Saturday, July 11, 2009

A year? A whole year?

I grant you that I may be well out of the demographic curve that contributed to this survey, but it's hard to believe I've hit the one year mark. Then again, maybe I have.

According to the Daily Telegraph, women spend about a year of their lives picking out what clothing to wear. Between the work clothes and parties and weddings and dates, the survey reports that we spend one year rifling through clothing and putting together outfits.

Newspapers love to report on studies like this one, surveys that sum up the various mundane activities that take up our lives. How many years we sleep, eat, pee...God knows what else. But two things are curious to me about this survey. The first is this: how could it take women a year to pick clothing when we all wear the same thing? If you don't believe me, you don't read Bill Cunningham every week in the NY Times.

It's not exactly like women are a pallet of eclectic tastes, colors, styles and fashion. We all read the same magazines, shop at the same stores and - surprise! - eventually come up with nearly exact replicas of each other's "looks." How could it take us a year to make those decisions?

My second thought is this: when will we ever hear about a comparable survey about men? I know when: never. And that's okay. But I wish we could just all agree that surveys like this pretty much invalidate little things we've all come to trust as absolutes. Things like, mmmm, the women's movement? Equal opportunity? Here's a quote from the report:

"What you wear has a direct impact on how you feel about yourself and it is important a woman feels exceptional in her outfit.

"Whatever the occasion your clothes portray an image and we understand this is fundamentally important to women."

I agree! You do feel better is a great outfit and sure, it's important to women! It's just not important to men and in spite of the quickly departed metrosexual man, it never will be. It's impossible for me to believe that what a man wears has to make him feel exceptional. Please. Men don't spend 52 minutes choosing holiday clothing. Men don't try on two things every morning before deciding what to wear.

So why? Is it all about our own confidence? Is it wanting to be attractive? Is it wanting to be envied by the women around us and desired by the men? We've come a long way, baby, from work boots and work shirts. True to our nature, we now admit out loud that clothing matters to us and spending time on what we wear is worthwhile.

The mistake the women's movement made all those years ago was positing that women are just like men and should get absolutely equal treatment in all ways, particularly in the workplace. The first part of that statement is ridiculous; the second part is admirable and there's no reason it can't happen. But articles and surveys like this set us back a good fifty years or so in terms of our fight for "equality." Good God, if something as simple as what to wear that day sets you back twenty minutes every day, how can you manage a multi-million dollar budget? I know those two tasks are incongruous but I guarantee you that some man, some where had that exact thought after reading this report.


Chris Casey said...

Renee! You had me laughing out loud.
I am sorry, but I have spent many an hour sitting in the car reading or listening to the radio while Mrs C and her sisters and nieces perused various stores. Having said that, I would put the average at about one hour a week, and that is only 52 hours a year, or two days plus four hours. Even over fifty years, that is only 108 days. I think they are exagerating. I guy had to have done this study, it only seems to guys like our wife has been in the store a year!
Personally, I think it is commendable that women are more fashion conscious, because let's face it, we guys are slobs. If we could get away with having our business meetings in shorts and tank tops, it would be a given. There is some food for thought.

renee said...

Thanks, Chris. Glad to enjoyed the post.

Well, I think we'd all - or most of us anyway - would wear sweats and Tshirts almost everywhere if we could.

Although there's something to be said for comfort, I suggest there is also a need dressing appropriately. What you might wear to the school gym isn't necessarily the same clothing you'd wear to a meeting of the school board.

And on a personal note, the only time I HATE seeing men in tank tops is on a airplane. Please. I need your armpits in front of me or next to me in such close quarters? I don't think so.