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Jan 20, 2012

Clothes Shopping for Men vs. Clothes Shopping for Women



BREAKING NEWS, FEMALE  READERS:  I get it.  

I mean, I really get it.  I now understand why women sew.

I owe this epiphany to a recent article on the Cracked.com website, The 7 Most Baffling Things About Women's Clothes, by Christine H.

You must read it and tell me whether or not you agree with her arguments.  A few of her points were familiar to me, like arbitrary (vanity) sizing, but others I had never thought about before, like her complaint that the fabric is often too thin, or the garment inappropriate for cool weather (or a cool office) due to the amount of skin left exposed.

I'm going to tell you something you probably already know: clothes shopping for most men is so easy you could do it in your sleep, or certainly from a catalog.  There are two basic reasons for this: 1) traditional men's clothing is always available, and  2) it does. not. change.  Or if it does, the changes are so slight and rolled out so slowly, that only if you're wearing a sweater from, say, 1947, do you notice that knit waistbands were a little wider back then, or that ties were somewhat wider (after having been narrower, which followed immediately upon their being wider, narrower, wider, narrower, etc.).  Maybe I exaggerate, but my basic point is valid.

For example, whether we're talking Goodwill or Nordstrom, you can always find some version of the following items:

Khaki pants.



A light blue button down oxford shirt.



Penny loafers.



A gray crewneck wool sweater.



A classic field jacket.



Too conservative?  Dress it down with Converse All Stars.



If you're sportier still, you can wear an Adidas tracksuit almost anywhere these days.



Traditional types can opt for a leather bomber jacket, available today at L.L. Bean as it has been for decades.



For more formal occasions, a blue pinstripe suit.  Always in fashion. 



Readers, the list goes on and on, and you can wear these clothes from eight to eighty and beyond.   If you want to dress exactly like Humphrey Bogart did in Casablanca, you don't have to hunt in a vintage clothing store.  If a gray-flanneled Gregory Peck is more your style, you can create that look too, easily, hat and rep tie included.





Men's clothing is basically a uniform, and has been for more than a century.  There's the business uniform, the preppy-casual uniform, and the sporty uniform (probably a few others too), but whichever one you choose, you don't have to be creative or up on the latest trends.  Just go to most any department store or thrift shop.  So easy.  You may not look like you stepped out of GQ magazine, but you won't raise any eyebrows either.  You'll just look...normal.

Now let's take women's clothes.  I did a little casual research (the only kind I do) and searched for women's dress in Google Images.  Here's what I found scads of (these three are from J. Crew but they're typical): skimpy "party" dresses I don't think most women could wear to work.  In fact, other than dinner out in a warm climate (bring a sweater as most restaurants are air-conditioned), I'm not sure where you'd wear these dresses.  Any ideas?







Based on recent comments regarding fashion trends, it sounds like some seasons there simply are no basics -- navy skirts or simple gray slacks -- available for women.  (Is this true even at L.L. Bean?)

As far as women's shoes are concerned...eek!



In closing, readers, why do you think men's clothes never change?  Is it because most men aren't interested in fashion, or are most men not interested in fashion because men's clothes never change?

With regard to The 7 Most Baffling Things About Women's Clothes, are there any other baffling things you'd like to add?

Enlightenment sought!

75 comments:

  1. Yes. 100%. Now go and convince all the other men out there, please.

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  2. My husband is VERY particular about clothing, he's a vintage guy but still even as particular as he is it's easier because it's basically trousers - sorry pants - shirt, jacket of whatever format! Sometimes I'm rather jealous

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  3. Fantastic article. One of my favorite quotes "Looking for a nice, regular long-sleeve shirt? How about an upside-down drawstring garbage bag with a giant V cut into the neckline?" So true!

    I am pretty exclusively shopping thrift stores and sewing at this point.

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  4. That article is genius!

    I have a bunch of fun dresses that I made from vintage--mostly 1940's--patterns, but what do I wear to work? Skirts and turtlenecks. All the time. I have one particularly hideous plaid Eighties-Catholic-school-esque skirt that goes with about six different turtlenecks (red, green, blue, black, yellow, white) and is thus the most valuable piece of my office wardrobe, even though I hate it and would very much like to send it [back, I confess] to Goodwill.

    I'm waiting for the end of the skinny jeans dynasty. Finding pants that fit was hard enough before somebody decided that women didn't have thighs. Except that most of us DO have thighs and some of us have very round, muscular, thighs (and posteriors). How we can say we like "curvy" women and then not make any everyday clothes that fit them is beyond me. I can't go around in Spandex all the time.

    On the other hand, I can wear Fifties dresses without resorting to a girdle. I guess everything is a trade-off.

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    1. LBC- You and I must be built the same way. I haven't been able to buy trousers (pants, jeans, skirts, shorts,...) for 25 years, yet I can still wear the clothes I purchased waaaaay back then, so my shape has not changed that much. I'm not sure who they are designing clothes for; pre-pubescent adolescents perhaps?

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  5. Menswear, the good stuff, still requires a bit of an expedition. The cut of khakis varies, and a better label from a thrift store (Banana Republic, anyone?) trumps an ill-fitting effort from Target (shallow pockets, curiously cut crotch, stretch-the-leg-to-get-the-inseam pants). I'm done with cheap clothes.

    Women's clothing, on the whole, is a financially draining life-long competition.

    The fabrics, while "novel" season after season, are scarcely better than what JoAnn's carries. I think that JoAnn's/Hancock's stock and trade, is what clothing manufacturers skim above and use as the threshold to dissuade more shoppers from taking up sewing.

    "7 baffling things" should take a look-see into closets of various women. What I've seen for each woman I know is that she owns a collection of more clothes than several men put together (and much of it is inferior in lasting value, if nothing else). That goes to my competition point - it's always a plus if "they haven't seen this one before" - where guys don't care so much about that (a male "fashion nemesis" is rare).

    Guys may be into shirts, neckwear, boots, or something, but rarely, EVERYTHING. The myriad of looks and ensembles (and shoes!) most women have accumulated are testaments to money and time in acquiring (never mind taking care of - handwashing, shoe repair, dry cleaning, invisible weaving, alterations).

    Is it time for women to say, "Enough!"? Enough of the crappy fabrics, the implied social demands of being seen in something new?
    Is it time to buy or make much better quality basics and wear them (like European women do)?
    Is it time for women AND men to throw off the shackles of consumerism, and recreational shopping, and apply their time and money into other pursuits?

    The fashion cycle will continue, but so many of us participating in it with wild abandon is crazy.

    Better is more.

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  6. Easy. Take the condition where people notice someone else wearing the same clothes they are:

    Women think: OMG THAT B****. How dare she.
    Men think: That guy has great taste.

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    Replies
    1. I have actually never thought that in my life. Am I a boy? Why did no one tell me?

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  7. I agree with 6 and 4. Also, I am almost never cold in any situation, but I always wear an undershirt and either tights or long underwear in the winter. It's the best dressing trick anyone ever taught me.

    I think those dresses would be warm enough with an undershirt (tank top or camisole style), tights, and a blazer or cardigan. If you're really cold, wear a scarf as well.

    Ironically, my husband HATES men's clothing and can never find a thing he likes to wear, because he despises 'regular' tshirts and pants. ;)

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  8. the Goodwill I frequent only has recent clothes; the thin, short sleeve, V-neck, short skirt, lacy dresses that only look good on the pre-teen set. Very rare to find vintage there anymore. I'm glad I hoarded vintage for many years, and still have a choice of outfits.
    My favorite slacks are a pair of high waisted Perry Ellis side button wool flannel eighties style. Why did low rise become so popular? More muffin tops than not, IMO.

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  9. YES for the most part... but this is also maybe why shopping is more fun/adventurous/exciting (and yes, frustrating) for women. As the mom of little girl, my friends with little boys tell me they are jealous, because little boys clothes are just so... BORING (a robot appliqué, if you're lucky).

    That said, yes: women's sizing is arbitrary and ridiculous, and RTW clothes seem to fit a large number of women very poorly... it's very hard to find the wardrobe workhouse basics to keep you warm/comfortably/stylish...

    So when you're sewing you can make exactly what you want to your style and needs.

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    1. Sorry, I meant to add--you're also quite right about the flimsy quality of many women's RTW clothes.

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  10. could not agree more! can't count the number of times i have gone out to look for just a basic whatever-it-is-i-need-that-day only to find junk that doesn't even come close to what i need. the more i sew the less i shop!

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  11. I agree with most of the article. I do get a little worried when we complain about vanity sizing only bc I think we should be demanding a larger size range in general. Being a 16 in patterns but a 10/12 in most stores I don't care about the number but if most stores went with the pattern sizing I would not be able to shop a lot of places while at a natural (not even classified as overweight) size.

    That said I have two reasons to sew to add. First I must wear a bra. The girls must be hoisted back up to where the good lord put the to begin with at all times or its just not pretty. Two my body parts are different sizes. Seriously I should bring a flask if I'm going to try on pants bc it makes me want to drink every time. Between the waist/hip issues and the length/rise problems its already crazy then add the runners caves and its over.

    What I wounder is if anyone else has gotten to be more of a brat about clothing since they started really sewing.

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    1. I thought you were going to suggest using a flask to "fill out" certain areas!

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    2. I am such a brat/snob about clothing now that I sew!

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    3. I constantly eye up outfits, only to snobbishly toss them aside because "I can make this with stronger seams, better fabric, and in a nicer colour than this! How do they get away with selling this crap?!" LOL

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  12. If I look at the men around me... most are not interested in clothes. If they buy new shoes then they do because the old ones start falling apart and then they go to the shop to buy new ones that look exactly like the ones they have. (Which often doesn't work out because after five or seven years even men's shoes have changed their shape or another detail a bit so the poor man has to make bigger psychological adjustments to get accustomed to the slightly different shape.)

    There are a few exceptions from that rule, but most of them... sew.

    Regarding the baffling things about women's clothes I see similar in Europe, but a little better. For example we have a DIN/ISO for clothes sizes (yes, we have, we are Germans, we have a DIN/ISO for everything... ;-) ) and most bigger companies still comply with those more or less. So usually I have the same size, maybe one number off, regardless which company. (Doesn't mean they all fit the same, not at all, but this is then a question of proportions. And if my usual size doesn't fit one bigger or one smaller won't fit either.)

    We also find at least jackets and pants with pockets, they sell business suits of wool and plain boring shirts for work and I can find shirts that are not completely see through.

    But... on an average our clothes are much more expensive than in the US.

    If I go to a shop that sells extremely cheap T-Shirts from unknown sources I will find those random sizes and fabric that starts to fall apart while looking on it. :o)

    The majority of women seems to prefer having a lot of clothes that are badly made and not very functional, so that's what they buy and that's what is sold.

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  13. You make very good points, but also bring up the cons of the "limited" men's wardrobe. Women have so many choices that they can create their own identity with ready to wear garments. Men have so much less choice in style, color, cut, etc. This is one reason why I sew clothes for myself. :)

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  14. As a working woman, I would prefer to have a choice to buy high quality clothing that doesn't change style, like men have. Once I stopped being a very thin young woman, there was no longer anyone designing anything that would look good on me. You can be any size man and find a great suit or casual clothing.

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  15. I couldn't agree more. I recently ordered a pair of "size 26" pants online that proved to have a 31-inch waist. The idea that women are incapable of understanding actual measurements is so insulting. I sympathize with plus-sized women who can't find clothes in their size, because I've fallen off the other end of the spectrum in many brands. And I'm no stick-insect.

    Annoying, frequent design elements:
    shockingly low-rise trousers (the laughably short fly is always a clue)
    "dress" shirts cut with exaggerated hourglass shapes, short tails, and stunted sleeves.
    excessive use of stretch fabric

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  16. I don't get the skimpy dresses, either. Every year, when holiday-time rolls around, you see all these party dresses that would only be comfortable to wear in July. Even pattern companies don't offer much in the way of sleeved dresses. What gives?

    And what's with this layering business? The world is getting warmer, not colder! WHY would I ever want to layer? I live in Austin, not Fargo. The only time I do, of course, is at WORK where the temperature is usually low enough to preserve a corpse.

    And don't get me started on these shoes with the ultra-high heels and styled to make you look like you have hooves instead of feet. UGLY. When is THAT going to end?

    Thank goodness I sew! Now if I could just find a shoe-making course somewhere, I'd be set.

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    1. FYI. Heard from reliable source that the average woman now wears a size 36DD BRA UP FROM 34B. When will the pattern companies catch on--they still draft for the 34B.

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    2. YES!!! I'm a 36H - and there is exactly ONE department store (Dillards) that I can walk into and buy a bra that fits me. I know I'm not the only woman out there with this issue.

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  17. FYI The average bra size is now 36dd up from the 34b that the pattern companies still draft from. HELLO bmv ETC.

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  18. I'll read comments later but what I really want to know...when is that awful baggy sloppy"pants on the ground" fashion for guys going away. That is so ugly and dopey...these guys need a new style mentor!!!

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    1. Sadly, the fact that men's clothing styles change so slowly means that trends tend to hang on...and on...and on. I think we're stuck with that one for a while yet.

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    2. Give me a James Dean look please, or Lappin... in cords any day of the week!!!

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    3. You know I kind of rather see a guy wear baggy pants than see them in skinny jeans with their junk exposed.

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    4. And then there's what the hipster boys are doing now, which is skinny jeans that are slouchy at the waist. Visible underwear AND visible, ehm, other stuff.

      The worst part of it is that with the skinny jeans they can't wear boxers anymore so it's visible boxer-briefs, which is even less okay.

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  19. OK, I don't agree with much of her issues...my closet...and my daughters can attest to that. I find nice clothes on the rack...with pockets in good durable fabric and I don't need to layer but I like to for practicality not for fashion...although I do do it with fashion sense. I sew for a totally different reason. I love to construct and see how it turns out. As for the tissue thin...some of those are just downright comfy, but I'n not stuck with that selection only. Alas, most men just don't get into man fashion...good thing, leaves me more closet space!!! Great topic once again Peter!

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  20. Utility wear for women, thats all I want. A brand that does the basics and I can rely on year after year, and preferably decade after decade. My other half has worn Levis 501s and Fred Perry tops since the 80s. Why can't I have something like that?

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    1. Just replying to contradict myself - if my finances were limitless I'd get a wardrobe of clothes from here: http://old-town.co.uk/products/ladieshirt.htm Good quality fabrics and plain (yet distinctive) patterns.

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  21. Utility wear for women would be nice. I used to consider Lee khakis utility wear until I cleaned my closet of approximately 20 pairs of khakis and compared them. They were all khaki. They all had pockets. Some were high waisted, some were low waisted, some had that nasty 3 percent spandex added. All fit differently. the 12 T fit better than the 14 P, the 10R was best. Size is a game.

    I think we've all fallen for the idea that shopping is quicker than sewing. If you factor in the time you spend going from store to store and the number of pants you need to try on before you find on that sort of works, you know you'd be better off with one tried and true pattern.

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    1. I don't care about size, I just wish there were any pants anywhere that fit women who genuinely are curvy. Not "curvy" as a euphemism for "chubby", but curvy as in "26-inch waist and 40-inch hips". I resent having to pay for pants twice: Once to buy them, and almost as much again to have them altered.

      Literally the only pants I own are stretchy jogging pants and old-school Wrangler jeans, which have roomy thighs and high waists for women who ride horses. Everything else is big in the waist and too tight in the legs.

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    2. MMM, hmm. I think I learned to alter about 10 minutes after buying my first pair of off the rack pants. Try styles that do not have a sewn on waistband, but a faced one. Then you can just open the center back, take in what you need to, and stitch it back together. When I had your problem, Lee came closest to offering pants that worked.

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    3. Little Black Car,
      L.L.Bean curvy fit pants (the ones that use the separate sizing chart for curvy fit) have a 13 inch difference between waist and hip measurement. As opposed to the ten inch differential of their regular size chart. I tried them last year and it is the first time I have ever bought jeans that fit without my having to take in the waist. Right after I perfected my own jeans draft, of course. But you won't hear me complaining!

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  22. Another thing that nobody has mentioned is that men's bodies vary a lot less than women's. They are easier to fit because they are much closer to a simple tube shape. Even if two women have the same basic measurements, they still probably have quite different body shapes. We also prefer a lot more options in our clothing: dresses, tops, skirts, pants, formal, work, relaxed, etc. whereas most men are content with just a few different types of garments. Less options = easier shopping. I've only ever met one man who truly loved to clothing shop! But then his father was a tailor.

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    1. Although I'll concur that women have a harder time finding clothes that fit overall, it's not always that easy for men. I wear a 44R Jacket, and 29 waist, so that means I can never buy a 2 piece suit. 44R Jackets always come with much, much bigger pants. The whole reason I got into tailoring/sewing in my early 20's is when I realized I would never be able to buy any pants, other than jeans, without adjusting the hem.

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    2. There are some stores -- H&M comes to mind but there are others -- where you can buy jacket and matching pants separately. Still, it sounds frustrating!

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  23. My husband - 6ft 6in and 32in waist (oh okay, more like 34in these days) - finds it MUCH harder to get clothes that fit than I do, poor bugger. Luckily he is married to a tailor :-) I say that, but I've only ever altered things for him. Really must actually MAKE him something one of these days...

    As far as I can tell, dresses WITH SLEEVES are the holy grail for almost all women over 35, except those with enough time to spend the hours in the gym getting Madonna arms. Which is basically only film stars. But the clothing companies don't make them because it's an extra element to fit, plus it's harder to design a non-frumpy dress with sleeves.

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    1. I'm in the same boat as your husband and it's one of the reasons I started sewing. I'm 6'4" and very skinny and men's sizes never get any longer, they just get wider. If a guy is 5'9 in any variation of weight, he is fine, but it's very hard to find things that fit when you're not.

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    2. I think there's a niche market out there - trousersfortallthinmen.com!

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  24. Plain old economics. they want cheap labor and cheap material, and they want to sell a lot. And optimism, so we take something home that we hate two weeks later and then we are on the hunt for the elusive good dress/skirt/ pants.

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  25. Men's fashion may not change often, but sizing does. Just try to find a pair of Levis 501's that with that tight in the right spots fit that guys used to sport in the Castro(west) and the Village (east) in the 70's. As the average size of the public has changed so does retail sizing. That being said, I've never had off the rack body dimensions. I buy my long sleeve shirts at thrift stores because I know they've been washed and will not significantly shrink any further otherwise I'm a medium (15 1/2) with size large sleeves or longer. As far as trousers (30-31W), my length is no longer than that offered in retail stores. Other than buying Levi's 501 at lengths that I'm not sure the Levis company even knows exist (read knockoff?) I wear shorts most of the summer. Sewing may be my savior.

    ron b.

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  26. Men's fashion doesn't change because men are supposed to be smart and powerful. Women are supposed to be pretty and sexy and dedicated to the pursuit of being pretty and sexy above all else.

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  27. I love that article. Love! Although at this point it's been around two years since I really went retail shopping for clothes. I still pick things up now and then, but the majority of my new clothes are coming from the sewing machine. Retail is starting to seem like a strange and foreign land... :)

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  28. I do manual, gardening labor and I'm chiming in to let you know that even buying clothes for this kind of work is still the *pits*.

    All the women's work clothes, at a store specifically geared towards buying clothes for hard labor, are crap. I have to buy men's Dickies, men's shirts, etc. They don't fit, and gradually wear down into something that fits less. I don't understand the rationale behind this.

    There are one pair of work boots that aren't made out of sub-par materials, which is a blessing since at least there are some, but there are no others, so every time I have to get a new pair it's a pain to break in the shoes, since they don't really fit to my foot. Kids' work boots are an oxymoron, which is normally good, but ... meh; it'd be easier.

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    Replies
    1. Try Duluth Trading Company online.

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  29. Men's pants are sized with waist size and length. Women's pants are all one length. As if we are all the same height. I'd love to buy a pair of pants just once and have my ankles not show after washing them!

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    1. Dockers, a few jeans brands (Bandolino and Lee come to mind) do have "short" and "tall" in a few styles. I need short, but not petite...one more reason to sew.

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  30. I had to laugh about the men's tie cycle. I have narrow ties from the 60's that I purchased at thrift stores, and "normal" ties from the 80's (I've avoided the super wide ties from the 70's). I don't always choose a tie from the current trend when I get dressed, but I think it still works because they are tasteful ties (in my opinion). I noticed in Dillard's this week that I could purchase many of the exact ties that I've held onto from the 80's.

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  31. The worst thing about women's RTW is that I.Have.To.Try.On.Ev.e.ry.Thing. That and the fact that current style is not the same as My Style, would explain why I have to sew certain things for myself. Fortunately, I also enjoy the process.

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  32. Stacy and Clinton? Anything?

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  33. Great post, Peter. I live in a rural area with only one small department store competing with Kmart, Walmart and Tractor Supply to sell women's clothes. On the rare occasions when I brave a mall 60 miles or more away, I take a tape measure to avoid some of the trying-on, but more often I shop in my stash and make a well fitted, well made garment I can wear for several years. I feel fortunate not to be dependent on the local box stores, but I love clothes and can't always sew as fast as I want to wear something new. It is time for the industry to listen to more customers, find out why their awful tee shirts aren't selling, and maybe they'd get me back. Not likely. Fortunately, fabric is my favorite travel souvenir so my stash and my sewing room are much more fun!

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  34. That article covers all the reasons I sew -- fit, fabric, quality, style, size, there's so much wrong with off the rack clothes.

    Of those, the one that's driving me nuts right now is the warmth issue. I have a chronic illness that makes me constantly cold, too, so I'm like normal woman coldness times two. I can and do sew my own clothes, but I still need some basic accessories that I can't make myself. Like shoes. Warm, closed toe shoes/boots. Without a heel. That aren't Uggs or rainboots or covered in chains and buckles. That look good with retro skirts.

    Yeah, I've been looking for months and can't find a single shoe that will work for my always-icicle feet. I've even looked at old photos and vintage advertisements to see what women wore on their feet in the first half of the 20th century, especially with skirts. Apparently women's shoes have *always* been this impractical. ;P

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    1. Have you looked into wool socks? You'd be amazed how different modern wools are from the wools of 20 years ago. Plus the natural moisture control properties of wool help your feet thermoregulate (by keeping them dry). They also last for damn-near ever. Point6 makes a top-tier sock and just moved all their factories back to the USA.

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    2. Try the genuine fleece lined boots the Minnetonka Co. makes. Mine are my favorite winter (N. Ohio) boots, comfortable with or without socks and very nice looking. Mine are simple, soft black suede on the outside, natural fleece on the inside. The natural fleece part is important. I paid around $100 for mine five years ago, best boot I've found. Not good in very wet walking, but for anything else they're wonderful.

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    3. I like Kyle's suggestion of wool socks! I'm super fortunate that my MIL knitted me two pairs of wool socks, and I've since knitted a pair for myself. They're nice and warm, and I don't get sweaty feet like I do with acrylic "winter" socks. Didn't they call those cute little ankle socks in the 50s "bobby socks," or some such?

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  35. As a man, who until recently thought very little about my clothes, I think men's fashion is more complex than most of yall give it credit for. I think it's driven (or not-driven) by the fear of standing out.

    I think that most men want to look good, but are unsure of what to do. As a straight man you face an odd paradox: If you dress like crap (like most men) you won't stand out, but women will not notice you. If you dress well, women will notice, but so will men. And those men will think you are gay. The exceptions to this are men who whore it up and are clearly NOT gay (but who are often, as a result, assholes). The result is that men try to dress like every other man, so that no one stand out and no one can judge each other without judging themselves (which we will never do).

    Fortunately I think that as social-norms shift and the stigma of homosexuality fades (and thank God for that) the fear of judgment will fade as well. Ever notice how men who sew are also pretty-much on the progressive end of the spectrum in both fashion and social issues?

    And ladies, vanity sizing has crossed the pond into menswear as well. I have a closet full of stuff to prove it.

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  36. Interesting article - I would have to say I pretty much agree! Since I have started sewing I finally have shirts that are long enough to cover my waist and, for the first time ever, I have pants that I can wear without a belt (*gasp!*). Clothes never fit until I started so sew, and, because of that I never really put much effort into how I looked. And I can just make what I like - no worrying about only finding tangerine tango mini skirts in the stores!

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  37. The thing in that article that resonated most for me was the item on pockets--I've found that, while some people I know find my sewing really impressive and cool (go me?), even girls who couldn't care less one way or another, or find my wardrobe choices strange, will let out a wistful sigh when I am wearing a new creation and demonstrate that--wait for it--check it out--the dress has pockets in the skirt. It's not the uniqueness of the dress, not the perfect personalised fit, not the styling. It's the pockets.

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  38. I think fashion follows the money in this case. Most men in most places won't chase trends, and so there's no point in the fashion industry pressing the issue.

    As a lady, I can't say with authority, but IMHO, I think, for men, it all boils down to fear of looking weak. It's dressed up in a lot of other words, but it's weakness. Most guys can't be colorful, because of what other men will think. But if they dress in somber tones, they'll get written off as a loser goth. (Grown men!) They can't usually display their wealth, either -- if done tastefully, they're a snob, if not, a "douche". Unless they're surrounded by rich guys; then opposite is true. And gods help a guy who looks like someone else dressed him.

    This is why most guys hang onto the same stuff forever, and when they're forced to buy new clothes, they'll buy ones just like their old clothes. Better safe than sorry.

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  39. I thought the article was going to be funny, but it was spot on! I work in a conservative industry, and trying to find work appropriate clothing beyond a black suit is nearly impossible.

    I have to figure out this sewing thing and move towards more clothes and less quilts.

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  40. I totally agree that women's RTW sizing and the fabrics used are awful. AWFUL! These are just 2 of the many problems.

    But I can't really get down with the author, mostly because she doesn't really seem to like clothing or fashion at all. And the things she says all women want are NOT things I want - I like 3/4 length sleeves, prefer to dress in layers and like more open necklines. I'd be even more dissatisfied with RTW if all her problems suddenly were fixed.

    So much of the style issues boil down to personal taste, and therein lies a key problem. I have no idea who, but someone out there likes American Apparel.

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  41. Your thoughts are right one the button as always Peter. Normal clothes shopping is hard for so many women. Of those dresses you show, I could put on number 1 but it would look horrid on me, and the other two are out of the question entirely (strapless bras don't hold quite enough). No wonder clothes shopping can be so depressing.

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  42. "Why do you think men's clothes never change? Is it because most men aren't interested in fashion, or are most men not interested in fashion because men's clothes never change?"

    It's very simple. It's in the interest of patriarchy to have women obsessed about their appearance, including how they dress. Men are offered a series of uniforms, which they can dress up or down, but basically they buy their clothes and live their lives. (Men's clothing is made to higher standards, as well).

    Women, by contrast, are brainwashed into thinking that it's their duty to endlessly manipulate their image to please men and sometimes other women, even if they are encouraged to wear expensive, poorly made styles that don't suit them.

    The economy depends on it. Someone told me that he was advised that if he started a menswear line he also should consider women's clothes because menswear alone wouldn't bring in enough revenue because men don't replace their clothes as frequently as women. Men's clothes are made to last.

    I've been learning how to sew over the years and my goal is effectively to create a uniform for myself. Not a boring one, but a fairly limited series of shapes, prints, colors and textures that work for me.

    Most of us don't mind updating or changing our appearance a little bit, but widescale change every year or six months is exhausting and wasteful for anyone who isn't a true fashionista. Contrary to the stereotype, not every woman cares about every ebb and flow of fashion.

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  43. When women can't find basic clothes to go to work in, it says a lot about a culture. There was a time when I thought I was alone in my difficulty in finding clothing, but I've since learned that nearly every woman has this problem, regardless of shape.

    For a running commentary on this, check out www.corporette.com, a site that presents at least one business outfit a day as a suggestion. Sometimes the readers, professional women, think it's great, at others, they'll explain why something would be inappropriate. There was a recent post critiquing another website's suggestion that women wear see-through shirts to work.

    The fashion industry and fashion press are no friend to women, especially working women.

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  44. What a great article! I agree with pretty much everything it said and your comments in response. I can't help but believe that we women place ourselves in this predicament though. We're always complaining about how "other" people do this to us, but if we stopped buying terribly made clothing, they'd stop selling it. Obviously, that's easier said than done since there are -what - at least 150 million women in the US. However, I have hope, considering the sewing movement has become pretty big.

    But, yes, this is why I sew and why I continue to improve so that I can make wonderful, well made clothes sewn with beautiful fabrics (and real pockets) that make me feel good and show off my confidence rather than my body parts.

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  45. I've always liked to buck the trends or turn something popular a little whack. I love second-hand and vintage clothing, because it's so easy to make outfits that really fit my personality. I'd rather be stylish than trendy! Besides, second-hand clothing has already stood the test of time, so I know that if I launder things properly, they'll last for years to come :D

    As for my other-half, he is very particular about how his jeans fit, and it's getting harder and harder to find high-rise, straight-leg, full-seat men's jeans outside of work-wear brands. Thankfully, he can zero in on shirts he likes from across a crowded store. Nothing like an earthy plaid to send him bee-lining!

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  46. Peter, you should take a look at what a scam wedding dresses are. The shoulder less/sleeveless style is really a creation of manufactures and designers to keep alteration and construction costs to a bare minimum (no play on words intended) and increase profit margins. It's a lot easier to wrap a bride up and stick organza all over her than to actually tailor a well fitting dress.

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  47. This is why my husband can wear the same set of clothes to work two days in a row without eliciting any comment... because even when he does change clothes you can't hardly tell because it's simply another blue button down with khakis.

    I'm sure someone else has covered this but I make my own clothes because 1) knits are everywhere because you don't have to make a shirt really fit if it's made out knit fabric and 2) wearing knits all the time makes me feel like a teenager, not to mention that they aren't great for the warm climates I live in (armpit stains that never dry, anyone?) and 3) as you pointed out, women's clothes revolve around strapless dresses. Strapless dresses? It's ridiculous! Who the hell shaves their legs and armpits everyday? Or has a bust that can accommodate the joke that is the strapless bra? But, if you don't put sleeves on something and it's not pants, it's a helluva lot easier to construct and mass produce.

    I'm just ranting now, so I'll stop here.

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  48. The secret to a good work wardrobe is to find someone exactly your size who has a good work wardrobe and feed them a ton of cake. Then, when they outgrow those clothes, they will give them to you because you were so nice to give them all that cake.

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