This picture from 1957 shows a family of four dressed for Easter Sunday services followed by dinner at Grandma's house. For weeks before, the family had carefully shopped for new spring outfits. After all, these would be worn every week to church for months to come. "Church clothes" were something every kid had... and you were never without one dress up outfit and a pait of "church shoes."
This week I sat in on a preparation meeting at the local college. Potential interns were getting ready to apply for their first jobs. It was obvious that none of them had "church clothes." It had to be explained that a t-shirt and jeans was not good to wear even when just droppring off a resume. They would have to go out and buy their first suit or at the very least some really nice casual clothes AND shoes to match the look. In a tight job market no one was challenging this advice. Employers were there saying, " Look... if you don't even care enough to dress for the interview why would we even hire you?" One even explained that it costs his company $60,000 to hire and train a new worker and get them up to speed during the first few years in his company.
So, maybe the time to teach our kids about situation specific dress is now. First comes shopping for it, then comes wearing it somewhere like a nice restaurant. Along the way comes the ability to feel at ease in such clothing. Somewhere along the way we can also teach themn to reach out a hand to shake, to look others in the eye, to greet them or to complete a proper introduction. It might make a difference some day in terms of what job they get and how much they earn or how comfortable they feel in social situaitons.