Nov 16, 2011
Readers, a pre-dawn epiphany:
The loathsome message implicit in every unisex sewing pattern is "we are so into each other, we don't give a damn how we look to the rest of the world." Am I right?
The Western shirt pattern below, a late Sixties Butterick, sums up the essential flaw in the unisex concept -- a misbegotten assumption about (heterosexual) intimacy and sartorial similitude -- which proved to be the seed of its destruction.
Your comments yesterday relating to unisex patterns were telling:
Who wants to look that bad?!
Are the pattern companies listening?
Here is the primary problem with unisex: Latest research shows that while 68% of women polled are willing to wear menswear (think boyfriend jeans), only 4% of men are willing to wear womenswear -- only half of whom are not consciously trying to crossdress.
As a result, unisex -- almost without exception -- has meant that men get to wear what they'd wear anyway, and women get to look like Eighties-era lesbians: an observation, not a judgment, progressive readers!
In the early days of unisex, during the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, there were exceptions to the soon-to-be-dominant women-in-menswear look -- cringe-worthy exceptions.
Unisex was undoubtedly the reflection of a more idealistic time, when pattern companies naively thought that by dressing men and women alike, the sexes would be more equal. I think you'll agree that the effort resulted in little more than a series of fashion don'ts.
While unisex lives on today, primarily in polyfleece hoodies, scrubs, and Gitmo detention camp-inspired pajama bottoms, one word you will never, ever hear is the oxymoronic unisexy.
After extensive research, I could come up with only two remotely titillating unisex patterns, both resembling Seventies-era Benson & Hedges ads.
If I had to distill the essence of unisex and turn it into a movie musical, I could do no better than the Burt Bacharach-Hal David 1973 snooze-fest Lost Horizon, produced by Ross Hunter, the man who gave us not only Magnificent Obsession and Madame X, but also Pillow Talk!
Here one finds songs oozing in unisex values, like the rousing "Living Together, Growing Together":
Living together, growing together, just being together
That's how it starts; Three loving hearts
All pulling together, working together, just building together
That makes you strong
If things go wrong, we'll still get along somehow
Living and growing....together
Watch it (with Portuguese subtitles!) here.
There's also the heartwarming "The World Is a Circle," which is essentially Do Re Mi performed in the Himalayas by caftan-clad children seemingly on loan from Jim Jones' People's Temple cult.
The world is a circle without a beginning,
And nobody knows where it really ends.
Everything depends on where you
Are in the circle that never begins.
Nobody knows where the circle ends.
It's both profound and banal and very, very unisex, if you ask me. Confession: I have owned the Lost Horizon album for nearly twenty years and can't stop playing it.
Friends and fellow travelers, our unisex journey has come to an end. Is there anything I've missed?
If you have any closing statements to add to this veritable "Ode to Unisex," please feel free to add them below. I will do my best to pass them along to the appropriate pattern company executive.