Critics of the Malibu lifestyle complain that we have no dress code. Even such erudite Malibu historians as my friends and colleagues Judge John Merrick, Ron Rindge and Tom Doyle (whose pencils I am not worthy to sharpen) are unaware of my exclusive knowledge of Juan Cabrillo’s declaration of a dress code the day he discovered Malibu. It was a very, very hot day in 1542 when Captain Cabrillo came ashore. He saw that the Indians were naked, but cool. He was clothed in armor plate, and hot. He drew his sword and gave his first order on this historic day. “Get me out of these _____ hot tin stripes.” His aides obliged him at once as they preferred having their heads on to having them off.
Cabrillo felt content as he strolled the beach in his monogrammed conquistador underwear. He was comfortable, and he had discovered the site of the future first movie colony in America, assuring himself a place in history or at least on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Singing to himself and composing a catchy little lyric, “Let the Uniform Fit the Clime,” he thus established a basic dress code, never dreaming that 200 years later a couple of Irish playwrights (sic) would steal his melody. Some persons question my research on Cabrillo. At my age, I don’t research, I recall.
Recently I ran afoul of current dress codes when I was refused service at a good Malibu restaurant. I was clad in my best Brooks Brothers style. “We don’t serve men wearing jackets and ties,” the hostess explained, “but you do look nice. My grandfather wore Smith Brothers, too.” I looked past her into the dining room where I saw male guests in T shirts and baggy shorts and females in tight, low-cut, hip-hugging faded jeans which conspired with loose blouses to provide double cleavage, front and back. Yet everyone stared at me! I suddenly realized that I was out of step. I muttered some words of thanks to the hostess, backing out as you would in the presence of Queen Elizabeth. I ate in solitude at home. The Brooks Brothers are now back in the closet as events showed how far behind I was in relation to the national sloppy sartorial sweepstakes. Tomorrow I start shopping for Birkenstocks.
Malibuites do not dress up to dine out. Malibuites dress up for funerals. Suits, ties and fine dresses suddenly appear on such somber occasions. At the 85th birthday party for a friend of mine, some guests came looking like they hadn’t changed clothes after cleaning out their garages. At his memorial service a year later, the same persons were so well dressed, I thought we had some crashers, but all passed the security check. The rule: if the subject is alive, go casual, if subject is deceased, spruce up.
Dressing for church is not what it once was. Some reasonably affluent people come wearing stuff like we used to bring in for the rummage sale. The old refrain, “I don’t have a thing to wear” is now “I can wear anything.” So be it. It’s good to be comfortable with God and I’m sure He doesn’t care. After all, He starts us all off stark naked.
Yes, Virginia, there is a dress code in Malibu, confused as it may be. Let the uniform fit the climate, both physical and social. People are dying to preserve it. But don’t push it. One’s turn will come soon enough.