Monday, 15 June 2009

The exalted father

Sometimes reading fashion as a coded expression of attitudes and beliefs can be a bit disturbing. I have previously alluded to this in my fearless expose of the horrifying popularity of military fashion. I am now going to draw your attention to the Freudian secret in which an examination of the modern woman’s wardrobe says that we all fancy our fathers. Let me explain.

There has been a lot of hoopla made about the fact that fashion has got ‘tough’ over the past year or so (you know- /blazer/doc marten/brogue/lumberjack shirt). Alexa Chung wrote an article for this month’s British Vogue claiming that modern girls were seeking protection, toughness. Indeed, there has been a soar in popularity for all things ‘boyfriend’ of late. The androgynous look too (see Uniqlo/ American apparel et al) has been a major hit. Of course, Alexa and Vogue need not have pointed this out to me, I have been thinking about it for quite a while. Except that my deeply disturbing analysis wouldn’t get printed in Vogue.

Three possible explanations as to why women wear men’s clothes:
1. We love our fathers and our new way of dressing is some kind of subconscious expression of our desires. This thought first struck me with full, horrifying force when I was speaking to Chloe Sevigny about her new collection for opening ceremony, which consisted of a range of menswear adapted for women. When I asked her why she thought that she liked to wear men’s clothes she told me “I always loved the way my dad dressed”. I’ll say nothing more dear chloe. (see here for my published article on this
2. We are deluded. We think that wearing the clothing of ‘the stronger sex’ will imbue us with some power (which is not only deluded, but stupid too). We think that people won’t think of us as pretty little silly girls, but tough and gutsy.
3. It’s a ‘dualistic’ act of subversion, where we are mixing things up and challenging perceptions of what it is to be female- “Look im wearing mens shoes and a big baggy mens shirt, but im actually really pretty and girly”. The toughness of the clothes only exaggerates our femininity. It’s kind of a counter-culture cool, trendy way of mixing with gender stereotypes, only to reinforce them even more.

I don’t know which is worst. Probably the fancying your dad option, cos that’s kind of embarrassing. Of course, I would have to add that this line of thought could never be applied to women’s tailoring, which is a different kind of thing altogether and is about as close as fashion has ever got to uttering the ‘f’ word: feminism.

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