Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Form and function

Now before you think this is another post on the cardigans, nope, well, sort of nope. I was reading the latest and greatest edition of Susi's KnobNots and she had a small paragraph at the bottom that went like this:

"In Parting........

Someone I know used to wear french heels in the dog show ring. She groomed in these shoes, ran in them, knelt in them, and as the day follows night, routinely fell in them. Naturally, we always assumed her heels were to blame for some spectacular splats. In time, skinned knees and twisted ankles trumped stylishness and she took to wearing sensible flats. But when her epic falls continued, we came to decide that the woman was a klutz
I, myself, rarely fall. Not on the ski slopes, not on icy sidewalks, and not in the dog show ring My American-Indian name, however, could be "She Who Walks Into Walls, Tables And People." So intent am I on what I'm doing at any given moment (besides walking, that is) that walls and other immovable objects jump in front of me out of nowhere and account for the bruises I later wonder how I got. I was once so intent on my dog while showing him that I walked full bore into a tent pole, tripped over the rope attached to it, bounced off a grooming table and resumed my place in the ring only because I ricocheted off the judge. This prompted the humorless judge to ask if I was blind. Well hardly, I thought to myself. I'd hit the damn thing, hadn't I?
Getting back to French Heel Woman, I will say that despite the wholly impractical nature of her footwear, she still brought elegance into the ring, and I miss that. So few people have real style anymore. While it's not practical to harken back to the days when ladies wore gloves and men wore hats, I am "up to here" with low rider pants, "hoodies" worn in July and an overall attitude that when in doubt about what to wear, wear sweats because they're comfortable.

I'm guilty, too. My "uniform" is a pair of blue jeans. I dress them up with tweed jackets, or dress them down with Ugh boots and a fleece top. But they are, nonetheless, blue jeans. Call me old fashioned, but this year I'm going to try to do better.

KnobNots "

If you want to enjoy more of Susi, join Showdogs-L or subscribe to her monthly column or go to her website at KnobNots.com

So getting to the point, when I was first introduced to showing dogs, I was told there was a certain pattern of dress and decorum to follow. First, gentlemen wear coats, ties and slacks. Look as professional as you can and no, you may not take off your coat, unless the judge does. For ladies, skirts, nice top or even a nice suit. Again, wear something professional looking.

These days, it has become more appropriate for ladies to wear a nice set of slacks-weather or breed might dictate a change in attire. Not an issue with that at all, as long as it looks the part. Or GSD people, wear snazzy short sets and tennis shoes. With all the running they do, they need to be comfortable and have one clothes that don't restrict their movement. Kind of funny, reading Susi's comments above, there used to be some sort of elegance in showing. Look back 50 or 60 years and see the women in their furs, hats and gloves. I think as society has relaxed, we have taken that to the extreme. Like Susi, I have seen more and more denim, dressed up with a jacket or sweater. I see grungy old shoes(I too am at fault for that one, but it's usually because I am in such a hurry, I forget to change out of the tennis or pink clogs). A pair of knit lounge pants or ill fitting clothes.

Professional, that's the term that I had drilled into my head. We aren't a bunch of backwoods bumpkins just out for a good ol'time and bringing some of our hounds out for a romp. We are serious people, who take our dogs and the breeding, raising and training of them very seriously. I guess the best way to say it, is we walk into a ring with ill mannered, slinking dogs, are gruff, rough around the edges, dressed like we are heading out to the woods after the show and don't give the judge an impression of being prepared and at our best, then what are we saying about ourselves? Our dogs? or what impression are we giving to the show viewing public.

So for this year I challenge you to look the part. Care about what you wear, what impression you give to the judge and above all what impression you give to the person ring side, viewing our hobby for the first time. And, make sure that your dogs act the part too. Goodness, the lack of or lack of care taken by some exhibitors is unreal. If you are going to enter the ring, make sure the dog looks like it should be in the ring. Not just pulled out of it's kennel and thrown in the vehicle and go to the show.

These days it's so easy to not spend a fortune. I love the consignment stores in my area. I've gotten some awesome suits for pennies. I think my dear Randy gets most of his pieces at Goodwill! And with growing kids, I know it's a pain to continually get new outfits as they grow a size between shows. But we manage with out breaking the bank.

Here's to Rus, Kim, Meredith, Emily, Ferris, Wanda and Garrett. I'll add in Alec too as he is usually looking pretty sharp, but he got a hard time about forgetting his good shoes on the first day of the last show. Heck, I'm going to add in Sherilyn, who looks the part outside the ring but we can't drag her in the ring if her life depended on it! Seriously folks, look the part! Form and function, it's not just about our dogs, it's about ourselves.

Later gators.....


Kathy and Kim Gibson said...

Here Here!

When I was taking my show class, the last class we were expected to come dressed to show and the dog groomed to show. One woman showed up and looked around and said, "oops I forgot the assignment." The instructor's comment back was, I wonder if you will leave your show clothes and grooming suppies at home next weekend. No fanfare but point taken. kbg

Sherilyn said...

Great post! I've seen just about everything out there lately. I'm still guilty of wearing jeans once in a while, especially when it's really cold and I know there is no chance I will have to go in the ring, but usually I try to be dressed, just in case I have to go in for the "reserve queen". Our Caridgan Mentor has drilled that into my head (thanks Teddy!), so I do try. :) Rus likes to dress for the dog shows, and since he has to compete with SO many women and their bright suits, he challenges me to find those bright as the sun but tasteful jackets, so he doesn't get lost in the shuffle. He did tell me NO when I pointed out a nice purple velvet jacket on ebay. hehe Spoiled sport!!

As for the dogs, I groom whether they are the only entry, or competing against 20, 30 or 100 other dogs! That's been drilled into my head, too, and for us, it's a matter of pride. I want the judge and others to see my dogs looking their best. Now, they might have blown all their coat at the last minute (thanks Emmy! LOL), as she has a habit of losing every stitch of clothes in 1 day, usually the day before the show (hmmmm...Nationals in her string bikini?), but I fluffed and puffed and chalked, thinking...the judge can at least see structure better this way! ;)

Anyway...great post, and a great challenge...make yourself, and your dog, look its best out there!

Hugs to all!

Anonymous said...

We have as a society have collectively given up so much with out
so much as a fight. Look at the depression ere men in a soup line.
Do you see hoodies, t-shirts, and flip flops? Absolutely not. You will see men in suites,
ties, and hats. We've given up on many practical forms of etiquette. We call
everyone by their first name instead of Mrs, Miss, Ms. Mrs, or Sir.
In many ways have eroded our authority in society which has led to other problems
such as disrespect for each other. Blame it on 1972, ourselves, or what every you
want. Form and function is about ourselves.

Traci said...

I always get compliments at work when I wear my "dog show clothes". "Why are you all dressed up?" they ask... "oh these are my dog show clothes", I reply. "Wow, you have to dress that nice?"

Now mind you.. Im one of those ladies who wears slacks in the ring if I can... I've never been super comfortable in a skirt, and as the extra weight has crept on over the years, it's even worse. I agree however.... we've become lazy I think.

I will take you up on your challenge. My next shows are the Orange Empire shows, and the Southern CA Specialty starting on the 23rd. I will make sure that I "look the part". And if I trip on something as I'm worried about "looking the part", I'll secretly curse at you in my head as I laugh and get back up off the floor ;-) (yep, that's me... the perpetual klutz!)

Thanks for the great post Cindy (as always!!)