In Grahame’s account of a Victorian childhood, the boys are baffled by the adult penchant for putting on formal clothes and then going to call on people, when they could just as well mess about at home in their old clothes. Clothes as a topic of conversation are also high on the agenda for the aunt when she calls on her aristocratic friends, leaving the boy bewildered that anyone could find so much to say about such a boring subject.

‘It was necessary, no doubt, that grown-up people should dress themselves up and go forth to pay calls. I don’t mean that we saw any sense in the practice. It would have been so much more reasonable to stay at home in your old clothes and play.’

Source: Kenneth Grahame, Dream Days, illus. by Maxfield Parrish (Edin.: Paul Harris Publishing, 1983), p. 106

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