Monday, September 26, 2016

Slaves to Fashion

Well, I made it to and through the wedding. I had a good time, but I’m telling you, getting there was not half the fun. On the trip down I made a couple wrong turns and then ran smack into Friday-afternoon Philly traffic, so a drive that should have taken roughly two hours ended up taking four. Good thing I left the house early. As a test I took the same route back, only this time there was no traffic and I knew where I was going. Time elapsed: a little over two and a half hours. Sure, I could have taken the turnpike, but I’d rather take the scenic route and not pay tolls. Though it turned out a lot more scenic than I could have done with. Sure hope my other nephew elopes.

But that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about clothes. I ended up wearing the dressy top with a pair of decent slacks. My aunt was there with a friend of hers. Both of them wore slacks. In addition, the friend and I both wore flat shoes. Everyone else had a dress on, but so what. We’re over 50. Screw fashion, we’re gonna be comfy. Besides, women over 50 don’t matter in our youth-obsessed society, so nobody gives a crap what we wear. I know my feet didn’t hurt at the end of the night, and I could sit without worrying whether or not anything was on display. That’s all I care about.

Best of all, I only paid $2 for the top, and another $2 for the knee-high pantyhose. The rest was leftover office wear I had in the closet. I didn’t pay a bundle for some dress I’ll probably never wear again, which was my intention.

The bride did have a lovely wedding gown, and I’m sure she paid handsomely for it. Ditto for the bridesmaids. They might be able to wear their dresses to another venue, though I can’t think of one, unless one of them gets invited to the Oscars or something. I doubt if those dresses came cheap, either. They’ll probably sit in the closet now, unless or until the bridesmaids donate them to Goodwill for use as a prom dress. What other function can you wear a bridesmaid dress to? You can’t even wear it to another wedding.

The men, in contrast, simply rent a tux. They don’t give a damn how many sweaty guys wore it before they did. Women, for some reason, aren’t given the option of renting clothes for special occasions. They’re compelled to buy an expensive dress they’ll no doubt never wear again. Does anyone else see a double standard here? A very costly one?

It’s been proven that clothing, grooming products, haircuts—anything having to do with appearance—costs more for women than it does for men, even if it’s performing the same function. On top of that, fashions change with the seasons because clothing designers and manufacturers want to make a living too. Let me rephrase that. Women’s fashions change. Men’s clothing may offer minor changes here and there, but on the whole they can get by day after day with a few shirts, some slacks, and a sports jacket. A woman builds a nice, functional wardrobe and then all of a sudden her dresses are pronounced too long/short and her slacks are too roomy/tight and her blouses have the wrong kind of sleeves. She has to buy a whole new set of clothing—at prices higher than what a man pays—whether she wants to or not.

Here’s a true-life adventure from several years ago. I was about to start yet another office job. I decided to get a new skirt to kick off my new employment. Guess again. That was the year skorts were in. A pair of shorts disguised as a skirt. Nice, but I didn’t want a skort. I wanted a skirt. You think I could find one? Not a chance. Nobody was selling skirts. One of the most basic items in a woman’s wardrobe and they were nowhere to be found. It was buy a skort or go naked.

So I went to “Bloomingdale’s” (my mother’s name for Goodwill) and found exactly what I wanted, at a fraction of the price. So there.

The following year skirts were back on the racks. You couldn’t find a skort to save your life. Not that I cared, since by then I wasn’t at that job any more. But how many thousands of women were stuck with unwearable skorts in their closet, because the fashion changed and then changed back again?

Who decides these things? And why can’t we kill them?

If you think this is bad, pity the poor moms trying to find decent outfits for their pre-teen daughters, and the only thing available in the stores are what’s generally referred to as “slut clothes.” Why, exactly, does a six-year-old need to bare her midrift? Or own a T-shirt that says “Sexy Beast”? Yet the mothers complain they can’t find age-appropriate alternatives. But this is what sells, cry the store owners. Of course it’s selling. It’s the only thing you’re making available. Since public nudity is frowned upon in the United States, we’re stuck with whatever you offer us. A vicious circle, indeed.

I think the Amish still make their own clothes. I know we’ve got a lot of fabric stores in my neck of the woods. Their fashions don’t change much from year to year. Or century to century, for that matter. Or we could go the Madonna route. She dressed herself from thrift stores because she couldn’t afford new stuff. Then she got famous and started setting trends. Imagine if women all started dressing themselves from second-hand stores. Would used clothing prices go up?

Not that this really affects me any more. I’ve hit the age where comfort trumps appearance, and fashion can take a flying leap. But hey, if anybody sees a skort on the racks anywhere, let me know. I don’t even see those in thrift stores. I’d love to know what happened to them.

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