Monday, April 27, 2009

"Cute outfit!!!" Raise your hand if you've ever said that....

...and look around. All the raised hands belong to women. And possibly to one or two guys who work in fashion.

Androgyny will not be complete until we purge one more word from the English language: "outfit." Ask yourself this: When you have a party or a business meeting or a "something" is coming up, do you always think to yourself, "I need a new outfit"? Or like me, when I realized we might be attending a friend's rehearsal party and his wedding, I immediately thought: "Fun ... but now I need two outfits."

Men never buy outfits. They buy a shirt. Done. Or shorts. Or a pair of pants, at which time they also announce the size of their waist in public to God and the clerk and anyone else standing around.

Or men buy an entire suit. And they know, just as surely as they know linen will never hold up in July in Pennsylvania, that the suit on the rack will not fit and will absolutely need to be altered to whatever bumps and slumps happen to exist on their bodies.

Women diet when clothing doesn't fit. And feel miserable and horrified about not fitting into their "size." I sometimes wish I had entered a profession that requires a uniform. Any kind: flight attendant, Dunkin' Donuts counter person, brain surgeon, and so on--it doesn't really matter. I'm at the point where I can barely stand the idea of choosing what to wear to work.

Why is it wrong to wear the same thing every day even when you don't have a uniform rule to fall back on? Men do it all the time. Check out any casual office and the men are wearing one of the following: khakis and a blue shirt / a white shirt / a blue and white shirt / a golf shirt (in summer).

My own personal mission is to start thinking "clothes," not "outfits," but it's hard. "Outfit" sounds as feminine as lace or ribbons or control top pantyhose. It's kind of a fun word to use. But women should realize that until we stop referring to our respective wardrobes as outfits, we won't fully take each other seriously as we address the shortfall in profits this quarter at the board meeting or the delay in shipping last month with our clients.

Understand this as surely as you understand which color nail polish looks best with your summer tan: Some woman, in some meeting, some day will be listening to you and thinking, even as you speak your effective business-speak and make your powerpoints extremely well, "Cute outfit!" Or worse, "Yikes! Who's her designer? The San Francisco 49ers?"

It's funny and disturbing at the same time. I love the fact that I can count on other women noticing my outfits, good or bad, and that kind of bonds us somehow. I hate knowing that men never sit in a meeting and wonder where another guy got his tie.

Is this a bad thing? Is it true that we've come a long way, baby, but now we take note of someone's Manola Blahniks instead of her apron? Maybe it's better news than that. Maybe women regularly process two completely distinct thoughts at the same time: "Jeez, Amy is really nailing all those fixed costs that management keeps screaming about, and isn't her oyster white blouse and skirt with the chunky gold necklace a great combination"?

Gloria Steinem notwithstanding, it's no fun to go buy a pair of slacks. The end. You may as well turn me loose in Macy's with a single spotlight above a solitary rack of slacks and cloak the rest of the store in inky blackness. It would be that weird a shopping experience.

It's no accident that Ann Taylor displays the scarves and jewelry and "everything else" right by the checkout: "Do you need a scarf to go with that?" Do I need a scarf? Does anyone need a silk scarf?

I have a baby shower coming up this weekend. The peach outfit? Or the khaki skirt / blue blouse outfit? With the black sandals. And the dangle earrings. That'll do it.

No comments: