Tag Archives: fashion

SlutWalks

Today, the Washington Post features a piece on a new, grassroots feminist movement,  SlutWalks. These walks have women taking to the streets, wearing as little or as much clothing as they choose to protest sexual assault. Their message: A woman’s clothing is her choice. It does not entice rapists, nor should it be blamed for such.

The movement so far has been successful in terms of garnering attention and gathering followers. In a world where the debate is on whether or not to make school uniforms baggier in order to deter pedophiles, rather than what measures to take to keep such predators away from schools, well, that’s indicative of a serious problem. And that is what SlutWalks is all about. “She’s asking for it” is antiquated and preposterous. Fashion should be fun, not frightening.

The other debate surrounding SlutWalks is the use of the term ‘slut’. Opponents of the movement – or at least how the movement is categorized – claim that by trying to reclaim the world slut, these women are injuring themselves and their cause. Slut does have a negative stigma, one that is culturally common. But I don’t think they’re actually trying to reclaim slut and turn it into something positive. Rather, I think by using the word slut, SlutWalks is cleverly turning the word on its head. First, it’s a great way to get attention – who would willingly call herself a slut? That incites curiosity. Second, it seems that SlutWalks is using the term as a sort of threat to anyone who would dare to call them such, or to go so far as to attempt some sort of assault. Singling out one woman as a slut is degrading, and renders her powerless. But it’s damn near impossible to call thousands of women sluts and expect the same effect. There is strength in numbers, and when women rally around each other, it is much harder for any of them to feel victimized.

Slut is not going to be the new ‘homegirl’ or ‘wifey’ or any other odd nickname. But used in the context SlutWalks, it shows that sexuality can also be strength. That a woman can wear whatever she wants, just because she wants to. And to those that oppose this – well, they’re just stupid. And they’ll have a hell of a time getting a date.

3 Comments

Filed under Talking points

Working what your momma gave you

Vogue, April 2011

Vogue’s April issue, their annual shape issue, features a piece about dressing to emphasize your height – with a short girl talking about her love of flats and oversize clothing, and a tall girl rhapsodizing about how powerful giant heels make her feel. My first reaction was to scoff. This is revolutionary? I’ve been doing just this for years! (I’m short, and I love oversize sweaters, ballet flats and a certain pair of flat motorcycle boots that I would wear every day if I could.) What a way to state the obvious.

Then I thought about it a little more. On the surface, this seems obvious. Wear what you like, screw common convention about ‘figure flattery’. But, then again, maybe not. Most ladymags stress ways to flatter your figure – but not by making the most of what you have. By telling you the best ways to minimize those hips, create a waist, seem taller or smaller or curvier or straighter. Clothes shopping is tough enough without worrying about how to create a body you don’t actually have.

So the obvious isn’t quite so obvious. And occasionally a bit counter intuitive. See, not only am I short, but I’m hipless. Shaped like a 12-year-old boy is perhaps more apt. So when I try on dresses and skirts with shape, I end up with folds of fabric sticking out awkwardly rather than being gorgeously filled in. And that’s frustrating – there’s a lot of things I can’t wear because of my lack of hips. And I sometimes would love to look a different way. But rather than lament my shape, I’ve learned to live with it. And lately, I’ve been gravitating to fuller, higher-waisted skirts. I still get some shape and get to play with volume, but I’m not imagining body parts that I simply don’t have.

Besides, body ideals have swung from one extreme to the next. In the 1500s, being plump was desirable because it meant you were wealthy enough to eat well. The Victorian Age saw waists whittled by corsets and bottoms emphasized by bustles. In the 1920s, the flapper look called for a small bust and narrow hips. In the ’50s, it was Marilyn Monroe. The ’60s revolved around the gamine – Twiggy, Audrey. The ’90s brought Kate Moss and waif-chic. And now, well, the ideal seems to range from model tall and skinny to athletic to curvy. (Though that whole “real women have curves” thing annoys me – since I’m not curvy, where does that leave me? I do not want to add gender anxiety to my daily routine.) So who’s to say what’s ideal?

Though Vogue champions the same handful of models and a lifestyle comprising designer clothes, perfectly-behaved children and access to personal trainers and facialists, this message of embracing the shape and height you were given is definitely enlightened. And definitely something we can all get behind.

1 Comment

Filed under Strike a pose

On seasonless dressing

Elle, November 2010

I was flipping through fashion magazines earlier, as I am wont to do when I’m bored (or any other time), and I noticed something interesting. Though it is most decidedly fall – chocolate turkeys, way-too-early Christmas decorations and all – at least half of the clothes featured at the moment are meant for the beach or some other 80-degree locale. Now don’t get me wrong, I am prone to fantasizing about lying on a beach in the middle of winter as much as the next girl. But this focus on bikinis, pastels and raffia sandals struck me as just a little strange.

Given that the weather is finally cooling down, it would make sense for the focus of the fashion world to be on sweaters, coats and the perfect pair of boots. And it is, to an extent –  do not forget the countless articles exclaiming that you must buy a camel coat for winter or else suffer fashion exile. But besides the coverage of the “new neutrals” (which are most decidedly not new, just a rebranding of a classic), there seems to be little else focusing on what can keep fashionistas both warm and stylish.

The cover of the November Elle features Kate Hudson in a two-tone, pastel lace dress. The background is vaguely sunny and spring-like. But for those of us in the northern hemisphere, spring couldn’t be further away. A glance out my window shows branches shedding red and gold leaves – gorgeous, but apparently out of fashion. Guess Mother Nature didn’t get the memo.

The thing is, the fashion world runs six months ahead of schedule. The fall shows are in February; the spring shows in September. And then there are the transitional shows, pre-fall (in the summer) and resort (late fall). So from a news perspective, the sandals and candy-colored patent leather loafers are showing up right on time. But from a what-should-I-wear-today perspective, it’s a bit confusing.

Though I do like to dress somewhat seasonlessly – a lighter weight skirt with tights, or a pretty tank with a heavier cardigan – the pages and pages (both in magazines and on the web) dedicated to resort collections are overwhelming. Editors are urging us to buy that hot pink clutch now – wear it with fur in the winter, a sarong in the summer! – but hot pink is just not a fall color. No matter how cheerful and Barbie-like it may be. Sure, buy out of season – it’s a great way to get a decent price on a winter coat. But I doubt jeweled sandals are on the top of anyone’s November shopping list. Unless you are lucky enough to jet to Capri every weekend, and in that case, can I come?

In order for fashion magazines to stay relevant, they need to be aware of what is seasonally appropriate and desirable. Sure, it’s fun to see what will be in store for spring and summer, and it’s always entertaining to daydream about touring Rome in a succession of pretty sundresses. But for now, give me things warm, fuzzy and possibly oversized. It’s cold out there, and no number of jeweled sandals can change that.

Leave a comment

Filed under Strike a pose

Why leather shorts are not the best idea for summer

*Or anytime, really.

Clothing these days is all about hybrids. The jegging (jeans + leggings). The sandal-boot. The dressy shorts that apparently work both for a backyard barbecue and a day at the office. And now, leather shorts.

Now, when I hear the phrase leather shorts, the first thing I think of is lederhosen. Knee-length leather shorts worn with suspenders covered in folky embroidery – definitely a statement, though not necessarily a fashionable one. Unless you are celebrating German history, of course. But I don’t think it’s quite what today’s designers are going for.

The leather shorts being shown today range from extremely short and crotch-chafing to pleated, baggier and emanating a certain swishy sound that makes it impossible to sneak up on anyone. (Spies, take note.) The pleats also serve to add extra width to the hips, which no woman wants. (This is also noticeable in the new carrot pants, which are pleated and looser around the hips and then taper down to the ankles. It’s a cross between mom jeans, trousers and adult diapers. Thankfully, no one has made them in leather yet.) Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Strike a pose

What’s wrong with the romper

A romper is a combination of shorts and shirt, a sort of one-piece that looks adorable on babies and toddlers. It is also now, if the runways and shelves at Urban Outfitters are to be believed, an ‘it’ piece for summer. For grown women, not toddlers.

I suppose that whoever conceptualized the romper as a fashion statement had a ’50s pin up-type image in mind, a woman in a romper and wedge-heeled espadrilles, her legs stretching for miles. The idea is summery and carefree. But the reality of the romper is not nearly as glamorous. The often floral printed one pieces can be both blousy and ill-fitting. Camel toe is a common side effect, and the shorts are often an odd length that strikes at the widest part of the thigh, which is never flattering. Basically, the romper makes women either look frumpy or like a two-year-old, neither of which (despite the other current trend of bloomers/briefs instead of pants) is a desired effect. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Strike a pose