Build casinos and they will come ... in sweat suits

October 20, 2005|By KEVIN COWHERD

LET'S BEGIN WITH THIS basic fact of modern life: A lot of people dress like slobs.

This, of course, is news to absolutely no one. But now I'll tell you where you can find the absolutely worst-dressed people in the entire world.

No, it's not on a plane, although God knows people dress nicer to tar their driveways than they do to fly anymore.

And it's not in the press box at any major sporting event, where sportswriters tend to look as if they dressed in the dark.

No, if you want to see the worst-dressed people in the whole world, go to a casino.

You people who have been to Atlantic City or Dover Downs in Delaware or the Charles Town Races & Slots in West Virginia, you know what I'm talking about here.

Casinos are where fashion goes to die. And it's a slow, agonizing death, too.

In fact, if you want to characterize the general style of dress at any casino, it could best be described as: Sweat Suit Heaven.

And this fondness for sweat suits cuts across all racial, gender and socioeconomic lines.

White people, black people, Asian people, the rich, little old ladies on fixed incomes squeezing their last couple of silver dollars - they all wear sweat suits.

And all kinds of sweat suits, too.

Nylon sweat suits.

Vinyl sweat suits.

Cotton-polyester sweat suits.

Acrylic sweat suits.

Then there's everyone's favorite: velour sweat suits, generally in a color so garish (hot pink, majestic purple, Robin Hood green) it can cause migraines.

If it wasn't for all the noise and flashing lights and cigarette smoke, you'd think you were at a track meet with all the sweat suits.

(Speaking of fashion disasters, I see where the NBA will now require players to wear "business casual" attire when representing their teams off the court. And this isn't going over real well with the players.

(Gee, I wonder why? Here you have a league made up of super-rich athletes, many of whom favor flashy hip-hop styles and lots of bling. And now they have to dress like it's their first day on the job with State Farm Insurance?)

But getting back to casinos, this is something the state of Maryland better consider the next time the idea of building slots palaces comes up.

Build these things and you're going to be attracting a lot of horribly dressed people to this state.

Is this really something we want?

Sure, it might give a boost to the economy - at least temporarily.

But is it worth it to have this type of fashion riff-raff mingling with the decent citizens of the Free State and turning us into Velour Land?

Now maybe you think I'm exaggerating here.

Maybe you've never been to a casino, and you're thinking: Oh, c'mon, how bad can they dress in there?

Plenty bad.

Let's trot out some cold, hard statistics, shall we? Well, one cold, hard stat, anyway.

The last time I was in Atlantic City, I happened to walk into the wonderfully decadent Trump Taj Mahal with a busload of senior citizens from Philadelphia, and the sweat suit count was off the charts.

And I mean that literally. It was such an amazing sight that I actually stood there and counted the number of people in sweat suits, which was 27.

And that was just from one bus!

Do you know how many buses pull up to the casinos each day? Dozens and dozens of them, that's for sure.

any event, while I was doing this counting, I was wearing a polo shirt and khaki pants, and I can't tell you how out of place I felt.

Actually, if you're wearing a nice polo shirt and Dockers in a casino, that's like dressing up.

Really. That's like wearing a tux or an evening gown.

You show up in a casino with a nice shirt and nice pair of slacks, people look at you and think: Look at Mr. Big Shot.

Where does he think he is, the Waldorf-Astoria?

He's too good to wear a sweat suit?

All I'm saying is, think long and hard if a slots bill ever goes to referendum here in Maryland.

Think about the terrible forces you'll be unleashing with a yes vote.

Think about standing next to a pudgy man in a beige Nike sweat suit pumping coins from a plastic bucket into a gleaming one-armed bandit.

And ask yourself: Is this the kind of future I want?

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