See, now to me, that button is in the worst possible spot. The second button literally makes or breaks the shirt. Look at it. It's too high! It's in no man's land. You look like you live with your mother.
These are Jerry's opening words in the pilot for Seinfeld, presumably a "show about nothing." Known at the time for his observational standup, Jerry made a show designed to fill with mundane observations, low-stakes conversations, and the characters who drive them.
In the absence of any greater direction, Seinfeld was able to explore topics that might be considered too boring for other shows. They talk about shirt buttons, laundry, raincoats, crested blazers, cashmere, puffy shirts, suede jackets, sneakers (Jerry seems to wear Nikes exclusively), vintage cabanawear, Armani Suits, and a magic jacket that the women just love. And it ends with the same conversation about the second shirt button repeating itself.
These feel like natural conversations, real conversations. They remind us that the little things in life are perfectly interesting as long as you take the time to appreciate them.
The show saw a resurgence of popularity in recent years, particularly for the style of the four main characters—each of whom dresses in a distinct, characteristic way. There's instagram account chronicling the best outfits from each episode. Jerry's blousey 90s shirts and basketball sneakers are back in vogue. Plenty of memes point out that popular brand Aime Leon Dore is basically just George Costanza's style ethos. And many people are quick to recognize Cosmo Kramer's style reflected, perhaps coincidentally, in the Scott Fraser Collection.
As a New York Jew who grew up in the 90s, I've always been excited to challenge others on Seinfeld trivia. I didn't always appreciate the style, but once I saw the charm in each character's distinct language, it became a wellspring of inspiration.
While hype for the show might not last forever, it will always be important to me. "Dress Code" was never a good name for a blog, so here I am, fixing it, tying it to something that resonates with me, and with the clothing I love to write about. Does "the second button" really make or break the shirt? I don't think so. But I'm loving the conversation.