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Glamour magazine and the black trouser curse

woman wearing black trousers– My quest to count the number of women wearing sheer hosiery continues – I’m up to 45 already this morning and I can regularly add another 80-100 to that at lunchtimes if I make the effort to go for a wander out of the office. It’s a kind of solitary pursuit but keeps me relatively happy when I haven’t got any friends. 🙂

However, while doing this it has struck me that if I was counting the number of women wearing black trousers I would, paradoxically, lose count. There are hundreds of them. Where did that one spring from? It’s not until you start actually thinking about it that you spot just exactly how many there are. I suppose it shouldn’t be a mystery to me – I do after all, frequent clothes shops where such things are sold – but it’s the way it’s become such an urban uniform that makes me think there’s something going on. It’s tempting to blame All Saints, not because they particularly wore black, but mainly because they are the most sexless trouser wearing girl group that springs to mind. Others are probably just as bad (B*Witched?) but really All Saints get my vote as the most overrated, culturally dangerous musical phenomenon of the last five years.

I digress. The trouser situation prompted lots of thought last night when I was on my way home. Okay so they may be practical in some instances for work wear, but for going out in? I ask you… What triggered me especially was, ironically, a woman in yellow trousers. I tried to get inside her mind, to understand what exactly prompted such a fashion faux pas. However mistaken, (as otherwise she seemed to care about her appearance), she must have thought “these will look nice”, ergo “these will make me acceptable, presentable, and attractive.” Believe me, they weren’t a casual no-thought choice. But if she was choosing clothes to look acceptable, presentable, and attractive, what on earth prompted the yellow disaster? Was she not aware that she could have achieved much greater success with far less struggle by simply doing the honourable thing vis a vis skirt/stockings? All this led me deeper into thought, so I apologise if I’m rambling here. But in essence, there seems to be a great contradiction at play here: lots of women still seem to be making an enormous effort to dress to impress. And yet unless I’m mistaken they could save themselves a lot of that struggle, and impress far more, by just ditching the whole black trouser fad. Having said that, go into any young women’s clothes shop and try to buy hosiery and you’ll see that it’s actually quite hard to do.

The truth of this came to me when I was reading a copy of the new UK version of the magazine Glamour at the weekend. Within it were a list of “things that turn him on”: three columns of such fantastic insight as “high heels” (no? really?!) and the like. Obviously I looked for stockings, imagining they would be up there at approximately number one, only to find hold-ups half way down the second column and suspenders not mentioned at all. What’s all that about then? This is a magazine, I assume, written by and aimed at women, and yet again it has failed to remind us that basically sheer hosiery hits the spot on a phenomenal number of occasions, and actually, girls, it’s really exceptionally easy!

Anyway, apologies for the stream of consciousness thing this morning. I just am amazed sometimes at how we over complicate the world. Some things are really very simple, and yet some quest for deeper meaning or self-justification on behalf of those in a position of authority means the obvious, logical thing is often overlooked. Then we all suffer in a less colourful, less efficient world.

– The black trouser thing (or trousers at all) illustrate one of the curses of women’s fashion. Subconsciously they want to look sexy and attract men, but in these days of feminism they daren’t admit it! So they dress in what fashion magazines tell them is sexy… if they aren’t looking as good as they could, at least they are with the crowd and feel comfortable. This idea is the basis for the whole fashion industry.

A while back on Australian TV there was a segment in a current affairs show where women were lamenting their ability to find a husband. All were good looking executives, and the “conclusion” that the segment came to, aided by the input of the women in question was that “work keeps me too busy for socializing”… yet every one of the women was wearing either trousers or long skirts! If they were DETERMINED to find a man, I could help them… simply dress to attract one and drop your guilt about looking sexy.

As for “Glamour” don’t knock it… the “Dos and Don’ts” section is my favourite reading! 🙂 … one so often sees “clothing disarrangement” there.

– Yes, the ubiquitous black trouser-and-boots or black pantsuit-and-boots look. (Can I escape it?!) I agree. These women obviously want to look fashionable. And while there’s some feminine flourish in the suits’ or pants’ cuts or in a (sometimes) elongated heeled boot, it greatly pales by comparison to dresses, skirts or high-heeled shoes, not to mention wonderful hosiery-clad legs. I suppose the pant look is the epitome of fashion in the current generally defeminised clothing world. I now see women in very elegant restaurants or on very special social occasions dressed this way. But that’s not surprising. It’s the worst time for women’s fashion in the post-war (and I mean WWII) era. Come think of it, has it ever been worse, at least this century?

– If I may expand upon a theme you raised I think we are becoming a world of short-attention-span, move-onto-the-next-thing morons. We are constantly equating brevity, speed and convenience with efficiency and progress.

Pantyhose (tights) are a perfect metaphor for this sound-bite lifestyle. I believe most women see pantyhose as quick and easy. No getting the seams straight, No tabs, no snaps, no fuss, no muss. Quickly into, quickly out of. No wondering if the welt is showing. Hey, its nylon, it covers the legs, you can get them everywhere … good… fine… now lets get on to the next thing! It’s the same with women wearing trousers. Sure they’re traditionally a masculine garment but they’re quick and easy. Quickly into, quickly out of. No wondering if one is sitting properly, no worrying about bending and reaching. Hey, it covers the lower extremities, you can get them everywhere… good… fine… now lets get onto the next thing.

We’ve succeeded in dumbing-down clothes! Brevity, speed and convenience. Over here in the colonies I have more than 250 channels on my digital TV cable. My floppy has given way to my ZIP drive. My computer is tied to the Internet with top-speed broadband. My desktop yields to my laptop and it is giving way to my Palm Pilot. My fax is 56k. My cell phone is at arms length and hands-free in my car. All or part of my meals are microwaved even at the most exclusive restaurants. McDonalds is the biggest restaurant chain in the world. More Americans eat home-delivered pizza each night than any other carry-out or delivered food. Brevity, speed and convenience are becoming the most sought after features in any product. The next logical step is disposability and it is already here. Everything from cameras to hearing aids to contact lenses is becoming single (or limited) use and the toss it out. We are becoming human recycle bins.

This forum demonstrates that some of us will not be swept along in the currently fashionable current of mediocrity born of convenience. Some women will wear trousers as business or semi-formal attire (and then wonder why the men are entranced by the woman is a dress and stockings.) Some of us will continue to use fountain pens. Some women will wear stockings and garterbelts. And, some of us will continue to resist the mundane, the shoddy and the basically utilitarian and seek out and gloriously celebrate the distinctive in every facet of our lives. Some of us will do this because we seek to be individuals or because we appreciate the thrill of it or simply because we realise that the truest freedom comes in choosing to live our lives uniquely.

– Black trousers are a scourge here in NYC too. And when ladies do wear skirts, especially now that the weather is getting warm (’80s today), hose have been given the 8-Track Tape treatment. On my walk from Penn Station to my office in midtown today, I must have seen over 100 ladies wearing skirts. Almost every single one of them had bare legs. It used to be, when the no-hose trend started, that ladies would only go bare when their legs were well-tanned. That is no more. I saw more pasty white legs today than I could count. This does not bode well for the summer. I guess hose is definitely out.

– Well, here in Boston, the black trousers brigade is still on the loose, as well as this horrid new strain of virus called no-hose.

As I sat on the train today, I observed a fair number of other attractive young women all wearing skirts of various colours and lengths, BUT NO NYLONS! Ugh! it just made their whole attempt at style go right out the window! My mother always used to say, there are two things that make woman a lady – lipstick and nylons.

Perhaps that’s the problem these days – we’re all concentrating on being “women”, that the essence of being a lady has been forgotten. There’s also a level of fear – not from the male population, but from other women – that if you dress and act like a lady, you’re selling out the sisterhood. And, let’s face it, dressing like this every day takes time and effort. However, it doesn’t take me any longer in the mornings to get dressed in a suit, stockings and heels than it did when I put on jeans and a sweater. In fact, now I take more pride in my appearance, and it’s a nice feeling.

And as for fashion mags, I personally prefer Marie Claire – it’s aimed at an older demographic – the over 30 crowd – and actually dares to show a more representative cross-section of women. Someone out there actually knows that we’re not all size 8s and eat nothing but iceberg lettuce. And the Splurge vs. Steal feature is great!

– The black trouser look is also quite popular here in San Francisco, as well as the “no-hose” with a dress fashion trend. Ouch. I went to a concert last night and saw some gorgeous-looking dresses on women in the crowd, but all complemented with bare legs. As for fashion magazines, I used to love to read Marie Claire; in the mid’90s, the fashion spreads almost *always* featured women in hosiery – sometimes stocking tops were blatantly revealed! Wooh. Now it’s almost all bare-leg. However there was one almost-nice sidenote in Adair Lara’s column in the SF Chronicle where she mentions about doing a book-tour with her 22-yr-old daughter, and how at their Good Morning America appearance, she briefly thought about how she wished she had told her daughter to wear some nylons. Something like that. It was a very nice line to read; the thought counts!

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