Originally Posted by Maureen
Regarding women's fashions: it seems to me that your average Joe on the street knows what he likes, but beyond that, he's clueless (no offense meant). What I mean is, most men like certain styles, and dislike others, but don't follow trends or know what certain styles or silhouettes are called. For them, their interest in fashion goes as far as replying, "That one," when a woman asks, "Which of these looks better?"
The point in the original article is that it is wrong for feminists to blame today's underweight standard on men (i.e., to blame it on that mythical bugaboo, the "patriarchy"), because men are not in power in the fashion industry.
Women are. (Or rather, women, and men who are not attracted to women.)
However, your comments about men's relationship to fashion only confirm the strength
of their ability to critique it. Far from being "clueless," men actually have the clearest vision of all. They are impervious to changes in taste, while slavish devotees of fashion have their perceptions clouded by their subservience to trends.
If something is attractive, it is attractive for all time. Whether some clique of marginal "artistes" or designers call it "in" or "out" is irrelevant. Such assessments do not change its intrinsic beauty (or lack thereof).
Thoreau writes in Walden
The heroic books, even if printed in the character of our mother tongue, will always be in a language dead to degenerate times.
The same is true of all genuine beauty. The greatness of Beethoven's music is a constant, and the degree to which it is appreciated or rejected is a measure of the person or society appraising it, not of the music itself.
Likewise, Shakespeare's writings are a stable reference point of brilliance, and if an individual or society fails to appreciate them, then the fault lies in those readers, not in Shakespeare. The writings themselves are immortally great.
The same applies in fashion. A beautiful style is beautiful forever, whether a tiny group of marginal individuals with fringe tastes dub it "trendy" or "not trendy." Classical cuts, romantic designs, folk attire, frills, ruffles, ribbons, bows, embroidery, and all of the traditional accoutrements of femininity will always be beautiful on women, regardless of whether the fashion world deems them in vogue or not. By contrast, androgynous menswear styles, '60s-inspired "mod" designs, these will always be unattractive on women, whether fashionistas decree them "must haves" or not.
Trends are nothing but illusions, artificial assessments concocted by small cliques of industry insiders trying to devise a way to sell more clothes. But beauty--beauty is forever.
The fact that men don't know fashion terminology is unimportant, because that has nothing to do with genuine aesthetic appraisal. As you state, men instinctively know "which looks better" among outfits, and they are not swayed by the fashion industry's power-brokers. Men have the honest convictions of the boy in "The Emperor's New Clothes," who points out that the king looks ridiculous, when no one else dares to do so.
Women are frequently influenced to dress in absurd attire, just because trends dictate a certain look. But men don't know (or care) about such vicissitudes in acceptability. They truthfully appraise an outfit, and know exactly what is attractive and what is not.
A reader of this forum recently alerted us to an amusing comic strip on this very topic:
- Click here to see it
As the narrator of that strip points out, women are frequently brainwashed into wearing rubbish, and end up looking like alien beings, (and becoming skinny,) just because a few high muck-a-mucks in the industry insist that this is what's "in" for a given season.
But men see past this indoctrination. They know the absurd when they spot it.
If a ludicrous design appears on every magazine cover in the world, that doesn't make it any less unattractive. Men will understand this, while fashion devotees will dutifully obey the anointed "trends," as if those trends were some sort of divinely-ordained instruction manual. They will don the prescribed attire, even if it makes them look horrible.
In fact, far from being clueless, men are the most clued-in when it comes to fashion, precisely because they are not under its spell, while those who follow fashion to the letter are like sheep--and worse than that, because they are sheep of their own choosing, willingly subordinating their own instincts to the "law" that is handed down to them.
Of two things, one may be sure:
1. If men (men who are attracted to women) actually did hold the reins of power over culture (as they are said to do, but in fact, do not), then the ideal of feminine beauty would still be full-figured, as it was in centuries past when men did hold sway over the culture.
2. If men (men who are attracted to women) were influential in the fashion industry, then fashion would be infinitely more attractive, because men would not be interested in making ridiculous artistic "statements" and thrusting them on women, as if the wearers were animated clothes-hangers. Instead, men would have only one goal in mind: to make women look as beautiful as possible (for their own pleasure, to be sure--but in the process, fashion would be far more woman-friendly than it has been in over a century).
Northwest model Christeen Smith, exhibiting every gorgeous curve of her figure, in a beautiful feminine dress.
- Timeless Style: The New Femininity