Women, Fashion and Shopping
November 30, 2002 1:14 PM   Subscribe

Fashion? What Fashion? Does any woman really care about fashion? Or put it another way: "fashion" . Doesn't each woman just shop for herself? For what she likes and looks good on - and to - her? Perhaps the idea of fashion (and the fact that most designers are men) is a man thing. And a gay man thing at that. It's very interesting and welcome but, when it comes to theory (as opposed to praxis), completely beside the point. I find it a pity some feminists (like Jenny Diski and Elaine Showalter) are becoming swayed and hesitant on this.
posted by Schweppes Girl (12 comments total)
Women care, it's just not enough to carry through to creatively build a fashion house. Even Sylvia Plath had Ted Hughes.
posted by the fire you left me at 2:06 PM on November 30, 2002

"That looks good, I'll get one of those for myself." This explains fashion.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 4:37 PM on November 30, 2002

Hmm, no, one more statement is needed: "I'm sick of wearing this, I need something new."

And perhaps also: "I wonder if people will buy these new clothes I've made?"
posted by aeschenkarnos at 4:39 PM on November 30, 2002

Hi Schweppes Girl! Well, as near as I can see, if it's big business, for the most part men still own it. That will take a long time to change. But there seem to be more and more interesting women designers coming down the pike. Quite honestly, I don't care whether men or women design the clothes as long as they design for real bodies and not for thirteen year old waifs.

I really hate shopping now - I got sick to death of it once all the malls and stores became cookie cutter wherever you went. Damn shame - some of our best cities have lost much character with the mallification of the large chains everywhere. Last time I was on Newbury Street in Boston, I could have wept to see so many of the great little boutiques replaced by brands. (Not that I could afford those boutiques anyway!) I never took fashion all that seriously, just as a fun means for self expression. Plus, is there anything more satisfying than finding a real bargain?
posted by madamjujujive at 5:37 PM on November 30, 2002

Give me a black turtleneck and a pair of comfortable jeans and I'm good to go.
posted by konolia at 5:51 PM on November 30, 2002

Hi madamjujujive! My hackles are raised (not that I could care much less) by pseudo-theoretical salivation such as this from the Peter Campbell article (third link):

Versace does not go quite so far and suggests more than he shows. That black dress Elizabeth Hurley wore to a film premiere - slit and safety-pinned up the side and open almost to the waist in front - has its place in a history which includes the dress with its black calyx-like bodice out of which white shoulders flower in John Singer Sargent's portrait Madame X: a dress as famous as the Versace, and more scandalous. The anxiety/hope that a woman may fall out of her frock goes back further still.

Translated: he likes seeing Hurley's tits spilling out of that thing. Why doesn't he just say so then? Why does he have to drag a painting and a painter into it? Much writing about fashion, from otherwise brilliant writers (I am a great fan of both Diski and Showalter) just seems to rationalize looking and feeling good. I'd rather read Vogue, to be honest.
posted by Schweppes Girl at 6:41 PM on November 30, 2002

Much writing about fashion ... just seems to rationalize looking and feeling good.

I want to know why anyone would need to rationalize looking and feeling good.

The quote may come off as trite if you are predisposed to thinking of fashion in such a way, but I thought the "fall out of her frock" line was funny. Such a juvenile desire, driving art for all these years...
posted by botono9 at 9:28 PM on November 30, 2002

The anxiety/hope that a woman may fall out of her frock goes back further still.

I actually read that as a pretty astute naming of something that does drive couture, and rarely becomes overt.
posted by adamgreenfield at 10:59 PM on November 30, 2002

Hey, thirteen-year-old waifs need clothing too.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 7:50 AM on December 2, 2002

I do care about fashion, and I watch runway shows with the same type of interest that I have for contemporary art or music. All of these fields certainly can get over-intellectualized, but that's sometimes part of the fun. And I think that Western society does often need to rationalize feeling good (to itself), as we're still quite caught up in that whole Protestant work ethic and shun frivolity as evidence of a simple mind or a lack of ambition.
posted by teenydreams at 10:05 AM on December 2, 2002

> Then an image slithered into my head of a cupboard - let's
> call it a closet - stuffed with slinky Galliano slips of dresses,
> a handful of witty Chanel suits, a selection of madly
> deconstructed Margielas and Demeulemeesters, a St
> Laurent smoking section, an unworn sprinkling of sparkling
> Versace, an almost invisible beige shimmer of Armani, and
> beneath, all in neat array, row upon row of Blahnik, Miu Miu
> and Jimmy Choo kitten heels.

This babe is a slave. Eighteen months in the reeducation camp where everybody wears mumus (black, rayon, one-size-fits-all.) If when she gets out on work release she decides to wear her mumu to work, school, church and tea-dances, we'll know her reeducation was successful.

> I only had to take one look at them, to see myself arriving
> at my new school with those on my feet, to know and
> feel, gut and spine, head and heart, the shame of
> becoming an instant fashion (and therefore everything
> else) pariah in the cruel girls' world of T-bars, flatties and
> slip-ons. The shoes would stand for my entire character,
> my class, my race, my lack of nous, and for ever after my
> almond-toed peers would deem me a sad case to be
> avoided and sniggered at as I clunked my solitary way
> around the playground.

This is what fashion is about. Anybody, male or female, with any balls at all would say fuk'em, I'll be a loner rather than surrender to such people. Just a little contumacy and shazam, freedom is yours.
posted by jfuller at 10:55 AM on December 2, 2002

I care about clothes, and style, but not "fashion". Fashion to me is the whole "must have these black shoes because the ten pairs I have at home don't have the new heels" attitude, the unwearable things on the runway, the magazines that show $1,000 shorts on perfect models and tell you what you must buy for fall.

I ignore fashion, and pursue style. I hunt through thrift shops and make my own clothes, partly because that's all I can afford to do, but I really do enjoy it. If I want to know if I should wear something I take a long hard look in the mirror. If I see a trend I really like and that suits me I might adopt it, but I don't worry about that usually - fashion is so pluralistic now that anything can look good. I trust my taste and judgment to adjust to the evolution of the prevailing aesthetic and to cue me when something looks too dated and unattractive. I don't worry about what other people think of my clothes - but I get quite a few compliments and that's nice.

Yes, I care a lot about style and clothes. But fashion? I think of it as something esoteric, interesting as spectacle maybe, but something that has nothing to do with me. Fashion is an $800 purse that you bought instead of taking a trip or taking an interesting course. Fashion is people scurrying to stay on top of a turning wheel. Style is putting your clothes on in the morning and not thinking about them again all day - you know you look good, so what's next?
posted by orange swan at 2:04 PM on December 2, 2002

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