Wednesday, June 25, 2008

911 Fashion Emergency--Or Not Really?

I have noticed something lately that has given me pause for consideration. Fashion seems to have become a bit sexist, and here is why I am considering this notion. When we are at the movies or at a restaurant and observe a young couple (obviously on a date) the female is most always dressed in a cute skirt, pretty top, her hair is styled with obvious attention to makeup and accessories; some even look as if they have stepped off the pages of a fashion magazine. Subsequently, our critical eye views the male counterpart who usually is adorned with a baseball cap, an old t-shirt, a pair of shorts in need of attention, and flip-flops.

I am not sure what this means, but the couple appears terribly mismatched. Don’t get me wrong, I know “clothes does not the man make”, but why should the girl be expected to take pride in her appearance if her counterpart could care less. Maybe I am missing it all together. Perhaps in these relationships the male is so secure that he doesn’t feel the need to pay attention to his appearance; but if this is the case, then why does the girl feel the call to appear fashionable? Does this mean she is insecure?

Now, I was raised with boys and raised three (working on four more), so I decided to take a look around my own home for evidence of such fashion bigotry and sure enough—in strolls Chad’s girlfriend with the cutest top and Bermuda shorts for their day out. Chad enters with gym shorts, a plain colored t-shirt, and baseball cap. This fashion dilemma exists, even in my own home.

All this week, we have been watching old episodes of “Family Affair”. Our society sure has traveled far from the social dress “norm” of the 1960’s. It isn’t that I think men should have to wear a suit and women an evening dress to go out on the town, but it does seem the pendulum has made a huge swing into a somewhat laissez faire attitude about dress, not to mention this gender inequity between acceptable attire for young men and women.

Here is my quandary; I am having difficulty figuring out if this matters. Is it really a matter of sexism or is it simply a matter of societal customs changing over time? What do you think?


Evan and Julia said...

silly, Marsha, it's always sexism! ha ha! just kidding. Although this is an interesting observation. How far we've come in the evolutionary path, when males are no longer the ones who must vye for the female's attention. They simply assume they're going to get some? Or they are simply becoming the human counterpart to the queen bee's drones? ;)

Anonymous said...

evan and julia's comment is interesting and an aspect I had not considered.

But that's because I'm a practical Virgo type. My own thought is that, for some reason - sexism maybe? - females appear to be more susceptible to the great "marketing machine". I don't take much of an interest in these things, but I'm not blind either. Look at all those glossy magazines at the grocery store check-out. Then there's the TV ads. Young people are impressionable and unless they've been raised by a parent who fosters critical thinking skills, they will fall into the peer pressure trap and take what the ad purveyors say to heart. They're willingly buying into an "image".

For the guys, it's likely that societal expectations have probably changed - or relaxed - and so jeans, t-shirt and running shoes have devolved into shorts, t-shirts and flip flops?

This is an interesting observation you've made Marsha and the question posed about the deeper implications of what we see on the surface.

Lisa said...

I LOVED Family Affair--or Buffy and Jodie as I called it.

I do think your observations are correct. The question is, who are the girls dressing for? I don't believe it's for the boys, since boys obviously don't care. I think girls dress for each other more than anything.

Marsha said...

Interesting view points--Lisa, I think you are totally on target that girls don't necessarily "dress" for the guy--but more for the appearance they make to the other girls.

After talking with Chad about this topic at lunch today, he said it's "just the way it is"--well, heck if I had only known that I could have saved some brain cells for sure.

One thing Kent and I noticed is that folks around our age tend to dress more alike. If the women is dressed up, the men usually are as well--if the women take little care with appearance, neither do their counterparts.

This topic has more caveats than I thought.

Shelly said...


I think we gauge our value by how we think we look...guys don't seem to do that....maybe we are more vain and insecure?

Being a single woman again has made me look at my own appearance again and wonder how I measure up.

When I was married, I didn't worry so much about that but I did always want to look nice for Brian. Not because I felt like I had to but because I wanted to.

Good questions...

Tanja said...

Marsha, great post. I had made that observation too, it's very strange. And you are right, people our age tend to dress more alike.
I love a man that knows how to dress well, and who makes an effort to look nice for me.
My daughters prefer the t-shirt and flipflop guys.

Hmm.... I have to think more about this.


Anonymous said...

My only criteria for clothing is that it not mke me look pudgy.

But I think the mismatch in young couple's clothing speaks to their age. Younger women are just more insecure about their looks and their relationships and it shows outwardly.

I think it is a gender thing but the sexism comes in that women of all ages are expected to maintain their physical appearance whereas men are allowed to age and be comfortable. JMO.