Femail watch – clothes and shoes edition

// 31 March 2008

femail.gifMen wearing “women’s” clothes

Men are increasingly reaching for “women’s” skinny jeans, the Daily Mail breathlessly reports this week. Aside from the small but important fact that this is hardly a new trend in men’s fashion, consider paragraphs like this:

And it’s not just fey poets and thespians who are sporting the trend. Since an outing in a sarong (and allegedly Victoria’s knickers), David Beckham has dabbled with female-inspired accessories, from make-up to a Louis Vuitton clutch bag.

“Fey poets and thespians”?!

Rest assured Mail readers, this is for Straight Men too, and hasn’t got anything to do with it becoming acceptable for men to wear clothes marketed at women:

“This trend has its roots in the music scene. Men on the street have been inspired by the look of the young guys in bands such as The Kooks and Klaxons.

“It’s not just about feminine touches, but a return to the androgynous, skinny look of the early Seventies.”

Heels: a natural product of evolution?

The fashion police theme continues, with this story about the new dress code at Ascot, and, even better, this sophisticated dissection of the reasons women wear heels:

“Men like an exaggerated female figure,” writes fashion historian Caroline Cox. The problem is that if all women wear high heels, such advantages tend to cancel out.

Height, after all, is a relative phenomenon. It may be advantageous to be taller than others, or at least not to be several inches shorter. But when all wear shoes that make them several inches taller, the relative height distribution is unaffected, so no one appears taller than if all had worn flat heels.

If women could decide collectively what shoes to wear, all might agree to forgo high heels. But because any individual can gain advantage by wearing them, such an agreement might be hard to maintain.

I do enjoy the thought of Cox imagining collective womanhood rising up en masse, literally rather than figuratively. But it’s a bit much to suggest that the reason women wear heels so often is because of some potential benefit from extra height. Nothing to do with endless messages suggesting that women can only be feminine and sexy in heels (and should only be feminine and sexy, and it being impossible to be sexy in any other way than being feminine); that heels are a natural extention of the female foot; that heels convey both ‘power’ and ‘sexy’, the latter making the former less threatening, presumably.

Beckham obsession

Then, yet another story in which an intrepid young journalist dons the same outfit as Victoria Beckham. Because it helps women’s self esteem to conduct sneering experiments about the stupidity of what other women are wearing.

Political correctness police

And, finally, Yasmin Whittaker-Khan writes in defence of Southall Black Sisters.

I paused before including this one in the hall of Femail shame: after all, I am of course extremely glad that a national newspaper has devoted column inches in support of SBS. But I couldn’t resist the twist of logic Whittaker-Khan engages in to do so:

In the name of community cohesion, Southall Black Sisters must bid to offer victim support services to people from the wider community, or close down.

Yep, her baffling argument is that “political correctness” has caused this issue to come about. What is politically correct about the concept of withdrawing funding for a service to support black and minority ethnic women who have experienced violence?!

Comments From You

Danny // Posted 31 March 2008 at 6:07 pm

It’s only baffling to people who don’t listen. The point, Jess, as you have been clearly informed several times, is that the focus here was exclusively – that’s EXCLUSIVELY! – on black and minority women and not on white women and/or men and everyone else who suffers domestic violence. Come on! Anyone who’s read the F-word recently knows that exclusive spaces for exclusive groups of people are just not allowed!

Why not stop preaching and start listening for a change? You might learn something.

Sammy // Posted 31 March 2008 at 6:35 pm

Danny – I think the real argument is that, of course, all-inclusive groups would be ideal, but it’s quite often the case that those groups are anything but all-inclusive. Even though it’s rather exclusionary to maintain a separate group, if it offers help to those who receive very little from allegedly “all-inclusive” groups then it can at least be considered a positive, if short-term, solution.

Also, to state that ‘exclusive spaces for exclusive groups’ aren’t allowed seems a little unusual when talking about a feminist website, given that exclusive spaces (albeit with the intention of a ‘greater good’) are so prevalent in feminism, however problematic that may be.

Danny // Posted 31 March 2008 at 10:56 pm

Sammy, for goodness sake! I was having an humourous/ironic pop at a heated post a while back about women-only spaces. This site, or some of its commentators/bloggers are getting terribly preachy lately.

We can be feminist and still do humour and irony….? Or not?

Jess McCabe // Posted 31 March 2008 at 11:06 pm

That was meant to be funny?

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