Friday, October 16, 2009

Stand Tall, Like Grace Jones

Fashion, today, is a lot like indie rock music today. Just as no band is content to write a straightforward pop/rock song without ten million dissonant flourishes, very few fashion people can handle looking sharp, crisp and straightforward. Women have always been ashamed of their bodies, and the current lank, pigeon-toed baby deer trend (I guess it's very 90's, too, though) , all jutting legs and bitten lower lips and some fugly outfit that really doesn't look like anything...there's just something so non-commital and passive about all of it!

Though the 80's had its fugliness, it was a time when people looked strong and in charge. The current look is ultra-weak and distinctly unwomanly- and when I say this, I don't mean unwomanly as in "unfeminine" but little-girlish, with no power behind it, no mature adult force. And a lot of these people, who are dressing like this, are adults, with important jobs- important jobs in fashion. I cannot help but being reminded of Susan Faludi's Backlash, during which she drew connections between designers forcing out the woman's professional suit as the look de rigeur and instead introduced the 80's pouf dress and other impracticalities. The logic is: if women had a simple and professional outfit they could feel confident in, and lasted a long time, they would never feel crappy enough to buy new pouf dresses.

If you are a lady, and someone takes a photo of you- first of all, don't wear a big shirt and no pants with chunky shoes intended to make you look gangly and unsteady, as if you have just dropped out of your mother deer, and secondly, do not hunch your shoulders and turn in your toes and put your hand in your mouth like a baby. Stand tall, like Grace Jones. Have confidence.

God, I hate The Sartorialist except for the photos he takes of men in suits. I can't believe he just stands around fashion shows and takes photos of editors and stuff wearing $10,000 designer outfits and then everyone is like, "You have such an eye!" Anyway, the woman above is an editor or something. An editor dressed and posing like a little girl! Remember when I said I hated those poofy short skirts because they were infantile?

Here are some more:

Enough with the rolling up of the baggy pants!

What the hell is this? What is this outfit? What is nice about it?

Here is a fashion look from Lyell. Maybe Lula. All I know is that it's disturbing. The model looks twelve and her shy poses and lame, lank Catholic schoolgirl look really complete things.

Here is another disgusting and infantile trendy look. How could you take someone seriously in this outfit? It's an adult woman wearing a huge shirt and no apparent pants, like a fat kid at a swimming pool. don't forget the huge chunky platform shoes to teeter upon!

Here are some more assorted pics:

And here is Grace Jones (and Marlene Dietrich), showing us how to pose with swagger and dignity, not like a malnourished toddler:


Michelle said...

I totally agree with you about the Sartorialist. I honestly don't see any inherent talent in the guy, not to mention he cheated on his wife & then left her (for another photographer, which everyone in the fashion world seems to find so cute! adultery ftw!). He also comes off as very much of a smarmy asshole to me. ANYWAYS.

I like full skirts, but I feel really weird if they don't stop past mid-thigh if not at the knee. Super poufy short skirts have always seemed very...purposefully reminiscent of little girl's clothing but in a sexual & very disturbing way. I overthink just about everything, though, so it might just me be that gets those connotations.

Lizbit said...

I agree that people trying to look infantile is a bit absurd considering the adult situations many of these girls deal with. Some of these girls wearing girly jumpers and ribbons in their hair are wearing these outfits to go to a club/get drunk/hook up with whoever their sexual preference guides them (sometimes, all at the same time). They are psychologically mutton dressing up as lamb

However, there is a certain charm to people that have the personality to match with their sweet clothing.I'm not saying childish, I'm saying sweet, which is different. Women can be sweet and cute and not look like adult babies, after all.They sure are never photographed in high-fashion magazines. They aren't such attention whores that they need proof of their sweetness.

haha. This is a long roundabout way of me saying I agree that these girls look a bit silly.

Anonymous said...

I think you are contradicting yourself in so many ways with this post. First of all, you have mentioned Kelly Bundy as fashion inspiration, someone whose style should be emulated. Are you really saying that dressing in the sexiest and skimpiest way possible is self empowering? Then you are calling the outfits these woman are wearing little girlish, even though a lot of it is men's clothing. You are also calling the posing weak, is this what you would call strong posing?

A big part of the feminist idea is that women should not dress to please men, these women are wearing horribly ugly, ill fitting sacks and posing in an unattractive way. If anything, these women are putting fashion before appealing to men.

And I know you are fan of 50's dresses, are housewife dresses from the 50's a feminist icon now?

I totally agree with you that the Sartorialist takes pictures of really ugly outfits and that the trend of wearing sacks needs to end, but to judge someone as weak and passive by the clothing they wear, that is not in the feminist spirit.

B. Zedan said...

I just want to say that when I saw this post and shared it around to friends, we were all like, HELL YES!

The photographers and designers and people I know are so sick of seeing people not owning their look. The pigeon-toe, look away, "oh, this old thing?"affectation is tired.

Even if one (dude or lady) wears sweet, girlish clothing, they can/should pose like a queen, not a poseur.

M said...

hi anonymous,

obviously it's problematic to immediately label one person's clothing "feminist" and one not, but my point in this post was that, taken as a trend, this look seems, ultimately, passive and non-committal in a distinctly non-adult way. though they may not be dressing in a traditionally sexy way (though many are showing a lot of skin), in many ways the look IS acommodating to men- and from many of the young, (especially hipstery) guys i have met, they find it very desirable in a way that women definitely don't when it comes to looking at men- when is the last time an indie movie came out with a brash, bold female love interest instead of someone magical, accomodating, fey, and slim? it's all tied together, man!

(and it certainly ties into the fashion world's obsession with youth and this particular look- and i AM willing to argue that the fashion world is a patriarchal one, even if you're on the more avant-garde side.)

as for my beloved kelly bundy, she was a "slut" character, but i admire her because she was mean and funny and quite sharp in many ways (comebacks to bud, for instance) and though she was a "skank", she owned it. i admire kelly bundy and other characters like her for their brashness, boldness, and tackiness- so far from the look described on this post. i am not saying she was a feminist icon, but, despite being dressed to please men, she ultimately appeared far less passive than most "sexy" ladies. i also DO think it's feminist to give these brash, trashy ladies their due- just because women like that are so often dismissed as un-feminist compared to the sweet and "ladylike," and ultimately they contribute to a more rounded idea of what it's like to be a "sexy" woman, evn if it may be in a somewhat misguided way.

as for 50's housewife dresses being "feminist" because i like them, i don't mean to politicize every piece of clothing (though, yeah, i think 50's housewife dresses can and often have been "reclaimed" in a feminist way)- and i was trying to say these women LOOK weak and passive; not that they actually are, but looks are what counts in this context.

obviously clothing has a long and complex history and ties in very much to womens' place in the world, and i think that IS worth analyzing. it is fine you don't agree with everything i say, but i hope at least it makes people think that even people's sack dresses are worth analyzing.

M said...

oh, and as for THAT kelly bundy pic, i find it awesome- i mean, she's wearing a falcon AND snake!

but the bottom line is kelly bundy doesn't apologize, and all the women in this post really look like they are apologizing for taking up space.

Simone said...

Thank you, mary! Best comment rebuttal ever! And yes, I think your final sentence really speaks to the main crux of the issue - that all of these women look like they're apologizing for taking up space. BRILLIANT ANALYSIS.

Anonymous said...

I totally see your point, I just think that you could take any trend from any decade and call it anti-femanist, probably because as you said, the whole fashion industry is patriarchal. I just don't agree that this decades fashion is any less femanist than other decades.

M said...

i don't know, the more i think about that, the more i disagree. while an entire decade is a little too long to classify, i think some "waves" of fashion come from a more feminist place than others- ie, the smart, practical, wide shouldered suits of the 1940s could be called more feminist than the "new look" of bodice-constricting dresses of the 50's that followed the war- stuff like that. i kind of want to do a post about it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that post. The Sartorialist is so overrated. Of course the shots are going to look good if your subject is in $10K worth of well-made clothing. The dude needs to get over himself, too. He's an arrogant piece of shit. HA!

Anonymous said...

Grace Jones is my Idol but besides that...the thing is women just dress how they feel. One can feel just as confident in a babydoll dress as a suit if its worn right! I know I don't feel confident in suits. I hate them personally. I think pieces of suits are ok paired with babydoll dresses! :)

Anonymous said...

Oh and the shoes and accessories are the exclamation point to any outfit!

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