Monday, 26 April 2010

Different dresses

Someone asked me today to explain "the thinking behind" an outfit I had worn, and I might give you an edited version of that later. I don't know why he wanted to know yet, maybe just because it was very different from someone else's in the same context. But in looking up a reference (I wanted to point him to a picture that Anne Hollander had used as an illustration somewhere) I rediscovered this:

Anne Hollander, Sex and Suits:

It had first become clear in the early part of the nineteenth century that when all men wear a white tie and a black tailcoat in the evening, the individual character of each man is made more important, not less; and a curious effect then occurs in mixed company. If each woman at the ball is carefully wearing something different, the different costumes are what you see first across the room, making a variable scene; but consequently the faces might as well be all the same, just as if the same doll were dressed in many different ways. When two women wear the same dress, however, the first thing you see is how different the actual women really look.
I agree - nowadays, of course, the effect is reduced by men dressing more differently from one another.

Later in the same chapter, she continues:
... in fact the appeal of the modern suit in our period is still its combined look of comfort and crispness, with its neat collar and tie that perpetually defy the forces of hot weather, hard work and high anxiety, its uruffled tailored envelope suggesting an invincible physical aplomb, including sexual. No sweat-suits, cycling gear or wrinkled khakis can hope to convey such a superior level of ease.
And here in the margin I seem to have written, in pencil, "Roger Federer".


Golondrina said...

As for your outfit, I hope the questioning was in the positive and interested rather than the negative and impolite?

Anonymous said...

I think Anne Hollander has something there. When I first met Amor, we were practically naked. (we were scuba diving!) I wasn't attracted to him on many levels at the time. However, he needs to wear a suit for work and I find that quite sexy. There is nothing like a cleanshaven man in a freshly ironed shirt with tie, nice suit and polished shoes. He looks very professional and authoritative.
It is probably why I like dancing with guys in suits!

msHedgehog said...

@Golondrina, Oh yes. It turns out, it has occurred to him that maybe women use their outfits to signal how they want to dance. He enjoys dancing with me, so he wanted to find out how I chose an outfit I regularly wear, in the hope of using that to guess more accurately which other women he'd be likely to have an enjoyable dance with.

Anonymous said...

I do it as a leader. My dress is definitely a signal of the kind of dance I want to do - and the kind I don't.