Scott Schuman via The Sartorialist

Came across this comment when I browsing the Internet (this is how you lose a couple hours doing nothing): “Women wear outfits. Women dress up. A man ought to simply dress.”

The post was largely about other things, but this offhand comment stayed with me. It's so disdainful and sexist. Why is there so much veneration (and overveneration) of the way men shop and the whole menswear industry in general, when womenswear comes in for so much flak?  It's not like trendy fast fashion is exclusive to women (take a look at Topman).

Men are applauded when they take an interest in style and can wax lyrical about chambray and be taken seriously, but somehow I think a woman who discusses her Birkin bag collection the same way won’t be in for the same treatment.

I can see the sentiment behind the comment – for a start, a glance at any women’s fashion title on the newsstand and you’d be hard pressed to think otherwise.

But I also think a strong strain of sexism lies behind this sort of thinking. And this is such a disservice to all the women out there who don’t fit into this stereotype and are frustrated about constantly being marketed to like we’re a bunch of spendthrift, trend-seeking, "women love to shop" archetypes.

And that's my angry thought of the week.


Maja H said…
Ugh. It also reeks of "You don't want to behave like a WOMAN, do you?". High five to your angry thought, it speaks the truth.
Eileen said…
Lol.. most of my women friends belong in that category of "outfits and dress up"(me included in the past) so I can understand why statements like these come out of people's mouths.

But it does sound judgemental towards women in general.

A├»ssa said…
Oh the contempt for women in that quote... This kind of stupid prejudice regarding women and fashion is so pathetic yet so sadly generalized.
Anyway for us, it's a loose-loose situation: we're into fashion, we're vacuous human beings, not into it: we're depressed spinsters/ matrons.
Double standards live hard even if I see a lot of men of alla ages enslaved to fashion, cars, tech and what not and they don't get the same scornful treatment. I mean has anyone looked at a Menshealth or Maxim cover lately ??
Ammu said…
Word. I agree with you completely. Such a judgmental remark. I think stylish people - male, female or inbetween - all get dressed or dress up depending on the day ahead. Nothing wrong with either option - some days, one simply wears a uniform, other days, one wants to be a bit of a peacock :)
miss sophie said…
totally agree with you and yet i'm not at all surprised at this offensive comment. it reflects the 'typical' thinking re mens vs women's fashion/style and how the industry orients itself. yet another reminder that sexism is alive and well in our society and culture :P
Jess said…
Ugh ugh ugh. Such a despicable sentiment, yet so common. And it's not just a double standard; it's a double-edged sword too - society expects women to dress up and look attractive and to wear the right things for the right occasion, but also labels women as shallow for enjoying fashion and for putting effort into how they look. I could go on in a righteous rage about this topic for hours, but I'll take a shortcut and just post a link to an article that articulates my thoughts on the topic well enough:
Kate said…
Another delightful double-standard. I absolutely agree with Jess - you're damned if you do, damned if you don't. Ugh.
Stef said…
Pitifully stupid comment.
Love the link from Jess too ^^
Clementine said…
I think anything that is considered to be traditionally "feminine" - whether it's fashion or anything else - is considered frivolous simply because it is associated with women. Are sports less silly than fashion? No, but being a sports fan doesn't carry the same stigma because it is considered masculine.

This is another example of the "double bind". I think it's sad because how you dress and present yourself is a big factor in how other people perceive you, and women are already judged so much for everything they do, it's no wonder that many of them are particular about clothes. But then being fashionable or interested in style is also bad. But not being stylish is bad. Just don't try too hard! But look good. But fashion is dumb. But put some effort into your appearance! But don't be vain.

You can't win.
I've heard similar judgmental remarks when it came to men too. That's from other men. If a guy should show interest in his appearance, the others would sneer and call him metrosexual in a derogatory manner. The eye rolling (I wish their eye balls should stick permanently to the back of their heads) when my friends talk about handbags. It's funny some of the men think differently about the electronic gears which literally depreciates into a single digit within months.

That said, I've heard interesting remarks from acquaintances. One spat out - you write a blog?! What for? Utter nonsense. Each to his/her own. Well, I didn't force her to read it, did I.
Lindsay K said…
I hear you. It's very sad. Among millennials I think menswear has become far more interesting and the gender lines are far more blurred. You look at what Pitti has become, all the bespoke shops geared toward young men and it's clear that men are tuning into fashion.

I think Clementine articulated it perfectly. Fashion is hugely disregarded because it is considered something that is for and about women. And there is this deep sexist notion that anything traditionally/historically female is somehow not as serious as those things that are traditionally male.

Personally, I've faced far more judgement from women who through no fault of their own have internalized this way of thinking. I've met so many women who really enjoy fashion, but would never own up to it for fear of being perceived as less intelligent or not serious. I disagree with the notion that fashion is somehow less than any other cultural pursuit.

lin said…
maja huse: Yep. And not that I have anything against dressing up, I just despise that it's made to sound dumb and particular to women.

Eileen: What annoys me is that men "dress up" too! There's nothing wrong with that and I don't understand why it's being made to sound like a bad thing exclusive to women.

Aissa: The casualness of the assumption annoys me too - it's like it's such a given that it doesn't need justification.

Ammu: I agree. He's basically offensive on two levels.

miss sophie: you have said before, even the quality of clothing sold to men by the same brand seems to be of better quality.

jess: ooh that was a great read, thanks for sharing. i also liked her review of Lean In.

kate: yes! and women are guilty of passing the same judgement, sadly.

stef: yes, that was a great read. i shall refer people to it the next time someone questions why i pay attention to the fashion weeks.

clementine: your sports comparison is an excellent one. imagine if newspapers had a daily section just about fashion...

marlene: good point. i think men are trapped in their own gender stereotypes too.

lindsay k: i agree, i have heard similar comments from my women friends...unconsciously women are our own worst enemies.
Anonymous said…
If hashion is considered a feminine domain, then how come most fashion designers are men? Something doesn't add up.

Popular Posts