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Fashion Is More Than Clothing
By Deniz Ataman
The Guardian recently published an article on the male-oriented fashion uniform in academia which caused some woolly static all over social media. Francesca Stavrakopoulo's response to this article explored the expectation of women to maintain their appearance in academia which revealed to me another devaluation of the feminine in our current culture.
Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening. -- Mademoiselle Coco Chanel
If fashion were a personality pie chart, clothing would only be a slice. With that said, one's personal fashion is about his/ her outlook on his/her perspective on this world. For some, clothing is a big slice, for others, a crumb.
For example, I believe in the power of textiles the way I believe in the power of words.
Fabric, cut, and fit can come together like a compelling poem, too. We choose particular fabrics to evoke particular slices of ourselves both practically and creatively.When it comes to clothing, whether you care or not, you are exploring your body. Which fabrics make your bodily bits feel good?
It's a personal experience, right?
Clothes can be used as a practical means or as a combination of both function and creativity (aka "funktional")—but either way, our threads are one form of inspiration for us to slug or strut our stuff; others may include music, film, food, nature, family. So what does it have to do with intellect?
Fashion should be a form of escapism, and not a form of imprisonment -- Alexander McQueen
The Guardian's article underlies a larger issue that concerns women fitting a mold. Academia is a male-dominated field. Apparently the attire is associated with more "masculine" fabrics like tweed, corduroy, and leather. Thus, women are expected to follow suit and wear the proverbial tie to match the fashionable intellect of their male peers. But even if women rocked their favorite tweed suits revolutionized by Mademoiselle Chanel, a kept woman still gets the striped noose for looking "too stylish" in a field that values brains over appearance.
How about this though - a man who gets his jeans tailored and pops into the barber for a straight razor shave is seen not only as refined, but he is encouraged to be well-educated.
Look, looks have nothing to do with intelligence. If a woman takes time to keep up her appearance, why is it so difficult to believe she also keeps up with the maintenance of her brain?
Frumpy does not equal intelligent. Stylish does not equal vapid. This goes for both sexes.
I believe woman stuttered about herself out of fear of what she had to say. She covered herself with taboos and veils. Man invented a woman to suit his needs. He disposed of her by identifying her with nature and then paraded his contemptuous domination of nature. But woman is not nature only. --Anaïs Nin
And as the old-school adage goes, "Never judge a book by its cover." Sure first impressions make an impact, but it's short-term. I think this is also an issue of our society still adhering to surface appearances—it's pretty easy with our racks of social media out there to snap on judgments and eschew researching what's beneath the makeup or suit.
Aside from women getting the distressed leather boot in academia for rocking heels or studded flats, our society as a whole still has a long way to go if we are still concerned with whether a woman's mascara length overrides her comparative thesis on Poe and H.P. Lovecraft (or whatever it is that quenches her brain).
In sum: As humans, dress for yourself. Think for yourself. And in the words of Mr. Henry Thoreau,
Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.
#Real #Women #Expectations #Fashion #GenderNorms# Humanism #Equality #Academia #ProfessionalLife
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