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Decline of Dressing Well & Women's Lib?

post #1 of 43
Thread Starter 
I went to an interview a few days ago at a publishing company in Boston - nice building, beautiful offices. I figured I ought to dress up for the interview, so I put on my best pinstripe suit, a new & conservative G. Ferre tie, black wholecuts, linen square, etc. etc. I walk in and the third or forth thing I notice is the total absence of men in the office - not unusual, I think, for publishing, since I assume the feminine dominance of English Depts. translates into that field.

Nevertheless, it was striking that I didn't see a SINGLE man in my time there. And looking around, it occurred to me that I couldn't have any idea what the dress code was, because there's no way to translate the bewildering profusion of women's styles to men. No one wearing pant- or skirt-suits, so I guess that rules out a suit & tie code.

I started thinking that maybe part of the reason men have stopped dressing for work and the suit and tie is fading away as a uniform in many fields is the confusion engendered by the introduction of women into all levels of the workforce. I mean, it's hard to have a male oriented standard if your staff is half female, and even if you have separate ones that undermines the whole purpose of a uniform. I don't mean this in an accusatory way - "Women ruined the way men dress!!!" - but merely as an observation. Maybe I'm looking at it wrong, and of course there are other factors at work. But I'm thinking a large part of it is - women don't need to wear ties, why do we? Women don't need to wear jackets, why do we. It's easy to forget, in the SF context, that most men loathe donning a suit, even if it's how they look best(My father refuses to work at an office that forces him to wear a tie. I, conversely, refuse to work at one where I can't!)

Anyways, longwinded thesis. But if I get the job, I'll definitely wear a suit whenever I can. Holding the line, as it were. Plus, I think being a sharply turned out young, educated man probably helps my interview prospects in an office full of young and middle-aged professional women!!
post #2 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Augusto86 View Post
Nevertheless, it was striking that I didn't see a SINGLE man in my time there.

Perfect mating ground, hope you don't stay single.

No one will crucify you if you wear a suit to that office IMO.
post #3 of 43
Just a couple of observations. First, it must be 20 years or more since I've heard the term "women's lib" applied to modern feminist trends. That is what some early stages of the women's movement were labeled, but we're really talking about early 1970s, I think. Second, I don't think that an increase of women in the workplace has had anything to do with the decline of men's dress either at work or more generally. In my opinion, the single factor most responsible is the advent of "business casual," and it's worth noting that this concept has been much more problematic for women than for men. Since there is far less variability in the template of men's clothing than that of women's, the meaning of "business casual" has been easier to divine for men, and it can be pretty easily spelled out on an organization-by-organization basis--e.g., at the XYZ company, it means no tie, cotton trousers, and jacket or not, but definitely not a suit. For women, on the other hand, the clothing variables are just too numerous to reduce the "business casual" equation to such simple terms. This creates much anxiety and resentment in professional women in particular.
post #4 of 43
I was about to wholeheartedly disagree with you until I read this point.

It's true, the younger generation today loathes to wear suits and if they can justify the lack of suit and tie by the fact that women aren't required to do so then I do see some validity in your point. I don't think it's a cause, but it may be a contributing factor.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Augusto86 View Post
. But I'm thinking a large part of it is - women don't need to wear ties, why do we? Women don't need to wear jackets, why do we. It's easy to forget, in the SF context, that most men loathe donning a suit
post #5 of 43
No, it is just the times in which were living today. A world of Wal-Mart's, McDonalds's, and really no real reason to impress anyone. Hell, I could wear my pants belted around mid-thigh and still get laid.
post #6 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Augusto86 View Post
I walk in and the third or forth thing I notice is the total absence of men in the office - not unusual, I

Professionally, this can be a nightmare.

The # of all/mostly women offices i've been in....non profits...

Thank goodness I work for the bad guys now.
post #7 of 43
A good point. Back in my lean years in the 1970s, I spent three years working for an insurance company, mostly writing the fine print of group insurance policies. There was a coat and tie dress code for the men, but the women by then had carte blanche, and many of them were wearing T-shirt and jeans. The disparity was very noticeable. We were all miserably paid, and it was hard for us men to look good with the cheap clothing we could afford, and most of us didn't. I envied the women at the time, not so much on issues of comfort as on issues of economy.

On a slightly different note, one thing that has struck me in recent years is the "unisex" character of so much casual clothing. Both sexes dress very similarly in shorts, T-shirts, jeans, sweat shirts, sneakers and sandals. In some cases, particularly in the case of overweight people, I often find it difficult to determine the sex of a person approaching me until they are quite close! It is somewhat ironic: Men who like to dress well in a classic manner are often accused of being effeminate, gay or whatever. However, when I stop at the market tonight, the odds that I will see a woman wearing, inter alia, a tweed jacket, wool tie and suede chukkas, in other words, dressed very similar to me, are infinitesimally remote. However, if I were dressed in commonplace "guy" clothes--sneakers, jeans, T-shirt--it would be a near certainty that I would encounter women almost identically attired.
post #8 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by WestIndianArchie View Post
Professionally, this can be a nightmare.

The # of all/mostly women offices i've been in....non profits...

Thank goodness I work for the bad guys now.

I worry about this but I'm hoping that it's not the case.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JLibourel View Post
A good point. Back in my lean years in the 1970s, I spent three years working for an insurance company, mostly writing the fine print of group insurance policies. There was a coat and tie dress code for the men, but the women by then had carte blanche, and many of them were wearing T-shirt and jeans. The disparity was very noticeable. We were all miserably paid, and it was hard for us men to look good with the cheap clothing we could afford, and most of us didn't. I envied the women at the time, not so much on issues of comfort as on issues of economy.

On a slightly different note, one thing that has struck me in recent years is the "unisex" character of so much casual clothing. Both sexes dress very similarly in shorts, T-shirts, jeans, sweat shirts, sneakers and sandals. In some cases, particularly in the case of overweight people, I often find it difficult to determine the sex of a person approaching me until they are quite close! It is somewhat ironic: Men who like to dress well in a classic manner are often accused of being effeminate, gay or whatever. However, when I stop at the market tonight, the odds that I will see a woman wearing, inter alia, a tweed jacket, wool tie and suede chukkas, in other words, dressed very similar to me, are infinitesimally remote. However, if I were dressed in commonplace "guy" clothes--sneakers, jeans, T-shirt--it would be a near certainty that I would encounter women almost identically attired.

Funny I just applied for a job copy-editing the same - interview went well but it's an EXTREME fallback, because I actually know, with 100% certainty, I would hate the job. I'll take it if nothing else comes but goddamn did it seem like soul-crushingly bad work.

I would like to see a woman in tweed, tie and suede boots. I dislike "unisex" clothing in the extreme - see American Apparel - but I love a woman in man's clothing. A woman wearing a tie, a woman wearing a (properly fitted) suit, and best of all a woman wearing one of your dress shirts - these are the finer things in life. A
post #9 of 43
in the immortal words of the great DC politician, Marion Barry, "The bitch set me up."
post #10 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger View Post
Second, I don't think that an increase of women in the workplace has had anything to do with the decline of men's dress either at work or more generally. In my opinion, the single factor most responsible is the advent of "business casual," and it's worth noting that this concept has been much more problematic for women than for men.

Headline goes like this...

Quote:
WORLD ENDS TOMORROW: Women and minorities hardest hit.

Augusto, don't you know the business suit is an external representation of the male patriarchal hegemony? The tie, in all its glorious style, is nothing more than a phallic representation to be worn publically. The suit is constructed to be hypermasculine, with broadened shoulders and narrowed waist, to again, emphasize the dominance of the male. I do not know how you could even wear such a thing to a job interview!

Interesting thesis actually IMO.
post #11 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Piobaire View Post
Headline goes like this...



Augusto, don't you know the business suit is an external representation of the male patriarchal hegemony? The tie, in all its glorious style, is nothing more than a phallic representation to be worn publically. The suit is constructed to be hypermasculine, with broadened shoulders and narrowed waist, to again, emphasize the dominance of the male. I do not know how you could even wear such a thing to a job interview!

Interesting thesis actually IMO.

I'm going to apply my English Major skills to your thesis and deconstruct the Freudian meaning of:

  • Skinny Ties
  • Square-ended, 'clipped' ties
  • Paisley?
  • Tie clips
post #12 of 43
nevermind
post #13 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Augusto86 View Post
Funny I just applied for a job copy-editing the same - interview went well but it's an EXTREME fallback, because I actually know, with 100% certainty, I would hate the job. I'll take it if nothing else comes but goddamn did it seem like soul-crushingly bad work.

I would like to see a woman in tweed, tie and suede boots. I dislike "unisex" clothing in the extreme - see American Apparel - but I love a woman in man's clothing. A woman wearing a tie, a woman wearing a (properly fitted) suit, and best of all a woman wearing one of your dress shirts - these are the finer things in life. A

Actually, the job of writing the text of the contracts was intellectually challenging and kind of fun--the lousy pay, the crappy work environment and the fascistic management style made the job pretty miserable, though.

I know what you mean about women in tweed and ties, etc. In that new book about Savile Row (whose title eludes me at the moment), the person whose outfit I liked the best, mirabile dictu, was none other than Madonna! She was wearing a great-looking brown herringbone tweed suit.
post #14 of 43
Regardless of the whole suit issue I do find it truly interesting how today's average man almost seems to resist dressing up in any fashion that looks pleasing. It seems dress in our time is an anomoly compared to centuries prior, but then again there's that oh-so-fabulous Project Runway! I guess many believe fine attire is only for celebrities, and many of them are not the best to look up to for satorial advice.

It is difficult to buy decent clothes today in many places without it being a hobby. There isn't a single fine clothing retailer in my area. An ill-fitting suit can look atrocious, whilst finding a T-shirt that fits OK is a much easier task. Neither is there anyplace close to me where one can buy a leather soled pair of shoes; hence, I can understand while some will settle for frumpy shoes because trying shoes on through the internet is a pain.

Another problem is that some think of a man wearing a well-fitted suit as inherently feminine.
post #15 of 43
I think the decline of dressing well has to do less with women and more with the mentality of a large number of Americans.

Bill Maher said it best when he did a story on the popularity of Crocs "Americans won't be happy until we can go to the mall on the weekends in a diaper".

It's the whole Mass produced Kmart mindset that is shoved down our throats and forced into our communites. Why buy a good quality $900 suit that will last you a good 6 years when I can just buy a new low quality $100 suit every year? Why even wear a suit when if I don't have to? This is why we are seeing less and less men's boutiques. Most American's don't care about quality or fit, as long as it's quick, cheap and one of the major US brands. Most people don't even know how bad they dress and there's no one to tell them because everyone else dresses just as bad.

This mostly goes for men, I think that woman right now are ahead of men when it comes quality in fashion. That is way there are still a ton of women's boutiques around.

I am not saying everyone else is WRONG, though. That's the way of the world in this day and age. The economy has a lot to do with it. People are more worried about how they're going to buy gas to get to work more than they are about bespoke shoes.

I do believe in quality goods (which is why I started my fashion company), and I do believe that there are alot of people in this country like us who care about fashion and quality.

Everyone else just needs to sign up for style forum so they can see the light
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