3.13.2012

myself, i dress for ronald.


first crack at the orange stripey clio splitsies fabric.  french seamed and meant for capri harem pants.  

do the math's extremely intriguing and thought provoking post on how women dress got me, well, thinking.  it's a little too intellectual for me to comprehend fully at the moment, i'll admit.  do you ever go through periods of not really being able to concentrate on and understand the issue at hand?  i don't know what's up, it's not like i'm in my luteal phase.  perhaps all the working with fabric and not actually engaging in real live conversation with people deadens the philosophizin skillz.  i'll remedy that over the next few days, our dance card is filling up.  and then i'll read this excellent post again.  

but for now i can latch on to one point of ethan's thoughts:

UPDATE: please read ethan's shout out in the comments following this post, our dialogue has prompted a rewrite which i've reposted below, original text still included.  if this was a bad lead in the front man's eyes, this was a TOTAL MASSACRE of backing vocals on my part.  if i didn't make it clear: ethan is all kinds of awesome, and even though i understood exactly where he was coming from, he makes it crystalline in the update.

here's ethan, he's left the original text X-ed out.

"I’ve been wondering for years about something in our commonplace culture that encourages women to please men many times over before pleasing themselves.  Everywhere I look American women wax, buff, dress skimpily and strut, offering transient enjoyment and asking for transient approval.  (UPDATE:  This was a bad lead.  I should have made it clear that I'm talking only about a very specific style, not female beauty and adornment in general.  The topic of Levy's book is raunch culture, the idolization of porn and celebration of stripper-chic.  Oonaballoona and team have called me out on this!  I suspect that many of these women are talented fashion designers like Oonaballona herself:  in no way did I mean to suggest that intelligence and looking good are antipodes.  I am following Levy in lamenting a rising tide in American culture that glamorizes the sex industry and pressures women to appear sexually available.  Don't take my word for it, just read the book.)
Traveling home yesterday from Sea-Tac to JFK I witnessed several thongs as low-cut jeans rode down.  It’s kind of great, for me and other susceptible heterosexual males, anyway...but there’s a hollow note, a chime in the symphony that asks, “What is really going on here?  Aren’t all these provocative bodies also supposed to house a brain that is my potential intellectual equal, if not my superior?”

really you have got to go read this post.  i wish he would turn comments on because i'd love to hear what peeps are thinking about this.  go have a look... then come back and tell me what you think about it to tide me over till i get my comprehensive thought back.   (continue update: i guess i turned the comments on for him here.  um, you're welcome?  and, update, c'est fini.)

i do agree about the whole transient bit.  for years, without ruggy asking me to, i dressed for his approval.  i knew what colors, cut, and fit he liked, and i turned down my clashing.  this was stupid and unnecessary, but even if ruggy didn't expect it, we're trained in a society that expects it.  hard to rewire that, it still gets me sometimes.  

that's not news, we all experience that in some form-- jobs, school, family... but what i wonder is: specifically as sewists who can make anything you might desire to put on your gorgeous bods, who do YOU dress for? because as i get better at sewing, i look at women with thongs giving a jolly wave to everyone behind them, at ladies with peplums and skinny jeans and hell, men with low rise pants that give Thong Chicks a serious run for their money, and instead of trends that i should be wearing, i see poor choices in fit.  choices in color and cut that don't flatter the wearer-- they flatter the wearer's idea of "in".  

as we packed for LA, i warned ruggy that he was going to be seeing a lot more craziness going on in my closet.  as evidenced by my last fabric haul, i'm understanding now that vivid color looks best on me, and feels best on me. and i know now what cuts flatter me, so the craziness will FIT.  of course he was all in on that.  he never asked me to dress a certain way, and he loves the schizophrenic combinations i come up with.  (well, he does appreciate a good booty hugging dress.  but really, he likes my booty.  i can hardly complain.)

but of course, i still dress for some approval.  i love it when a stranger compliments me on a garment and i can say I MADE IT.  (yes, i do usually say it in all caps.)  is it different for us?  are we looking for the same sort of approval as those dressing for society's current approval?

lots of questions... would love to know your answers... 

(i'm going for my approval.  and the ronald mcdonald harem pants did NOT make the cut.)

110 comments:

  1. Dear Oona, just so you know, I like you more every day. I think I've always been dressing for myself, but, I've also been influenced in different stages of my life. In high school, I dated a punk kid and I had a mohawk at one point. I dressed very professionally when I owned a business. So, I guess, I've always dressed appropriately to the stage of life I was in, but I've always felt like I was consciously wearing what I wanted to.

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    1. you should know, the feeling is mutual.

      i like that thought, it bridges the need to dress for where you, are but in what you choose.

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  2. I dress for ME. I'm sure that a part of it is dressing for male approval or whatever - I mean, I definitely highlight my assets and everything I own veers toward "sexy" in some shape or form, however subtle - but I also wear things that make a lot of guys raise their eyebrows, such as super high-waisted pants or really loud prints. Obviously I'm not looking for a man right now since I have my own gorgeous hunk of a man, but even when I was in my years of single-dom, I was all about dressing for Lauren and not rando-dude-at-the-bar, you know? I do wish more people would just accept what they like and go with that - I see soo many girls in "fashionable" "sexy" clothes and they just look so sad & uncomfortable... you can tell they don't like it.

    I'll admit that I have pieces that Landon doesn't care much for, and most of the time I don't wear them around him (and am more likely to wear something he really likes instead), but he has grown to like most of my stuff so it's a moot point anyway. He even likes the super high-waisted pants with the little boy's dinosaur sweater-turned-crop-top. A true sign of a keeper.

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    1. i know you do girl!!! seriously, you seem so truly comfortable and happy in what you wear. it just happens to be sexy. (tres.) but the high waisties can still come out (ruggy is learning to like them too).

      it makes me want to throw a wrap over those red carpet women who look like they want to jump out of their super exposed skin, but i totally applaud the ones who are LOVING it.

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  3. I think I dress for a frustrated child within. Too much structure as a child and you get an aging chubster in a tutu and Disney Couture accesories! My husband luckilly has no issues with my daily salutes to the Geriatric Toddler set.

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  4. I went and read the post, and I think you might like me less because of what I say.

    I think much of the problem is because of feminism. We, as women, declare that we are no different from men. Men like it when women dress sexy, generally, or at least stereo-typically. Thus, women should like that, too. This opens a whole-huge can o' worms, I know. And I know I'm likely to get beat up for it, too.

    Sometimes I do dress for Hubby. But then, you will never see me in those outfits... because, well, they are for Hubby alone. :P

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    1. are you kidding me? i like you more because you have your own opinion!

      and a very interesting opinion it is. i had to chew that sentence over several times. it gets into the whole chivalry thing too, if we're equals we're equals, so dude, let's see those gams.

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  5. I was actually just discussing something like this with a friend yesterday. On my best-dressed days I have an image or an idea of how I want to look and I pull whatever I need to make that happen out of my closet. Of course the image I see, in my head or in the mirror, is one I want other people to see as well--dressing yourself is one way of controlling how other people see you, which I find really empowering. I don't really think about whether other people will like what I'm wearing, especially since I wear a lot of long skirts and baggy sweaters (usually not together) that probably aren't considered attractive by the vast majority of the population. So I guess I'd have to say that I dress for myself, but always with the idea in mind that I'd like other people to see me in a certain way.

    Sewing your own clothes, and seeking approval from others while wearing them out and about, doesn't seem at all like the objectification that women (and also men) who dress "sexily" in order to please other people subject themselves to. Sewing your own clothes is just another way of asserting your control over your image: you've made something unique, not something that mass market retailers say you should wear. For me, the issue at the heart of feminism is always that idea of control. If you want to let that thong fly free, then no one should be able to stop you, but if no one feel compelled to dress like that in order to gain society's acceptance.

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    1. love this. our clothes are an extension of our selves. you can tell when a person has put thought into their look-- and i'm not just talking "well dressed" (in society's terms), i mean punk or vintage or hipster or whatever you want to put out there as YOUR IMAGE. i may not like the hipster look, but if it's the material embodiment of the person wearing it, you've got to appreciate it.

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  6. fabulous post, oona. peter's also talking about this today, and i think, with all of the recent political headlines, the idea of women's dressing (and other choices) seem closer to the front of my thought processes these days.

    ITA--when i look at the trends these days, i see people wearing clothes that don't fit, that may not flatter, that would look nicer in a different color--all of the things that we sewasaurus rexes started sewing to have control over! i walk through the racks at the mall in a state of shock that anyone would buy that sort of poorly-made junk.

    but then, i've never been into trends. the closest i ever came, really, was the year some (guy) friends told me i was way too hot to be wearing baggy jeans and t-shirts. i like to dress for me and and i like for people looking at me to see the bits of me i want to project...and nothing else.

    it's not about feminism, if i may contradict rachael younger. dressing to be seen and approved is not tied in any way with seeking to be seen as an equal--in fact, i would say it's the opposite! i dress the way i dress because i like it, because i made it, because it says something about me that i want said--and i want everyone else in the world (man, woman, child) to approach their wardrobe that way, within their own cultural, religious, budgetary and personal values.

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    1. blogger sympatico, i should go check it out...

      that's the difference i mean; i think as peeps who think about clothing the way we do, it's a different statement. but i can see how the other side of the coin at the shopping mall, buying the miniskirt because they're told to, i can see how that would be viewed differently than a short waisted sewist realizing a mini skirt is a great cut for her.

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  7. I have to admit I dress for the approval of others — but NOT men. The only man whose opinion counts to me is my husband (OK, and maybe Tim Gunn), and my husband is an appreciative darling who compliments me in whatever I wear. I dress for the approval of interesting women whose style I admire. Like, if I were to meet you OONA, I would totally choose my outfit carefully. So it's not about showing off an aspect of my body, but about having a clear vision for an aesthetic I would like to be aligned with. And to show off something awesome I made? Even better.

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    1. i would take like four hours to pick out the perfect outfit to meet you (and tim gunn would also be on that list).

      your last three sentences are three of my favorite sentences in the world.

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  8. Honestly, that post rubs me in the wrong way. In the little snippet that you've included, there are multiple things I take issue to. The use of "American" as if there are no other cultures out there that display this behavior. The notion that provocative dress and having a brain cannot coincide. He alludes that I have no independent thought if my thong is showing. But here's my major problem. Why does dressing "sexy" = dressing for men? If I "buff and wax", I'm doing it for someone else? Huh?

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    1. i think he's saying, why aren't we buffing the brains like we polish our bodies for display. but i could be wrong. i do get the pleasing others before yourself aspect-- like, the little hairs that grow on my upper lip. SO WHAT. why can't i just rock that frida look. but i can't. i look for creams and waxes and HSN hair rippers. and i hate dealing with it but, i do it. and i'm definitely doing it for someone else.

      surely this is not specific to america, but i do think we put it out there more-- real housewives of crazy town and mtv videos and top model-- it's just everywhere. so much more so than when i was a kid. does it seem more pervasive to you now? not that i mind dressing sexy, i love it-- but it seems the only option to get noticed now.

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    2. That might be what he's trying to say but that's not what I'm reading. What I'm reading draws a line between wearing tight dresses and having intelligence and never will the two meet. He writes that there is something hollow about dressing provocatively. Why? How does he know that these women with their low cut jeans aren't also buffing their brains? It's so victorian of us to think that a women's values (in this case, whether she values her intelligence) can be evaluated by how she is dressed.
      Coming back to the idea that dressing "sexy" can translate to dressing for men, a part of my problem with this is that it plays into the common misconception that the male sex drive is triggered visually whereas a women's is mental stimulation (and that is somehow superior or purer). I'm just as guilty at getting off on a flash of skin as I am a scintillating conversation. Now, I'm no male, but having lived with one for the past eight years I know mine is just the same. So how does it come that dressing to show my body means I'm dressing for male approval? If I wished to attract women, would I not dress the same? I don't like the idea that he's predicting someone's sexual orientation by how they are dressed.
      And on a similar note, he touches on this notion that if this visual parade does turn you on that you are easily influenced (he uses the word "susceptible"). As if these women are trying to dupe you. It's the classic antifeminist idea that all women are out to trap a male (and if they aren't, there's something wrong with them).
      Maybe I'm blowing this out of proportion or reading too much into his introduction. However, I get this overwhelming feeling that he's saying if I dress "sexy" that I'm part of the reason why chauvinism still exists. It's too much like saying "if she didn't want it, she wouldn't be dressed that way". I cannot accept that my clothing is responsible for inequality.
      Fantastic post, Oona, and some really thought provoking debate. I have more to add but I want to read some of the comments that have come through since I started writing!

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    3. I sort of had a similar reaction. I think it's such a slippery slope when we start assuming why people dress the way they do. Sure, I'm concerned about it sometimes. But then again, even the comments people make about seeing others in styles that are trendy or clothes that don't seem to fit them... those comments kind of rub me the wrong way. So if someone else thinks skinny jeans are universally unflattering, or unflattering on MY figure, the fact that I'm wearing them means people can assume I'm just a sheep to the trends? It couldn't just be that I disagree? That I like the way I look/feel in skinny jeans? That I'm glad they came back into fashion? Or, maybe I just like flashing my thong, you know?

      I do find this topic in generally SO fascinating, but I just find it so hard to participate in one that doesn't include a lot of assumptions about individuals that I feel uncomfortable about. But, I'll admit that may be a knee-jerk reaction on my part!

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    4. (In case it's not obvious... I don't actually like flashing my thong. In fact, I rarely wear them at all. But I reserve the right to flash it if I want to ;) )

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    5. i'd love to hear what you think of the whole post... did you read it? or was the snippet too much to bear? (i'm saying that totally sincerely!) i really think you'd find it interesting as a whole. i agree with some of it, and find it all thought provoking.

      also, because i know him (...well, not know him, he's the pianist of my favorite band which happens to be a jazz trio, and i've had the great pleasure of talking at concerts), i can hear the post in his voice. he's extremely thoughtful, funny, self deprecating (i read the "susceptible" as a dig on himself!), and constantly posting opinions that get people talking-- but usually music related. so it was fascinating to read a post concerning (partly) clothing. (it actually centers on a book by ariel levy, literature making up a great deal of his blog as well).

      i have to agree, the right fit on the right bod makes my head turn too. i hate it when ruggy wears a zip up hoodie instead of a tight t shirt. and ruggy can't stand the sight of a thong creeping up to say hello. we're all turned on by something.

      also i think it's more about the reality TV society disease that's going on. a dressing sexy in a race to be like the images we're bombarded with.

      please add more!

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    6. Lizz you said exactly what I wanted to say! This was precisely the same thing that bothered me about this post - that he was drawing a line between dressing sexy and being intelligent and that these two things were somehow mutually exclusive. And yes, the assumption of heterosexuality and that the intended audience (if indeed there even WAS an intended audience) was the male gaze was also extremely bothersome.

      Anyway - Well put. I'm now going to read the rest of the comments as well. Thanks Oona - super interesting post!

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    7. @ miss modiste: excellent point. just cause the skinny jeans don't fit, don't mean the peep shouldn't wear them! i would just hope, like you, they're doing it because they like it. (and i'm all thong all the way. sort of by necessity, everything turns into one on me. too much information?)

      @ sallie: you're welcome, but i gotta give the props to ethan for churning my wheels (and he'd in turn probably give them to ariel levy, who wrote the book that prompted his post. i hope you read the whole thing, it's really great stuff written by a very thoughtful guy.)

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    8. i totally get the slippery slope aspect of the conversation. it is too easy to go from "dressing for attention" to "don't dress like a slut and bad things won't happen to you." but in this instance i think that goes deeper than the intent of the original post--and i didn't read it as saying that dressing "sexy" and having intelligence were mutually exclusive. all of us have been the subject of a gaze. and i think all of us get a frisson of excitement from "the right fit on the right bod". the question is, as miss modiste suggests and oona asks, are you wearing the clothes because you like them? because they make you feel comfortable? or, to go with the commenters who have discussed how they enjoy dressing up for the people in their lives who are special, do you feel confident? happy? empowered?

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  9. I dress sexy for my hubby when no one else is around because that's what I'm going for. The rest of the time I dress for me. I've never been a "fashionista", nor do I want to be. I read on a blog once about how women who think that they don't care about fashion should "get over themselves"...I remember I quit following that blog that day. I don't want to "get over myself", I want to sew and wear things that I find to be comfortable, and hopefully, flattering to my size/shape. Everyone likes to have their appearance complimented, but I don't want that by forcing myself to wear clothes that are fashionably miserable.

    As for Rachel's comment, I can see her point, and hope that others can without harsh judgement too. I want to be equal to (or better than) a man in my skill set; I can change my own oil, plow a field, and yet I can still be a good mother, have an educated discourse, and cook a fancy dinner. In my mind that's what feminism should be about.

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    1. that's one word i can't get behind, "fashionista". it calls to my mind peeps clamoring for the latest trend, whether or not it's right for them. sort of a walking advertisement.

      i had a subscription to vogue a couple years ago, and at first i felt sort of foolish getting it. near the middle, i realized i really did care about the fabrics, the shapes, the styles, it was inspiring. then near the end, when i could tell you the same 50 ads and photos that would be in the next issue, i wanted to chuck it out the window. but it made me think about caring about fashion vs looking down on it as trivial. of course the whole "get over it" contingent doesn't help to express that feeling. i have no idea where i'm going with this but you made me think...

      feminism, yes-- that's what peopleism should be about!

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    2. Peopleism! Right. I'm a peopleist, I think. How do you say "people" in Latin? These things usually come from Latin.
      Um... I guess it's humanist, actually. I'm not sure I'm a humanist, though. That word comes with a baggage of its own.

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  10. I can't really say I dress for myself as much. BUT, the only time I might dress for men is going out or sometimes when I hang out with a particular person. (probably why I am always single, ha).
    I dress for work, but with a slight twist of not being polish. I do miss when I could rock multi-color faux dreads to work. On the weekends I wear jeans and one of my many free t-shirts.

    I don't know how I would describe my dream style. I have yet to see this style in clothing stores. Lovely thing about sewing is I can make it myself one day.

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    1. making your dream style, i like that.

      do you wish you dressed for yourself more? just wondering...

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    2. I do.
      Oona, you just opened a can of worms with that question. So instead of writing a novel here, I think I should touch on it in a future blog post.

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  11. Yeah, I think there's a bit of a disconnect in that statement. I don't think most women dress "for" men. We may dress to provoke certain reactions, because we enjoy getting those reactions, but that's not quite the same thing. Feeling cute and sexy feels good, with or without a man around to do the ogling (and let's face it, while a certain amount of polite ogling can be fun, it does get old fast)

    Using our wardrobes to manipulate the way people treat us is a time-honored part of fashion, whether it's hooker heels or a power suit. I wish it wasn't---I'd rather dress for joy---but on the other hand we have a lot more control over our wardrobes than we do over other things that affect how we're judged---like race, gender, weight.

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    1. but i can see how he'd make that connection, and how we as sewists would see it as a disconnect. i mean, look at it without sewing eyes, if possible... i don't know. i can see how someone in today's reality would put a stigma on the waxing and buffing and sexytime dressing, what with the hotel heiresses and whatnot bopping around, educating young women on what gets you noticed.

      i LOVE your point on how we're judged, and something we have control over. LOVE IT.

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  12. I love this post, Oona, because I think that, to counter you with all respect, Lizz, by it's very definition "dressing sexy" is about someone else, because it's about implying or signifying or eluding to sex, which by it's nature you can only do with someone else. I mean, I suppose in theory you could dress in a way that makes you more attracted to YOURSELF, but that strikes me as almost impossible, unless you (the editorial you, not anyone personally) are verging on the solipsistic. Because sexy really is about sex, not about beauty per se.

    I personally don't have a gentleman caller in my life, so however I'm dressing, I guess it's not working, because it CLEARLY isn't for a guy. Which is freeing, but also, if I'm perfectly honest, at some points depressing. My mother always said, however, if you are with someone who cares more about your clothing then what is underneath it then chances are you aren't going to be happy in that relationship. What can I say, she's a feminist. (So am I.) I have to think, though, that she is also correct.

    I'm a theater artist, and so much of what I studied in school was performance theory. I took a few classes on theater of various cultures and races, and that introduced me to the widely held belief that identity is, on many levels, a performance. So I think we "perform" femininity or sexuality in the same way we perform so many other facets of ourselves in our lives. And the way we dress, then, becomes costume, our prop in our daily performance. Of course, maybe I think this way because my life is so steeped in performance, but it makes me consider the fact that if this identity is, indeed, a performance, then I better perform the role I chose and crafted, and not the one some Alfred Hitchcock style manipulation elected by some master manipulator.

    And if confidence is what is most attractive, not maybe overtly sexy, but legitimately attractive, then surely it makes sense to wear what makes one the most comfortable, be that sweatpants or hoop skirts. Otherwise it's like watch a poor parody of real sexuality and attraction, people dressed in clothing that divorces them from their own desires and makes them a pure object for other people's projections.

    As a sewer, the things that make me feel the best are those that fit my body the best and give me a sense of ownership of my own image. Revealing a lot of any one body part seems to make people in my life focus solely on that one part of me, and not my totality. I would rather have the whole picture, or the whole performance, be what people see. And if that comes in bright colors, so much the better.

    strugglesewsastraightseam.wordpress.com

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    1. i completely respond to that idea of identity as a performance, and how we can interpret that performance through, in effect, our "wardrobe." there are so many ways to use that, and i think that analogy can encompass all of the different things we have all thought about on this thorny issue.

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    2. @ leah: well i love your response! your first paragraph and the definition of dressing sexy blew my mind. perhaps we should dress beauty, whatever that means to us.

      of course, if we didn't splay our feathers and strut around like peacocks, i guess society might have gone the way of the dinosaur. but then! aren't the males the ones in the animal kingdom usually doing the dressing sexy? peacocks? lions? bucks? plenty of costumes there.

      yes, i agree on confidence, and i think we own our images more because we DO know our bodies. i love your last paragraph too. hell, i love them all.

      like puu i agree that it's a performance. what else are we doing here if not to attract/interact with others?

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    3. "sex, which by it's nature you can only do with someone else"

      If this is true, I'm doing it wrong half the time. Oops, did I just write that?

      Honestly, beautiful comment, Leah! I love the last paragraph where you talk about ownership of your image. Sewing has allowed me to really take control of my image and truly get to know my body.

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    4. "If this is true, I'm doing it wrong half the time. Oops, did I just write that? ":

      HA.

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    5. @ leah - I think the point in your last paragraph is exactly what I took from his post. People tend to focus on one part of your body when you display it; I think that this is also true if you prominently display one aspect of your personality. That can be empowering if you are doing it consciously, but it can also be limiting if you are just doing it because of a trend, or because society says "this is how you get attention and have value."

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  13. I read the article, and figured out that I'd probably have to read the book he writes about first, and lots of other things, and that I simply do not want to bother. Is that bad? I don't know. I only know my time isn't endless, and that there are things I want to dedicate that time to first.

    I'm not sure who I dress for, but I'm pretty sure it's not "men". Sometimes I dress for my father, but that's rare (more like he tells me something looks bad on me, so I come to him for advice). Most of the time I probably dress for myself, or generally for people who would like things similar to what I like.
    But it reminds me of an interview with Vivienne Westwood I read some time ago. It was one of those awesome things where you can't relate to the person (Vivienne Westwood is so not like me), yet you find yourself constantly relating to what the person says. One of those things was that women nowadays tend to dress sexy for everyone, which is a big mistake, because they end up slutty and boring - they should only dress sexy for those close to them, or for people of their own mindset. While dressing "sexy" is not highest on my list of priorities, I must say I totally agree with that. I think that's the big problem behind the slutty dressing the author of the article mentions at the beginning: that weird attempt to be sexy for everyone.

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    1. not bad at all. priorities, girl. that's why i love ethan's excerpts:)

      "dressing sexy for everyone", i think that's part of what he's meaning: looking for temporary affirmation from the world by appealing to (what is considered to be) the world's idea of beautiful-- whether the wearer thinks or feels it is beautiful.

      love westwood's description of it as boring-- i often think the women i see teetering around in heels and pulling on skirts look uncomfortable, and bored. that said, there are plenty of women who rock that look, and in their enjoyment of it, it's beautiful and exciting to behold.

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  14. I spend 50% of my day dressing for someone else. Now, that someone else also employs me and does not necessarily agree with what I would like to wear. I can say that confidently as I got in quite a bit of trouble for wearing my Royal Wedding Refashion to work with the shoulderpad hat. It was quite a scandal. So I've learned my lesson, and I've toned things down quite a bit. Whether I go out or when I am home, I try and figure out what to wear to be more "me". I spent 12 years in Catholic school, so when I got out, I had no style. I was thrust into jobs where I had to wear a uniform, or where I am now, where there is a dress code. For me, it's not about dressing sexy or anything of that sort - it's just trying to dress like me when I am not at work. I know I like color, and it's a good day when I feel like I can blend my love of color into my work wardrobe. Writing this makes me realize that when I sew, I automatically ask myself, "Is this work appropriate?" Because if it is, the chances are higher that I'll wear it often and make it part of my wardrobe. I would love to drape myself over my cube in Vintage Vogue dresses, but it's not going to happen - and that's disheartening. So I sometimes sew for other people's expectations as well.

    While I feel slightly depressed by everything I've just written above, it makes me want to push the envelope a little more. I want to make orange and yellow into work appropriate colors; that would help me feel like myself without me becoming the object of ridicule (ah, HR is a cutthroat world).

    I long for warm days so I can wear sundresses - not for the sexy factor, but so I can feel like me in my own skin.

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    1. girl, did you truly get in trouble for the shoulder pad ensemble?!

      i love that you're heading into Envelope Straining Territory. really, if you're using clean lines and solid colors, couldn't you at least be as vibrant as you wish? if you start slow, you might even introduce some prints into the mix...

      i know what you mean about sundresses. when it's warm enough that that's all i hang in the closet, i'm overjoyed.

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  15. And PS: I love those pants. SIGNATURE COLOR FTW.

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  16. I like to dress for myself when I can. Occasionally, I do dress for my husband (we have radically different, ah, tastes in fashion) but mostly I dress for myself. I do have to curb my style a bit for work, but seeing as it's a safety issue rather than a just being mean to poor fashion bloggers thing, I think I can handle it.

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    1. i love imagining your husband rocking out the vintage style with you, though :)

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  17. Love the discussion, also liked Peter's blog that ties to some of the same themes.

    I dress for lots of people. Primarily myself, I will not wear something I'm not comfortable wearing (say a really short skirt) because nothing is more unattractive than someone who is figiting with their outfit. I wear things that I know my husband will like. That's fun and I in the end feel good about myself. I wear things that I think are sexy for everyone to see. I hide my tummy and I'm comfortable with a certain level of cleavage. I feel curvy and hot in my Renfrew shirts, I bask in an unsolicitation. That's win-win.

    To put a spin on the feminist angle, I think it is true for men too. I expect my husband to dress up for me from time to time. I know he wears things he feels attractive in when we go to a party or out for dinner for both myself an others to see and think positively about him. I will blatently compliment his ass if they truly are flattering jeans. When he felt he was not being taken seriously enough at his completely casual workplace, he started wearing sports coats and stopped wearing jeans. He still wears a jacket from time to time even with that crap behind him because he feels good in them. The road goes both ways in our house as far as who you are dressing for.

    We also are quite likely to wear pj's all day if we have no where to go and nothing to do and I'll still chase after him to the shower. I like what is under those clothes.

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    1. apparently we were in minutes of each other, according to puu! weird.

      i agree, fighting with your clothing is a cardinal sin. but i also think that's because we pay attention to fit and know something has not been done properly if it's riding up!

      ours is a two way street too, but i've had to stop trying to hand ruggy violations. he's most comfortable in a zip up, and if i'm going to heed my own mantra, then that's what he should wear... although happily, he has a rack full of hot jeans. (love your last thoughts, by the way. we'll do the exact same thing.)

      Delete
    2. Did you ever hit a button with this post. I'm loving reading all the discussion. It is still moving around in my head as I brought it up with my husband in the car last night.

      Three cheers for hot jeans and what is under them!

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  18. If I look at my wardrobe as a whole, I dress for Rupaul. Certainly not my husband, as he cringes at the multiple layers of sequins and animal print. On occasion I'll tone it down, especially when we're rubbing elbows with the head honchos. With that said, I work with small children every day and don't like risking my favorite drag queen clothes to the paint, poop, and pinworms that may come my way. (No joke, we had a kid with them today...I thought I was going to DIE!) I try to sneak in some sassy with an animal print scarf or a sequin beret, but it is a school and too many sparkles are disruptive to kids with the attention spans of walnuts. I guess that is what the weekend is for. :)

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    1. that made me laugh OUT LOUD. actually, the whole shebang has me laughing. it takes sewing for children to a whole 'nother level.

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  19. for me, fashion is really personal thing.. my clothes makes me happy, i only wear garments that makes ma happy, not sexy, not comfy, but simply happy.. i dress the same way when i'm home alone, or when i go out, whatever the reason of me being out is, be it groceries shopping or theater or night out (only times i do dress differently is when i'm climbing a mountain or do my digging job)..
    i work as an archaeologist, being at excavations several months every year.. and every year my new coworkers think i'm nuts for the first couple of days - we came home from digging, i take a shower and show up in dress-blouse-skirt-heels-sort of combination, with hair and make up done, and for them it's just odd.. we usually are in the middle of nowhere, and they just don't get the idea that i want to dress "nice" with no "reason", just to sit there drinking beer and doing paperwork on computer.. over the time, they get used to it (not too used to my color combos, but what the heck).. but i need that switch, to feel like me (not that i'm not feeling like me during the day, all covered in mud or dirt, i love to get dirty and sweaty and all that, even more than the others, but not all the time)
    luckily, my boyfriend likes the way i dress.. my fashion taste changed a lot over the years, but he does like my choices most of the time.. he likes some of my stuff less than other, but is ok with whatever i choose to wear (and what says love more than that.. after all, i do tend to wear 34 diff patterns at once)

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    1. you can ABSOLUTELY tell you wear what makes you happy, you're like a burst of supernova sunshine coming out of the screen!

      i love that you wash the much-loved mud off and change into your other persona. i can just see you hanging out with the beer and paperwork. i think that's my favorite thing about clothing: the ability to become whoever you want just by changing a skirt. i think i have 34 different personalities...

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  20. I think this might be my favourite post I've read all year!

    I've been thinking about this a lot lately as I wish I did dress for myself more but sometimes I find it quite difficult to distinguish between if I'm choosing an outfit for me or for who's going to be looking at me. I think I dress quite a lot for my man, and am very influenced by comments by him, my friends, family and work colleagues. One little comment by my brother about some dress looking like a nurses uniform and that's gone to the back of the wardrobe never to be seen again except to make a brief outing to the charity shop! Some of my clothing choices, particularly in my student years, have actually obtained nicknames and become a standard joke with my family (the duster, the pirate boots...)! I've noticed my style change over the years depending on who I spend a lot of time with and whose style I admire at the time and am subconsciously trying to emulate but also because of what is deemed 'acceptable' where I'm working or living at the time. I'm doing my utmost bestest to break out from these silly rules right now! I've just really got into sewing my own clothes and choosing what to sew somehow feels like it should take a lot more consideration than what to buy, probably because I'm going to invest so much time in it. I'm seizing the opportunity to recreate my wardrobe (which is made to fit and flatter me right!) based on MY rules!

    P.S. What IS it about men and super high waisted trousers?! I'm definitely digging mine back out TOMORROW! Thanks Oona!

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    1. well thank you fiona! i'll tell you what, that makes me SUPREMELY happy that this post might help in breaking those old rules!!!

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  21. Great post! And I'll admit to not reading every single comment so fogive me if I repeat what other's have said. I was a bit put off by the other blogger's assumption that (for example)wearing a thong or skinny jeans is for someone else's benefit. I wear things for comfort and to stay at least somewhat with the trends. Following the blogger's logic, if given the choice, we would all wear granny panties and muumuu's everyday! How boring would that be? comfy I must admit...
    I know there was discussion of "feminism" and dressing. That makes me crazy. Feminists who "take a stand" through dressing and mock girly-girls are limiting themselves just as much as a woman who 'dresses for their man'. Both are wrong and allowing themselves to be controlled by other's ideas. Isn't true equality dressing as you like? Whether it's feminine or not?

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    1. ethan's clarified his point-- which i think was mistaken-- as for me, if the muumuu fits, and you like it, WEAR IT. some days i'm a step away from a closet full of wildly printed caftans. it's all too limiting, feminist or fashionistas, i agree, wear what you love.

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  22. What timing, just yesterday we had a staff meeting and one of the topics was the dress code. That said it depends on the occasion. If I'm at work and someone is paying me to be there and present an image for the company, I'm not going to challenge the dress code. I need my job.

    Outside of work is another thing all together. It is all about comfort. And I'm more comfortable in a dress or skirt. I often stand out like a sore thumb as I live in jean-wearing prairie country. It must be the stage I am in life right now, but I don't give a woot's ass what people think. I dress for myself.

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    1. " I don't give a woot's ass what people think. I dress for myself."

      yes to the work code; obviously for the mula and all-- but this ought to be on a plaque somewhere.

      Delete
  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. I deleted my comment... I didn't like it! I think I was confusing myself... and after walking away and still chewing this all over and coming back to it I softened up. This is a really hard issue to respond honestly to because we all participate some way in a gendered power play, and sometimes our clothes project that power relationship. So I'm just going to respond instead to the part about who I dress for - and I'm going to be honest, because I don't always dress for myself.

      I dress for my Mom. I dress to look like my Grandma. I dress for my blog and sometimes pretend to be cool and then feel really awkward. I dress for other sewing bloggers. I very rarely dress for the guy at the bar - but sometimes I take offense if he doesn't notice me. And I'm still pissed about that time when I overheard those two guys refer to me as "that ugly dyke". Sometimes I dress to let other women know that they have NO chance with my husband - so stop making eyes at him! The longer we're together the more I realize that I dress like my husband - sometimes. Sometimes I dress real nice on days where I know I'm not going to see anyone. I guess thats dressing for me.

      Delete
    2. this is so interesting, because i got to read your first deleted comment (they go to my mailbox) and i thought you brought up many great points... but when i read this it was like the distilled water of a rainstorm. blech that's uber poetic, but you know what i mean? what a calm and beautiful way you've put it. thank you.

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  24. I think it's interesting that a lot of us are saying that we don't dress to be sexy or look nice for others, that we dress in ways that we like, in cuts that flatter us. But, who decides what is flattering? No matter how much cleavage you decide to show, don't most "flattering" cuts do what they can to make our chesticles look larger and perky, and our waists tiny, and our bottoms round? If we're really dressing only for ourselves, than wouldn't that include what we define as flattering?

    Great post, btw!

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    1. GREAT POINT. really great point! i know i jump around in the mirror when i like the way a dress flatters my waist. so we're flirting with ourselves too...

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  25. Thank you so much for this post. I'd been thinking about this, well "style" in general. And I say style as a opposed to fashion because the former is lasting and the latter smacks of consumerism. Body adornment has, since the dawn of time, been a way of expressing who we are, where we come from, and what status we are in society. In a way, I think of people who sew part of a tribe of misfits and rebels that dare to be truly themselves. At least in the context of our modern pop culture and consumerist tendencies, that is.

    Having said that, after going back and examining my life I realize that I have always rebelled in some way against the norm. I don't think that's ever going to change. Also, you rock.

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    1. sewing tribe mates, i love it. the people in the hills, to be viewed from a distance and with caution.

      i agree, it's an extension of who we are, if we want it to be.

      (and YOU roll!)

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  26. Oooooh, INT-ER-EST-ING topic and I have something to confess that on the face of it seems pretty retrograde and weird- recently my fella and I decided he's in charge of buying my clothes. Because basically, he just cares more than I do, I hate hate hate shopping. Simon got sick of offering opinions on sewing patterns I showed him because even though he usually LIKED what I showed him, I finish WAY less projects than I start and they don't all always get worn, or end up suiting me. I just bum around in jeans and a tee most of the time. Anything Simon's bought me for gifts I wear and always like, he's got good taste, but I have no self-propulsion to buy ready-to-wear. So we just decided if he wants to see me in cute stuff he's welcome to buy it and I'm happy to wear it. It's working great! He trawls ebay for stuff from Gorman lately, that's his, and now MY, favourite brand.

    So I guess I'm literally dressing for A MAN, but not men in general. In younger days I did the skimpy-skimpy thing but it's a phase, you grow out of it- literally- you wouldn't want to see me these days in the crop tops I used to rock a decade + ago. It's a young thing. Young guys do it too. dothemath, I see the thong and raise you summer in the city of bronzed pecs and underwear waistbands peeking out of shorts. Its occasionally pleasantly distracting and there's no harm done- and I don't think most of these buff young fellas are concerned that I might not think they're my intellectual equal!

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  27. I have to say though that I was impressed dothemath read female chauvanist pigs- I got it the minute it came out, and thought levy had excellent points too.

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    1. you would be impressed by much of what goes on over there-- oh yeah, and all the bad plus links i've raved about, he's one third of the equation. (i would add "i adore him" but then i'd appear to be a groupie. so just pretend i said it.)

      i remember wearing t shirts that Always. Exposed my belly. in fact i had a friend who would greet me with "belly" in place of "hello". i look back on that in horror now. totally a young phase, and i guess i wouldn't have wanted anyone telling me not to do it. but GOD i'm glad i don't do it anymore...

      i love that simon is your personal shopper. we have the flip side going on over here, maybe i'll have to check out gorman for ruggy. his RTW is appalling, and let's face it, i make him one shirt every two years.

      i've promised ethan i'll read levy. shall i include FCP as well?

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    2. Oh I have to start writing for better clarity! Ariel Levy is the author of Female Chauvanist Pigs. Your musician pal is right, she makes great points and has such a healthy sense for the ridiculous, its a really entertaining book as well as asking some great questions and theories about how we got to a world where you can buy a toy stripper pole for a child.
      Gorman is a womens only brand to my knowledge, Simon always thought it looked cool when we would go past one of their outlets but I was always nah... I can't be bothered, I don't wanna try things on... now its outta my hands, and it's his go-to place for my clothes.

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    3. um, no, truly i have to stop drinking so much muscadet as DUH that's the title of the excerpt of the book i've now promised to read which started the whole shebang. wow. i would say the title is so long i focused on the second half of it but i don't think that's helping my case.

      don't tell ruggy, but he's worn women's cargo pants before. i may still check out gorman :)

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  28. It's totally not you - the guy jumps around from one vaguely connected idea to the next, never really making a point. And I take issue with just about everything he says except the first sentence about women often pleasing others first. And he ends the post with the line "traditionally conservative women nonetheless possessed with a modicum of commonsense". So, apparently he thinks that neither sexually confident nor traditional values women score high in the IQ department. (See a theme?) Overall, this is not the guy I want fighting the good feminist fight for me, no matter what book he's read that makes him feel enlightened.

    But you (clever AND sexy girl that you are) cherry picked the most interesting idea, do we dress to please others or ourselves? I think that with each year I dress more and more like myself and to please me. But also, with each passing year and new experience, I feel more and more myself - like the person I'm supposed to be. And I do sometimes like to dress in a way that I think is sexy - I love my collar bones and decollete! Is this a little bit because I know Phin likes it? Most likely yes. But I don't think that trying to please the opposite sex (or same sex depending on orientation) is unique to women. Men do it too, although maybe not thru their clothing.

    PS- OMG those pants are twice as wide as you are. LOL I can't wait to see them done!

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    1. i should add.. i like and very much admire the guy... in fact i almost fell off my stool when he recognized me at a concert he was playing. but i love the conversation this has started and i'd bet money he does too. i swear, even before he commented below, i would have placed that wager.

      yes! do men do it through.... their grilling? their carpentry? this is fascinating. and of course you have those that transcend stereotypes and cook a mean pork tenderloin in a perfectly tied vintage apron. and i agree, as years go by so does the desire to dress for others. it's NICE.

      (those pants are dead now. they are n the process of being resurrected. they would please NO ONE in their past life. and your stripes?)

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    2. Actually, what I should add - and apologize for - is that I was a VERY bitter kitten up WAY past my bedtime when I commented. I should have slept on it rather than letting my first impression rear it's ugly head. I can absolutely see his point and Levy's, too. I think that both extremes - the glorification of the sex trade at one end and the fetishizing of a pure/virginal image of women at the other - are both incredibly repressive. And in between those extremes is a messy messy place. Taking ownership of one's sexual identity in a society that still basically teaches girls that the worst thing they could do to their relationship with their parents is have sex isn't a straight course.

      One last note on this. Men's suits are designed - and carefully tailored and padded out if necessary - to emphasize the idealized male physique - broad shoulders and chest, a trim waist, height... It fascinates me that there is a huge difference in perception when it comes to men and women each dressing to make their physique look more like a beauty ideal.

      Too bad about the pants. I will be working on my stripes this weekend - the theme will be cabana!

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    3. clio makes a great point about men's suits and other traditional forms of male dress...like the man in the gray flannel suit. that's both an idealized form of the male physique and a couple hundred years' worth of conformity in one image! and yet no one gets up in arms about that.

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    4. Oh, I'm cranky enough always that I totally agreed with Clio's initial comments. But I do love this topic, and it's something I think about a lot, as I worry about my daughter and her self-image as she grows up. I do know that I dress mainly for me--which is why I often leave the house in three different types of polkadots, or several varieties of stripes, florals and eye-peeling brights, to my husband's bemusement. But I won't lie that I take notice of which outfits he particularly likes or compliments, and tend to put them in heavier rotation.

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    5. y'all are cracking me up. i'm using bitter kitten. mikhaela, seriously laughed out loud.

      yes, there have got to be men out there adorned in the perfectly cut suit who don't WANT to be looking that sharp (why is beyond me). maybe they should just as well be wearing a thong. why is their ideal for us a thong and ours a three pieces suit?!

      fantastic points, clio, both extremes (tramp/virgin) are hazardous.

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  29. Hello! Iverson here, from the original post. Perhaps this is a "teachable moment?" I have updated my original entry

    http://dothemath.typepad.com/dtm/2012/03/ariel-levys-revolution.html

    with the first two lines retracted and the following added:

    UPDATE: This was a bad lead. I should have made it clear that I'm talking only about a very specific style, not female beauty and adornment in general. The topic of Levy's book is raunch culture, the idolization of porn and celebration of stripper-chic. Oonaballoona and team have called me out on this! I suspect that many of these women are talented fashion designers like Oonaballona herself: in no way did I mean to suggest that intelligence and looking good are antipodes. I am following Levy in lamenting a rising tide in American culture that glamorizes the sex industry and pressures women to appear sexually available. Don't take my word for it, just read the book.

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    1. i am sitting post-bottle of muscadet amidst gales of laughter, and ruggy's casting a very cautious eye on me. ethan, of course i knew this is where you were coming from in the first place, which maybe i could have made more clear. (still working on the sewing vs philosophizin brain). i do think we got off on a tangent... as fellow "fashion designer" puu put it, this conversation has a slippery slope aspect to it that's easy to go down...

      (the laughter stems from the total sur-reality that my favorite professional musician is --no wait i'm laughing again. seriously this is surreal.)

      peeps, ethan is awesome. all kinds of awesome. i invite you again to read his post, read many of his posts, listen to his music-- besides the questions he brought up in my mind about clothing and wanting to have a sewists' conversation on how we wear it, having you read his posts and listen to his music is half of what i wanted to accomplish in the first place! sewing and jazz, MEET! DRINK! BE MERRY!

      (ethan, as soon as my sewing brain lets up, i'm reading the book.)

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    2. Sarah Vaughan used make all her own clothes - concert gowns too.
      I understand she'd ask to have a sewing machine/table in her dressing rooms, and at times she'd travel with one. The bedroom suite of her home, in Los Angeles, had almost an annex for sewing!!
      Just thought I'd let ya' know! (Why not).

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  30. Lovely Oona, you *are* a designer!

    I liked his post and his way of dialoging with the book. For some reason, I kept thinking of Martin Buber's "I-Thou". (Ethan have you read this? It definitely reaches artistic transcendence...)

    As for dressing, I do like dressing for others but I also want to *give* and not manipulate. I'm glad I'm getting older and freer. When I was younger I used to try and hide--I didn't like being noticed. Introverts, heh. I like dressing for my man but that's easy... he's got style so it's a win win!

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    1. he often dialogues with books, reviews, full sheets of music...

      i can't imagine you hiding. your style is so specific and chic, i would call it a rare bird.

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  31. This is really interesting! I often wonder about what drives the pervasive raunch culture... I have no answers and my philosophising leaves much to be desired so I will be silent on that point. However, I do love and appreciate that there are people out there thinking about things deeply who are also brave enough to put their ponderings out there for others to muse upon.

    I'd like to say I've come to a point where I dress for me (if I dressed for my husband I'd have to live in track pants - for some confusing reason he prefers the comfy look. I like the comfy part, but it's not necessarily "me"). When I was younger I tried desperately to dress for others in order to be accepted and approved. I clearly remember being about 6 years of age and told by a girl at school that if I wanted to hang around them I'd have to "dress cooler". We didn't have enough money to dress in new and fashionable clothing so it was always a point of being different and excluded. I eventually got to the point of "fuck it and fuck them" - I now attempt to wear what I love and what I feel good in. I say "attempt" because what I love I need to make myself and I'm currently struggling with that on points of confidence and skill (fitting/pattern grading is a bitch). I like Meg's point regarding dressing for work - if I could I'd wear dresses and skirts most of the time but it just isn't practical for crawling around bathroom floors and adjusting wheelchairs! I guess in that way I do still dress for others 50% of the time.

    I found your question about whether we are looking for the same sort of approval as those dressing for society's approval REALLY interesting. I do love the satisfaction of saying "I MADE IT!" (I also use caps) to people who ask BUT because of my background, I really, really dislike the idea of dressing for someone else's approval. Conflicting!! When I was younger my self worth was tied to my being accepted and I wasn't accepted partly because of how I dressed. I guess for me the way I could potentially resolve it is that I like people liking what I have made but I didn't make it or wear it in order to be accepted by them. My self worth also isn't tied to whether or not someone else likes what I am wearing - they could just as easily not like it and I wouldn't stop wearing something based on a lack of accepting/liking comments. Lots of vague pondering statements, nothing definitive. I'll find me a glass of red wine and do some more thinking...

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    1. amanda, i wonder if you should make the craziest loudest underwear you can imagine to wear under your work clothes. it might give you a laugh to know it's there. maybe something with teeny bottles of alcohol on it. (and i think we grew up in the same school.)

      that's the question that tied my brain in a knot, because surely at this point i could give a fuck what others think, right? but i WANT them to see my well thought out outfit! else why did i put it on-- hell, why did i spend 8 hours sewing it? for my own satisfaction, but also for interaction. interaction satisfaction. i like it. i have a feeling you could run with that.

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    2. love amanda's comments--and yours. if we're sewing to say something, and to be happy, don't we also want someone to notice how awesome we are?? is it enough if the outfit just starts the conversation? or is it enough, walking down the street, to be completely secure in your belief that no one on that street could possibly be any awesomer than you are?

      i am sure oona has that feeling pretty much almost always. :-)

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    3. DAMN STRAIGHT PUU.

      I AM BATMAN.

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  32. I have to answer that, however late. I dress for myself but also for the reactions I - mostly - don't want to get. I never liked receiving catcalls and comments, so I usually don't let the hair down/wear mini skirts/skintight stuff, and I'm left in peace. That also means DH who'd rather see me with hair flowing etc. has to put up with a somewhat boring version of me. (I'm sure age is going to take care of all that soon; then again I may not receive catcalls anymore, but does that mean I should or shouldn't wear mini skirts now?!) I must also mention that while DH loves long hair, I met him when I had an almost shaved head and he still liked me. A sure sign of quality in my book!

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    1. living in NY, i can totally relate. is it too much to ask for a walk down the street void of pssssssts and whistles? i go through phases with that, but mostly it's screw you guys i'm wearing a skirt.

      a quality guy indeed to go through all phases of hair with you: so what's your favorite way locks wise?

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    2. I loved the buzz cut, actually! Anything longer than half an inch and it needs to be styled (not my strong suit) until it's really long (like now) in which case I can let it air dry and put up in a twist in half a minute. I didn't stay super short because quite the opposite of catcalls etc. occured: People either ignored me or were positively rude. I hadn't realized how much the world reacts to our looks. And while I may not want to be reacted to as "sexy" I realize I like being treated like a woman rather than a neutral entity/furniture/whatever. (Why one has to have hair for that I haven't quite understood to this day...)

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    3. even the hair on our heads can compartmentalize us, yes! i find that sometimes i can hypnotize people with mine.

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  33. I loved reading all these comments! I feel like I am probably grouped in the younger set of bloggers and commenters. I am still trying to figure out what my style is. I never really had one in highschool or college, mostly bumbing about in jeans and a tee. But I have become truly blessed through all the blogs I have been reading and my sewing experiences, I'm finally finding my style! And I am tending to dress only for me! :) My man really has no style, and really has no comments about what I wear, (other than requesting a hot red dress, which is still in a pile on my sewing room floor). When he made his first and only request, I was only too happy to try to make it, because I love to make him happy, but generally, what I make is all about how it will make me feel, and how happy I am when I can prance around in my room, feeling like a princess! Great great post, thank-you!

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    1. isn't it great? it's like afternoon spiked tea and heady conversation. i wish we could get a couple more guys in here to balance the scales.

      i love that he requested a "hot red dress". does it have gathers? pleats? wiggle skirt? bustier top? straps? i don't know honey, just a "hot red dress". awesome.

      that princess dance is a sure sign of finding your style, i know it well :)

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  34. I dress for modesty and convenience. Modesty, because I work in a church. Convenience, because 21 years ago I had to give up dangly earrings and long hair to protect myself from a grabby baby, and never changed back. I refuse to give up wacky color, prints, or garment construction details; but I mostly wear slacks and tunics as they offer the most coverage with the least trouble to get dressed each day.

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    1. you know, i have so many mama friends that i constantly give dangly earrings to and i have GOT to get it through my THICK SKULL that it doesn't play anymore. i love that you're taking your style and modifying it to your needs.

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    2. Keep giving them the pretties! A year or three in Baby Land can leave a mother overwhelmed by exhaustion and by the constant aromas of pee, poop and stale milk vomit. She needs to know that there is hope in the land, that "this too shall pass" and that one day, one day, one day soon she'll be able to wear dangly earbobs again and let her hair grow out. (Of course, by then she'll have to start dying it to cover up the gray ones, but let's not think about that now.)

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    3. I SHALL!!! i like to give the pretties!!!

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  35. It's funny, I don't really consciously think about who I'm dressing for so much as why I dress the way I do. When I get dressed, I'm more concerned with the character I'm trying to emulate, if that makes any sense, because I feel like when I dress like certain archetypes, I take on their characteristics. For example, I'll wear a white sundress with wedges when I want to feel carefree and charmingly flirty, or I'll wear a pleated high waisted skirt with long white socks and a dress shirt when I'm feeling nerdy or studious. Oftentimes I'll channel Alice in Wonderland when I'm feeling whimsical and feminine, so on and so forth. Of course, my boyfriend has a lot of influence in things, because he's my second opinion on whether the look is working or not. In all honesty though, while the way I dress may be considered "sexy," I'm not soliciting male or female attention, because frankly I don't care what other men think.

    I'm actually somewhat offended by Ethan's post, though, because it's a problem I frequently encounter as a female graduate engineering student at Stanford. People seem to assume that because I look put together rather than frumpy means that I'm intellectually inferior, and treat me horribly in group projects as a result. I happen to think that the way someone dresses and their intellect are mutually exclusive and believing otherwise is tremendously judgmental. Also, "stripper chic" is hardly a new thing, this has been going on since the beginning of humanity - I feel like this judgement is more indicative of how sexually repressed society is more than anything, because this is really a non-issue as far as I'm concerned.

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    1. yes, i see it as a sort of costume to fit my mood as well.

      that's an excellent point, the flip side of the coin. so, if we're talking about women who dress skimpily not because they want to, but because they feel pressured to, how do we feel about women pressured into dressing frumpily? there could certainly be einstein amounts of brains behind that thong or an igor lurking in the frumpery, but when the outfit is dictated by society, does it become a sentence rather than a costume?

      we forget about this stigma, i'm really glad you brought it up.

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  36. Well Oona I read that guys post and to be honest I think I would have to read it about two more times to make it through all that pompous leftist intellectual crap. But who do I dress for? I never really thought about it. When I was younger I would say I dressed for the approval of my peers. My husband always liked how I changed my style all the time and was never critical of my fashion phases. Occasionally he wouldn't like something but I would talk him into why it was cool and then he would get it! I also dress for whatever mood Im in. It might be country girl, or urban sophisticate or Euro trash!

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    1. okay girl, sheath those sewing shears... when you get down to it i believe that guy's on our side (and a friend). can't speak for levy but the book is now in my queue!

      i also enjoy convincing ruggy of the charm of an outfit. usually he'll nod and although i haven't convinced him at all, the pointing out of contrasting invisible zips and mixed prints is always fun.

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  37. The following is just my "pompous leftist intellectual crap" opinion but anyone who freely admits that they will require three readings to make it through fairly straightforward subject matter is in no position to refer to said subject matter as "pompous leftist intellectual crap" to begin with.

    :)

    And in a society that co-opts sex to sell everything from corn flakes to sports cars to you-name-it, and where sex is being used as a truncheon in an ongoing culture war led by radical right-wing anti-intellectual pseudo-religious zealots, a veritable Christian Taliban hell-bent on returning us all to the Dark Ages in large part through attacking, belittling and seeking to enforce their oppressive, patriarchal beliefs on women, we all need to stop and think and recognize who our true friends are as well as our true adversaries.

    Ethan Iverson, along with being an absolute genius jazz pianist, is squarely in the true friend category.

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    1. okay daddy, cork that whiskey!

      what am i saying. i LOVE whiskey.

      i think i have to give your second paragraph three readings. sex sells! but it also is the hammer. in both cases it's a weapon...

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    2. Oona, Jim Beam just whispered in my ear and told me that sex is being misused in both instances -- as a sales tool and as a weapon.

      However, with seven billion people on Earth (and counting) someone, somewhere is apparently using sex for the purpose to which it was intended. :O

      If we all could just add a little love to the equation, I'm sure it would equal out.

      Would you like to be astounded, Oona? Good. Check out the link below, courtesy of those leftist intellectuals at the BBC, that estimates your number in the ever-growing queue of the billions of people who live and have lived on Earth. Just enter your birth date (Caution: Don't enter your actual birth date -- use a date close to it to avoid revealing personal information on the interwebs):

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-15391515

      Here is mine:

      "When you were born, you were the:
      2,582,508,457th person alive on Earth

      75,792,518,219th
      person to have lived since history began

      How did we calculate that?
      Both numbers have been calculated using UN Population Division figures. The first is an estimate of how many people were alive on your date of birth. It is one possible value based on global population figures and estimates of growth rates over time. Data before 1950 is less accurate than figures after that date. The second number includes calculations based on the methodology of scholar Carl Haub, who estimated how many people had been alive since 50,000 B.C. His calculation has been amended by the UN to include additional points in time."

      Amazing! There are close to 4.5 billion more people on Earth than on the date (approximately) that I was born! Little wonder this small planet has become so contentious!

      Perhaps the time has come for us all to stop the name calling, forget our differences and the polarization, and work together toward a sustainable future before it's too late (if it isn't too late already).

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    3. THAT IS INSANE. did you also notice the plateaus and steady climb we're on now?

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    4. Yes it is insane, Oona. And world population estimates are on target to approach 9.5 BILLION by 2050! So, those ever decreasing plateaus you so astutely noted are obviously a thing of the distant past since after a population increase of 4.5 billion in just the past 60 years we're on target for a further increase of another 2.5 billion in just the next 38 years!

      What, if anything, do you think this all might have to do with your original post? ;)

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    5. i know i know! THONGS ARE DRIVING MEN CRAZY!!!

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    6. Close, Oona. Very close. ;)

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  38. Ah, I'm late to the party. And I too can't wrap my mind around the things he says in his post. Perhaps because it is 3.30AM and I'm a little bit sleepy.

    What I meant (somewhat shallowly) to say is that I've always thought I dressed for myself. As in, I always prided myself on never consciously dressing for 'others' - I never aspired to the 'cool' crowd, or to be a 'hot babe'. But I realise that 'me' is in a constant state of flux that involves much more than 'who' I dress for, but rather 'for what', since 'me' has to respond to multiple situations/environments/fashion styles.

    I live in a society of stereotypes and have been through many stages in my fashion life - college student in tees/jeans, young worker in conventional non-sexy officewear, wife to a stylish-yet-conventional dresser, and now, mum/worker (no danglies!).

    But I don't feel stifled in my choice of dress, and even in my non-stylish days (not that I'm very stylish these days anyhow!) I was always conscious of dressing to fit my body-type and personality (yes, it's possible even with RTW, sewers!). But it always felt right that I should complement the man beside me, that I should look professional (thank goodness the workplace is ok with weird prints and not-too-clashy colour), that I should dress as befits someone who has to carry small people about or bend over to wipe small noses every couple of minutes. It's not that I dress *for* these people's approval or to fit in. They're used to me and my sometimes-weird ways. And I've learnt to disregard staring (unsolicited compliments are non-existent here - ther're only *stares*!). It's a matter of tweaking personal style to fit the occasion. And I tend hold an un-adaptable personal style credo in lower esteem - this is after all real life that we live in.

    Very few of us have the freedom or occasion to truly dress EXACTLY the way we want in our minds. And really, can the mind truly express itself, completely unfettered by societal or circumstantial influences? Can we really be sure that these influences haven't stealthily ingrained themselves in our minds, to exert their little tentacles of effects?

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    1. "little tentacles of effects".... nice. i think there's an influence in it no matter what we do, i guess you have to marry your style with it.

      but i'll tell you what, any gal who'd make darth vader into a stylish sheath has got to be close to wedded bliss:
      http://tropicalsewist.blogspot.com/2012/01/darth-vader-prosperous-audacity.html

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i thankya truly for taking the time to comment, i love a good conversation-- and hope you know my thanks are always implied, if not always written!