Tag Archives: fashion

Evolution of the Tie

ties, neckties, neckwear, scarves, fashion, clothing, accessories, men's fashion


A myriad of modern ties. From GQ.com

Ever wonder where the tie came from, that rather useless modicum of clothing that has become the standard of business attire? It actually has a long evolution from a functional item to what it is today. The tie began its life in a very different form. Imagine a frog’s egg that becomes a tadpole and eventually a frog, or a caterpillar that builds its chrysalis and turns into a butterfly. That is the range from which the tie has evolved.

In the early days of civilization and human invention, people had to discover and puzzle out everything. When they finally moved from wearing furs, skins and large leaves, they began to figure out how to make threads from plants and weave them. The first looms were not large and like looms to this day, made rectangles of fabric. Once the weaver had their rectangle of fabric, they wrapped it around themselves. Pins and stitching developed, and because making fabric was time consuming and expensive, no piece was wasted. Early clothing was made by rectangular construction, meaning that rectangles from those looms were piece together. Sometimes the fabric was cut and piece but rectangles, squares and triangles were as inventive as early clothing got.

This is a simplification, and there are areas where sophistication in patterning was more advanced. But

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Ye old cravat from the early 1800s.

let’s get back to the tie’s birth. It actually starts with the outwear that people needed to protect themselves from the elements. The earliest forms were called mantles and were rectangles of fabric, sheepskin or furs. I’m talking mostly about European origins and these were closed with large pins and clasps. The mantle developed into the cloak, with piecing of rectangles. However, hats and hoods were made separately because the ability to put the two together was not yet there.

The hoods had an overlap and sat atop the cloak. The point or tail of the hood could be different lengths and was sometimes quite long so that it could be wrapped around the neck of the hood to keep the wind and rain out. The long tail was called a liripipe and eventually that hood was worn in different ways. Plopped on top of the head with the tail wrapped to hold up the dagged edge in a cockscomb way, the fashion changed away.

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This cravat is more of an Ascot tie.

Collars came about and had been used in other countries for a while, such as with the Chinese and Mongols. A scarf or kerchief was used selectively, such as with the Roman army, but as an actual dress item it was a slower process. But the wrapping around the throat of extra fabric came about in the 1600s. Croatian soldiers in France wore red kerchiefs around their necks and the French decided this was a cool and wonderful thing. They adopted it into fashion and the word cravat comes from Croat.

The cravat was usually white and often an elaborate affair of frills and ruffs tied in various ways. Here is where something to keep the neck warm changed to something to adorn the neck. There was also the stock in the 1700s, a piece of fabric wound around the throat. In some weird way it might have been a very shrunken version of the ruff, which was popular in the early 1600s. A long separate piece of fabric, like the scarf, was not common until the 1800s. But that cravat got a workout from the Baroque to the Rococo and beyond.

By the 1800s you have scarves and ties, and the ties begin to morph in size and shape. There’s the Ascot tie, the bow tie, the long tie and the most essentially inane tie ever, the bolo tie, created in the 1940s. Ties became part of formal dress that hasn’t changed much since Victorian times. They’ve been long and short, narrow and wide, dull and paisley, and a variety of colors. Considering the conservatism of men’s clothing I imagine we’ll have another century of ties, and while some formal dress no longer requires the tie, it seems it will stick around as male fabric adornment for a while yet.

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Fluevog Shoes: The Good, the Bad, the Dangerous?

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An early Fluevog shoe with the square heel similar to the witch boots.

John Fluevog is a local name in Vancouver. He began designing shoes in the early 70s and has gone on to international fame for avant garde designs. I used to own an early pair (80s) of Fluevog boots that I bought second hand. I called them my witch boots. They had a heel that sloped out to a square, a squared off pointy toe, a turnover cuff, and a big silver buckle on the front. Made of black suede with a thin, hard plastic sole, they weren’t the most comfortable or well made boots, and were actually a size too big but they were fun. I eventually passed them on. I also had (and still have) some Peter Fox shoes, and originally Fox and Fluevog was the name of the shoe store the two men opened up.

I’ve often gone by the Fluevog store and looked at the crazy designs. Sometimes they don’t appeal, sometimes they do but they’re not cheap shoes. You’re looking at an average price of over $200 for a shoe. I would say  a “basic shoe” but there is no such thing in Fluevogs. From sandals to boots, there are dressy and casual but always unique. I needed a new pair of boots last fall so I checked out Fluevog. Boots are never cheap and because I have large calves not easy to find ones that go above the ankle, and I hate boots that stop at the ankle.

I have bought lace up boots for years and Fluevog had a range. Unfortunately many are just too narrow for my calves. I covet tall boots but they’re rare to find. I’ve been thinking of getting into steampunk too and tried on the Monday boot. The looked great. At $299 they couldn’t be less so I bought them.

I have problem feet. They are extremely wide and I need orthotics, which never work that well. Although I have dress shoe orthotics I gave up on getting them to ever work in boots. So I wanted something that would be comfortable for a reasonable length of time. The soles on these boots are leather, with not a lot of extra padding but fairly thick as it is. The top is brushed suede with decorative silver stitching. The lower boot is of a matte style leather, slightly rough, a bit shiny.

I started wearing the boots right away and within two months the laces were being chewed to pieces by the grommet holes on the boot. While metal grommets will wear on laces eventually, these were rough enough to destroy the lace rather quickly. On top of that, putting on the boot one day, there was something bunching around the toe. The leather insole that covers the nails and stitching had come loose. Fluevog fixed this as there is an 8-month warranty, but I was still surprised it happened. On top of that, the moment you polish the boot that rough matte look tamps down to shiny black. As well, the heel has a hard plastic bottom. I have found when walking on an incline of wet pavement that this slips. I haven’t fallen yet but I have to walk carefully, putting my foot down firmly so I don’t slide. That is dangerous.

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Made of suede and leather, the inside says “Another Day with Hope.”

The good thing about these boots is that they are extremely comfortable, even more than I expected for feet that get sore. I haven’t had any boot or shoe in years that is so well balanced that the weight is distributed along the entire foot. The weight doesn’t rest on the ball of the foot alone (the cause of my orthotics) but is carried also by the heel. This is why stilettos can be very hard to wear. Tiny pencil heels and a small sole area increase the pounds-per-square-inch pressure that your feet carry. So kudos to Fluevog for being the only shoe designer out there who seems to get it.

When I bought the boots I had tried on some not so flattering shoes and some, like the Wonder Ayers, were very cute. They came in black and olive green. I could not afford two pairs of Fluevogs and the boots were more a necessity. But I thought of the shoes for two months and when I took the boots in to be fixed they had this pinky purple color. One thing my friends know about me is that I love color. I’d just finished a freelance job and couldn’t resist. Three hundred dollars later, I had the Ayers shoe, which was not too tall in the heel and turned up at the toe. I love ankle straps and this pair has two. How could I lose? They’re also well balanced at distributing the weight and centering it along the foot.

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The Wonder Ayers, fun and stylish

I didn’t wear these for the first month as it was too cold and rainy. I wore them a bit at a time to break them in and stretch them. In the first month I slipped twice on linoleum floors and went down so fast I couldn’t break the fall. Luckily my heel slipped sideways and I went down along my leg and knee, bruising the knee one time. The same material is on this heel, and the side of the plastic is actually edged to a corner halfway up the side. This is the plastic piece on the heel that protects the shoe itself from wear.

I started to get scuffs on the toes because of the style and while that’s expected I found out Fluevog does not carry the polish to match these shoes, so I’m stuck. Even the polish they gave the shoes when I took them in for repairs doesn’t quite match the original color, not to mention it would be hard to polish around the white stitching. Neither of these are the biggest problems with this shoe. At less than three months old, with less than two months of wear I noticed the leather sole pulling away from the shoe, and then I saw the leather was ripping along the inner side at the top where the shoe bends. When I took them in Fluevog should have given me a new pair, considering price and age, but they sent them off for repair. The leather soles have been replaced with Topy soles and they’ve put a fairly invisible patch on the inside of the shoe to stop the tearing.  But I’m not happy.

For comfort and style and innovation, Fluevog gets a 9-10. For customer service, a 7–each time they’ve said, oh this hasn’t happened before, so am I buying the only bad pairs out there? For materials and support items (polish) they get a 5. The colors are good, the stitching well done, the leather feels good, but rough grommet holes, hard plastic heels that are dangerous, soles the pull away and leather that splits brings Fluevog’s score down. While the materials are better than those early pair, Fluevog still has room for improvement, especially when the shoes are so pricey.  That’s 72% for shoes that should be 85% and above.

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Evolution of the Platform Shoe

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We used to call these FM pumps (f**k me) because they weren’t meant to be walked in. Creative Commons: by extraitaly flickr phil sidek gallery.

I’ve been noticing the ultra high heels that are in fashion now; stiletto heels, with a platform front. Because I spent far too many years in four-inch heels or higher I now have to watch what I wear, though with smart shopping and choosing the time to wear my shoe I can get away with a heel if not quite that high. So, obviously the current fashion has decided women need to be uber tall or that they need to be uber sexy on super spiky heels but because many women would feel a little unbalanced, the platform has been added which takes down the overall height from your heel to your toe.

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The medieval shoe never had much of a heel, except for doubled layers of leather. From: feastgarb.tumblr.com

While the hyper sexualization of our society is partly to blame for everyone having to wear FM pumps now, these are not in fact the tallest shoes in history. The history of the platform shoe begins centuries ago. Japan of course had the geta or wooden sandals but if we look at Europe, there is a wealth of information there.

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This is a reproduction of the medieval shoe, with pattens. From: The Art Room Plant

To understand how a wood-based or platformed shoe came about one must  understand that early shoes throughout Europe were only made of leather. As the technology and understanding of patternmaking progressed shoes had firmer and thicker soles, usually made up of several pieces of thick leather and might also have been boiled leather, a process of penetrating the leather with liquid beeswax, which not only hardens the leather but also makes it waterproof. Remember that lanes and paths would only be of mother earth and slowly developed into wood planks and cobblestones. Even walking in Europe last year with rubber-soled shoes, I found some of those cobblestones rather hard to walk upon.

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The chopine, still made for a shoe or slipper to fit into it. From the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

No matter how well you waterproof something, if you’re walking through sucking mud and rain a lot your shoes are going to get ruined, and unlike people today, buying a new pair from a cobbler might be a year’s worth of spare change. People preserved their clothing and wore them out, often reusing parts in a new piece. One of the answers to uncomfortable cobblestones and mud was to use the patten. This was a wooden base that you slipped the leather shoe into. Shoes would eventually develop a heel made of wood.

Fashion always played  a part and as you can see by the red shoes, color and shape were important. The points of shoes got to ridiculous lengths and had to be gartered to the calf. And of course they rose to a silly height.

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Chopines of the Venetian bent. From the Bata shoe museum.

Enter the Renaissance, those crazy kids who loved color and men in tights and other fun stuff like Machiavelli. The Italians invented the chopines. They didn’t just look at the utilitarian aspects of keeping out of the mud; they looked at the prestige of being able to tower over your neighbor. Consider platforms that are 30 inches tall! Yes, one could show off their wealth by walking around on these mini stilts, with the help of two assistants.

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1940 platform shoes were modest. From: the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute

Sanity and shoe heights leveled out after that but the first 20th century platform was the peekaboo toe shoe of the 1940s (my favorite). This was a shoe with a heel and a modest platform of an inch at most. Of course the Renaissance was revisited in the 1970s with the blocky platform sandal and pretty much from there we have seen every evolution of the platform (platform sports shoes) since then. Except…no one has gone back to the towering heights of the chopine, probably because in this litigious society shoe companies would be sued out of existence.

Except maybe Alexander McQueen’s frightening horse hoof shoes. They’re insanely tall (though not quite 30 inches) and are the equivalent of monster trucks for people. I can’t say I’ve seen these catch on with anyone yet, and probably with good reason. Maybe next we’ll have pogo platforms. What fun those will be.

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The snake had indigestion. Possibly the ugliest platform in creation, Alexander McQueen’s creation.

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How to Wear Skirts and Man-Skirts

The art of wearing a skirt well is not as easy as tossing it on and just walking. In fact, different lengths have different issues.

SHORT SKIRTS

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Be careful of the Bermuda Triangle when you sit in a miniskirt. Creative Commons: Macleans.ca

A short, micro or miniskirt takes a certain degree of elegance if you want to maintain decorum and not look like a tart. Learn how to pick something up from the floor or a table without revealing all of your underpinnings. If you have to pick up something it’s best to bend at the knees and go straight down. Bending at the waist is sure to be revealing. Oh, and wearing underwear is an absolute must with short skirts. Make sure that if a chance unveiling happens that you are okay with what’s revealed, both in flesh and in material.

Some miniskirts are fairly form fitting. If you’re buying one, trying walking around in it first and see if it rides up or pouches at the belly. The other thing to check that not many of us think about is sitting in a skirt. The butt will widen and can cause constrictions or riding up. As well, there is that triangle of revelation between skirt and legs that can introduce any viewer at the same level or lower than you to an eyeful. Think Basic Instinct here. If your skirt is that short, you may have to cross your legs or place your hands or purse in a strategic position to keep the Bermuda Triangle hidden.

Short but full skirts are better at covering the Triangle but have the same problems for bending over. And of course, you have to watch the wind. A Marilyn moment in a short flouncy skirt is going to display more than your thighs. Many women now opt for dark tights with short skirts but that’s not always going to be a choice in the summer. You definitely don’t want to be lifting boxes in this length of skirt.

MID-LENGTH SKIRTS

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These midlength skirts are narrow enough you might need to hitch them to walk up stairs. Creative Commons Marc Jacobs

I consider any skirt from just above the knee to mid-calf to be a mid-length skirt. You don’t have to contend with displaying intimate details as you do with the short skirt but there are other issues. The tube or stovepipe skirt can be so tight that walking becomes an art. If you try to walk or stride you’ll either rip the material or fall over. Many of these skirts have an open slit in the back that facilitates walking, but you many still have to take delicate half-steps. Think of the kimono and how Japanese women mince along on the wooden sandals, called geta. To sit in a skirt this tight (if it is not stretchy material) means you might have to hike it up and you probably don’t want to cross your legs, even if there is room to do so. It would be quite constricting. If your skirt is particularly binding, you might find it difficult to bend your knees enough to mount the stairs. In this case you actually have to hitch your hip up to accommodate, or hike your skirt to give your knees room to bend.

A full skirt gives you ease of walking, but has other issues. If it’s really full it can tend to gather between your legs until you feel like you’re wearing a diaper, not to mention it doesn’t look that great. One way to deal with this is to gather a little bit in you hands to hold it out. The other is to wear a slip. Not only does this stop the transparent effects of the sun (or particular types of artificial lighting), but it will decrease the gathering of fabric. Slips are rarely as voluminous as a skirt, unless you’re dealing with the full circle where a full and ruffled slip is required to hold it out, which also stops it from going between the legs. And again, the fuller the skirt, the more you have to watch the wind, which really loves to play with fabric. The only thing with sitting that you have to watch with this length and style  is that it doesn’t end up with someone sitting on  part of it. Sometimes wearing a coat over top with a purse can cause a skirt to ride up. You might want to test that because it could show more than you’re anticipating.

FLOOR OR ANKLE-LENGTH SKIRTS

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This length might mean you have to develop the kick-step, depending on fabric and flow. Creative Commons: Michael Kors

Not all of these are evening gowns and I wear some ankle-length skirts from time to time. It’s rare to find fitted ones this long unless there is a slit, but a fishtail or tulip style may be fitted to the knees, then flare out. Again, you’ll probably have to practice walking elegantly. More common will be an A-line or fuller skirt. If the skirt actually touches the floor you’ll have to work out a kick-step that lets you kick the fabric out before stepping forward so you’re not tripping yourself. Going up stairs requires you to gather the fabric in a hand, but you might want to do this going down the stairs as well. Steps are strewn with garbage, or just wet, and a long skirt will trail behind. As well, anyone walking behind you might step on your skirt, resulting in tearing or worse, a fall.

Shoes and long skirts can make a dangerous combination. If you’re wearing heels, watch out. I’ve had my heel catch in the hem of a skirt that had slightly stretchy material and almost topple me down the stairs. If you’re on a chair with roller wheels, be careful that your skirt doesn’t get wound around the wheels. This has happened to me a few times.

MAN-SKIRTS OR KILTS

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Fashion gone wrong. Jean Paul Gaultier’s version of a manly man skirt.

Some men like to wear skirts and they’re not all gay. Others feel more comfortable calling these kilts, and the Utilikilt has gained great popularity amongst the male set. It’s a modern version made of heavyweight canvas and lacking the plaid of yesteryear’s kilt. Whether wearing a skirt or a kilt, men especially need to learn the art of wearing the skirt. Most of these are midlength so walking isn’t an issue but sitting can be a man’s undoing. Men often sit with their legs apart and if you happen to be going regimental (naked) beneath your kilt you better keep an eye on the capricious wind. I’ve had the unfortunate experience of sitting on the ground when I guy in a kilt came up and squatted in front of me. Ding dong, I saw far too much dangling. Guys, anyone at eye level and below can see a lot and it ain’t pretty. So, men, learn to either cross your ankles, close your knees, put your hands in your lap or use a pouch. That’s what the historical sporran was for besides storing valuables; it protected and hid the family jewels.

If you’re not sure how you’re going to look walking or sitting in any skirt or kilt, practice. Get a friend to give you hints but please, keep the treasures buried except for your special someone.

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The Skinny On Models

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In the fashion industry, this is a normal size. Creative Commons: scrapetv.com

I’ve talked about this before, but it bears repeating. Back many years ago when I was in the throes of my eating disorder, classified as bulimia, I attended some group counseling sessions. Now my bulimia was not the normal one, where you gorge and vomit. I didn’t vomit. I starved myself, then gorged and then my bodily functions did a bit of a natural purge, but it was an uncontrolled desperate, self-hating way of eating and never on healthy foods. People with eating disorders never gorge on carrots or celery.

Now this counseling group was in the evenings at the psychiatrist’s home. I was the ugly duckling amongst the swans, but those swans were emaciated, walking sticks. Pretty much all of them were models dealing with anorexia. I remember the doctor asking once, “How many people have known someone who died from an eating disorder?” I didn’t but probably 80% of those models had known someone who starved themselves to death. The video below shows Isabelle Caro who died a few years after this was made at the age of 28. She looks 60.

And yet, twenty years later, we still see that the modeling, acting, dancing  and gymnastic sports industries have a prevalence toward the ultra thin person. Ultra thin to the point of sickeningly unhealthy. When I hear that models are considered plus size from size 8 and up I get angry. What does plus mean with sizing? Well, it means more than normal or average. Plus sizing when I was a kid was for truly large ladies, like sizes 18 and up.

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What astounds me is that this woman, by her dress, feels she's still beautiful. Creative Commons: evolutionarypsychiatry.blogspot.com

Being classified as a plus size 8 means that you’re going to think you’re bigger than average, that there’s something wrong and abnormal about you. The fashion industry is probably the worst, with the movie industry coming in second. Seriously, these people should be smacked severely for causing needless deaths and psychoses. When children of six are worrying about their weight or being too fat, there is a lot wrong with the world. Albeit, as a pudgy child I didn’t have it easy and children are notoriously cruel, but our culture shapes what they consider aberrant.

I have Amazonian friends. They’re nearly six feet tall. Some are slimmer than others, because nature makes us differently, but none are fat. You can bet that by height alone they’re all going to be over 150 pounds and they’re going to be considered plus size. For that matter, maybe all of my friends (except one who is tiny and has size 5 feet but still has a bit of a tummy) would be plus size by modeling standards.

Hanging clothes on living skeletons who are lit and pomaded to look partially healthy gives no one the hope of looking the same in such an outfit. The pictures here are the extremes but models are often far underweight and on their way to an early death. Actors are told they’ll be fired from their roles if they put on so much as 10 lbs. Unless you’re a comedian; they’re allowed to be fat because fat is funny. And these supposedly normal size models…they stand a high chance of suffering throughout their lives, should they live that long. They’re not just missing fat, they’re missing muscle mass, not to mention nutrition to run a healthy body. Telling someone they’re fat doesn’t make them healthier if they starve themselves into nonexistence.

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From Plus Model Magazine: Katya Zharkova next to the fashion industry's ideal.

There is  the beginning of a backlash in the fashion industry but obviously it’s slow when Twiggy (who was 110 lbs) would now be considered plus size. The clothing store Le Chateau perpetuates the skinny myth, where you’ll be hard pressed to find L, but you’ll find S, XS, XXS and XXXS. Shame on you, Le Chateau.  Plus Model Magazine embraces lush, curvy models, and the magazine looks a lot at unhealthy body image. This last image indicates the difference between the skeletal model preferred by the fashion industry and the body ideal that is more common for all women. There are very few women, a small percentage, who could be healthy and skinny enough to be a model without starving themselves.

So, don’t believe what you see in fashion and in the movies. Those aren’t real people sizes. If you’re wearing a size 12, that’s not a plus size. That’s average. And, mothers, don’t let your daughters grow up to be models.

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Are Women’s Halloween Costumes All About Sex?

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A spoof on the STARS campaign by geek of the day

It seems I’ve put my travelogues on hold to comment on Halloween costumes. I already posted this week about whether Halloween costumes are racist or not if you wear one of an Arab sheikh or a Mexican farmer of 100 years ago, brought on by the STARS campaign against racism out of Ohio University. While I agree that some costumes are in poor taste, I don’t agree that dressing up as another ethnic group, in a historical, cultural context is necessarily bad nor disrespecting. Halloween is often about being what you’re not.

As I’m working on my own costume for Halloween (which could offend the French for all I know because of its historical context) I wandered into a Halloween costume shop and was a bit stunned to see what range of cheap costumes they had for women. Going to a few sites supports that the latest greatest fashion for women involves sex oozing out of every woven fiber.

Fairy tales have always been popular costumes, such as the characters of Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, witches, fairies, as well as superheroes, pirates, barmaids and fortune tellers. But something has happened to the costumes in the past few years. They’re almost all like hooker costumes (if you’re buying one). Men of course can wear full outfits but look at these following costumes, every skirt is short, stockings and garters and high heels. Tops are tight and cleavage abounding. Go to any major costume site on the internet and these images are there. The percentage varies but it’s as high as 90% sex costumes on some sites. Others might have other costumes for women but they’re still few. Really, if someone went to a prostitute some would have these very outfits for roleplaying scenarios. And I should mention that almost all superheroes are drawn with godly perfect proportions, and men and women are put into skin-tight affairs.

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Even Supergirl now has stockings and garters and cleavage spilling out.

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What happened to the rest of Red Riding Hood's dress?

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Somebody chewed out parts of this queen's costume.

I’m not against sex or sexuality. Sex not only sells but it is indeed part of the human psyche. An animal’s need to procreate is strong in all creatures and we are just the human animal. However, when every costume becomes just another way to oversexualize a woman I do have to wonder. If I wear a full length costume, as I did for Little Bo Peep, am I not sexy? Should it even matter if I’m sexy? We’ve been inundated so much with the sex kitten image that we don’t even blink at it anymore and to me that’s more troublesome than if I dress up as someone from Mao’s army.

But that might just be me and in some ways, none of this is new. Way back when I was still in college and working at a local TV station as a stills photographer one of the directors had a party. It might not have been even for Halloween but it was costumed; you were supposed to come as a movie star. Well, not all the women wore sexy outfits but many of them did. Going against the tide, I donned a western shirt, cowboy hat and eyepatch. I stuffed a pillow in the shirt and practised my John Wayne voice and swagger. Even so, in the very crowded party, women would squeeze up to some man as I tried to get past  and would glare at me as if I was “stealing their man.”

Maybe it really is all about territories. I just really hope that women don’t have to be sex kittens 24/7. But for Halloween, well it really is about what you’re not so there you go, sexy outfits and with the popularity of zombies at the moment I guess some of these will become dead sexy.

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Insta Fashion: Is it Art?

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Fabrican or fabric can't spray-on clothing

I recently came across a new form of art. Or is it a new fashion statement? In some cases it’s both or just one. NewScientist reports on a process of spray-on clothing. You’ll need to watch the video to get a good idea of the process. There is a second one of an artist working with cellulose as well. The problem with cellulose is that it swells or gets slimy once water is introduced.

The spray-on clothing is a mixture of cotton fibers, polymers and solvents. I can’t find what those polymers or solvents are made of and if this would even be a good thing to put on bare skin very often. While the experimentation is ongoing and researchers see the possibility of medical usages, such as spray-on bandages, the aspects of fashion are quite limited.

First, you would have to go into a shop or have a friend spray your clothing on. Otherwise, everything would be backless. I imagine that spraying this stuff on to any length of body hair could be problematic with removal. Considering that we’re living in a nearly hairless body era, that might not be an issue. The material can be washed and re-worn but it looks pretty fragile in maintaining its shape. I also noticed that the women were small breasted overall for the application. Does that mean that dealing with larger curves for breasts or buttocks could be an issue of tension for the fabric? Not to mention, if your breasts aren’t perky, your top will sag.

The models were all very slim and trim. I think that spraying on a T-shirt over a large beer gut might just be a bit more than anyone wants to see. And what about pants? This material gives a whole new meaning to skin-tight and indeed nothing would be left to the imagination. What I’ve seen of the styles so far are pretty basic and seems to be used in a very basic T-shirt or tank top style, so style still needs to develop.

While spray-on fabric might be useful for scientific applications or one of a kind art displays, I can’t see it catching on yet for fashion. Not until they solve the form-fitting aspect. But in the future, perhaps when we’ve deforested so much of the earth that the remaining stands of trees are protected as oxygen sources, maybe we’ll be recycling every fiber and spraying on our loincloths (what with global warming and all) and dissolving them when we need a new one. It might be the way of the future but I think we’re stuck for a while yet with clothes that cover us up. Which gives us time to all get in shape so we look good when the inevitable happens.

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Fashion Goofs

I think I commented before on the silliness of the baggy pants, nearly-to-your-knees style, where young men belt up the voluminous garment but show their underwear above the belt line. This style is good for skateboarders, for movement and for keeping that tender flesh from being abraded during a fall. It’s not good for much else. But even so, that look is of a particular style that goes together in its own odd way.

Should you take five people and tell them to dress in the same style I bet that only three of those people would get it right or be able to pull it off. Some people do not have the demeanor, fashion sense or the body type for certain looks. These are the fashion goofs. We’ve all seen them; the elderly men with sagging paunches squeezed into a Speedo bathing suit, that woman psychic I saw on TV once who had to be nearing 60 wearing her hair in two ponytails and in very pink frilly dress, Donald Trump’s massively bad comb-over.

I’m going to have to start taking pictures but here are two examples of people I saw who were unable to carry off their fashion choice no matter their confidence in their attire. I was waiting at a local coffee shop for a friend, people-watching those waiting for the bus and there was this guy trying that underwear displaying look. However he had on the equivalent of Bermuda shorts, down to the knee and fairly form fitting. They sat on his hipbone but not as low as the baggy pants style. Above this, as proudly as a peacock, he displayed his version of tighty whiteys. Often worn with the baggy pants are the equally baggy boxer shorts. These were tight and bright red and up to his waist. Yikes! The picture to the left illustrates a ludicrous look with tighty whiteys, baggy pants and a garter!

The second was not eye offending but just not right and would not have even been noticeable except the person wearing the outfit proclaimed herself to be goth. What do we imagine in the realm of goth clothing? Red, black, maybe blue, sometimes white, torn, tight, bodices, laces, frills, leather, studs, Victorian…these are all gothy. This person wore her hair long and straight, with bangs. Okay, gothy…maybe. She wore, I think, some mascara and a lipstick in the darker colors but not red nor burgundy. She always wore jeans, black, straight legged with black runners (tennis shoes). Her blouses might have had a bit of ruffle to them. All of this together does not speak goth. Although her clothing was nondescript enough and didn’t look bad on her, in no way did she resemble a goth. Her work outfits differed little from her leisure wear and the only goth was in her head.

Possibly the people who proclaim loudly they are of a group, or fashionable are those who try just a bit too hard. I’ve had female friends that look terrible in dresses because the walk like men. They’ve learned not to wear those garments. On the other hand perhaps these people should be applauded for not caring what others think. Still some eye-offending outfits would be better left to nightmares than reality.

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A Holt Renfrew Girl on a Wal-Mart Budget

Creative Commons: Avon Lady by theotherwayworks flickr

The heading is just a bit off. I don’t really shop at Wal-Mart nor at Holt Renfrew, though I once did buy my winter coat there. I don’t shop Wal-Mart (or Zellers) because the clothing is generic and, while cheap, not made that well, nor that exciting for styles. Holt Renfrew, on the other hand, might have more fashionable outfits but with highly inflated prices.

For basics, sure you can buy some of those things in the cheaper stores, but if you want something made well that will last, you have to go to a store that’s more specific, as in a clothing store for clothes or a shoe store for shoes, not always a department store. But that’s just a general thing. Many clothing stores have cheaply made clothes where the buttons are stitched on with the least amount of thread and will fall off after one wearing. Or after one washing the seams will separate so it takes a judicious eye to spot the good over the bad.

I’ve always loved clothes and jewelery and I guess I’m a typical girl that way. I wouldn’t say I’m a slave to fashion, because those people change their clothes every season depending on what the new style is. I’m more of a fashion horse, in that I have a lot of clothes, I like to buy unique items but I keep them for more than a season. So my style is individualistic and eclectic.

I don’t want to look like everyone else and I want clothes that fit well and flatter my body, so some fashions don’t work well on me. Because I don’t have the funds to buy designer clothing I tend to shop around a lot. I go into various stores and little shops and don’t frequent the chains as much because in a chain store everyone wears the same. I also wait for sales because most clothing prices are beyond the worth. I have also found good clothes in stores like Wal-Mart, (Army & Navy) but not often and again looking carefully.

This weekend I decided to shop for a new purse. Purses are like other fashions; sometimes they’re in style and sometimes the styles change but in purses (like other clothing) there is quite a range. I have a couple of purses that I use year in year out; your basic black for one. But I wanted a lighter color, for spring and summer. As I started to wander through the stores I notice that The Bay in an attempt to pop themselves up to a Holt Renfrew level of chi-chi have renovated to shiny and marble with lots of space a few stands and handbags displayed airily. Of course I could not believe the prices: $185, $395, $240. For a purse! The most expensive I’ve seen in prvious years was $120 and that was very high.

I have to say I sneered and wandered off to other stores to see similar prices. I just wanted a little purse, to bop around summer with, to

Creative Commons: Rene Ehrhardt via flickr

store a few things. Yes, most of these purses were leather but even in Sears, considered not as high-end purses were topping $100-$200, though some were in the $60-$85 range. But of course those were vinyl or some other pseudo plastic. You do sometimes get what you pay for but expensive poly plastics still tend to tear and rip faster and sometimes you pay for name (I refuse to advertise for a company so never buy anything with a very conspicuous brand labeled across the clothes). I did eventually find a purse on sale for about $40. It’s not completely ideal but it’s better than even the Winners purses that were coming in at $200.

If I won the lottery tomorrow I’m afraid I would still not be a full Holt Renfrew girl. I don’t think $400 for a blouse is reasonable, unless it was made by gnomes during the full moon and sewn with spider silk. A lot of fashion pricing is a big gouge and I just can’t participate in it when money could go to better causes. On my moderate budget that counts as rent and food. If I had my millionaire’s budget that extra money would go to charitable causes, not $500 purses.

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The Problem With Supervillains

Earlier I talked about The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Superhero Fashion, and touched on the bad guys as well. But I think they need their equal time. Just as I listed the general aspects of the costumed hero, it applies to the villain, but there are a few more points.

  1. They have perfect or godly physiques. Even if slim, or buxom, superheros are muscular and perfect. (There are exceptions like

    Galactus, Marvel Comics (and the Silver Surfer)

    the Blob.) Villains on average might look more weaselly, be of thin or obese proportions, or not as attractive as the good guys. A sinister slant to the eyebrow and angular lines define the alien or evil.

  2. They have powers or abilities beyond the normal human.
  3. They are superbly fit and agile, as well as being able to withstand physical abuse that would disfigure, cripple or kill most other people (they never lose teeth for instance).
  4. They’re arrogant or megalomaniacs. After all, if you’re running around stealing and destroying things wearing wild colors and skintight clothing you obviously like the attention, even if it will get you caught.
  5. They rarely get paid so they steal in fantastic ways. If they have money, then they’re power mad or crazy. If they’re from another planet they may have alien concepts and like to eat worlds, as with Galactus of Fantastic Four fame.
  6. If they’re not crazy, they’re stupid or have a compulsion to be caught. After all, would you flaunt your crime wave by donning really bright tights to rob a bank? Wouldn’t stealth be better? Maybe the guys that get the powers are like the bank robbers who rob with their names on their motorcycle helmets.

Marvel's Dr. Doom

Villains might have once been good guys in the superhero world. There are often ambiguous moral lines that they cross back and forth. Those characters are less likely to look evil or bad. The X-Men’s Havok has played both sides. His costume and demeanor do not indicate bad or evil. Dr. Doom is disfigured from an experiment and he’s mad, brilliant and rich so he’s a bit like a primitive Darth Vader. The villain might be misguided by an evil leader and therefore can be swayed.

The female villains, no matter how crazy, are usually still dressed sexy. They tend to straddle those

Mystique from Marvel's X-Men

moral lines a lot more. Poison Ivy is mad but protects plants. Catwoman only steals from the rich, Harley Quinn is humorous but mad, sort of like a softer version of the Joker who is scary looking while she is cute. Mystique who is probably more right out evil than some of the others is still made to look sexy. Her dark skin and skull at the hairline are symbols of her darkness. But no matter how nasty her sneer, she is still dressed in ways that indicate eroticism, the breasts outlined through the costume, the hips bared to the waist. Godlike in her evilness.

There isn’t a female villain who is ugly that I can think of. Of course, I’m not up to date on every comic but if there is an ugly female villain she is most likely a minor character. I do recall one thin female in Mystique’s gang who was elderly, Destiny. But from time to time she is neither super thin nor old. Villains and heroes tend to morph a lot.

DC's Catwoman (from the movie) Men would love her to steal from them.

Sometimes a villain might wear something armored as does Dr. Doom or as the hero Iron Man does. When that villain is a woman the armor is decorative as opposed to functional and often exposes the stomach and/or midriff, a really soft spot on the human body. Obviously the supervillains only sometimes dress for function. Catwoman’s catsuit is suited for scuttling about and it’s black so she blends into the night. But she often wears heels and most women know how hard it is to run, jump or do other martial arts in heels, but then they are superhuman. On the whole, the reason the supervillains lose more than the heroes is because they must be stupider and crazier, which tends to affect judgment and of course heroes have justice on their side.

Still I’d love to see some common sense in costuming that’s pretty hard to duplicate and in most cases, in real life, would probably look really goofy. I suppose using sex to stun one’s victims into a stupor of immovability is one way to win but I think one might just go farther on stealth.

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