cravats to suits and ties.
It was a fascinating look at the times of transition, following one man and his family from mid 1800s to the 1930s. One of the interesting things for me was the clothes people wore – epecially the men. A question sprung to mind: who was the last man to get up in the morning, go to his wardrobe and decide to put on pantaloons?
(A quick Internet search led me to the conclusion that my question was a good one, but about a century out of date – Pantaloons were first introduced around 1800 and were ankle length. Pantaloons were generally worn until the middle of the nineteenth century and replaced breeches for formal wear. They fitted closely, like tights. Until 1817, the pantaloons were calf length, and then, they extended to the ankle with a side slit which buttoned. They did not survive the 1830′s). Still a good question – along the lines of “who was the last person to use a slide rule “for real” (as my 5 year old daughter would say)? Or who wore the last Pirate’s outfit (not to a fancy dress mind you)?
Then, sitting in church recently, the old visiting preacher was the only man in the building wearing a tie – a fact he pointed out, saying “the tie manufacturers of this country will be going out of business because of you”. Well, actually, yes, they will be. Along with a whole lot of industries who aren’t keeping up with times. I wonder who will be the last man to wear a tie? It will be a few years from now, of course, but it will happen (probably in my lifetime).
What’s the point of this post? Who knows? They were just great questions, I thought. We each need to look at our organisations with objective eyes and ask, “when will the last person use this?”