A Defense of Fashion and Clothing

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  1. He thinks he is a flower to be looked at,
    And when he pulls his frilly nylon panties right up tight,
    He feels a dedicated follower of fashion.

  2. Murali says:

    It seems like a waste of money to buy trousers which look and feel just like another, but only 3 times the price. Unless you’re telling me that the leg cuffs of the more expensive ones don’t wear out even if they were to drag on the floor. For a lot of clothing items, the more expensive ones do not seem clearly so superior as to warrant such a large price difference. I will admit that shoes are different. A good $120 pair from Clark’s is much more durable and comfortable than the $30 pair from BATA (which I believe stands for Buy And Throw Away)Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Murali says:

      I’ve no problem paying a premium for quality. It’s when the premium paid is all about branding/signalling/exclusivity…

      But as Damon says, it’s your money.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        @murali @oscar-gordon

        1. I question the feels the same part. Suits and dress pants are still often made of wool. I can tell the difference between cheap feeling wool (scratchy and uncomfortable) and wool that is weaved or done fine enough to remove the scratch. Cotton is a bit different.

        2. The feel does not cover aesthetic detailing or design.

        3. I still think buying cheap costs more in the long run as mentioned above. I said it in before but I had a pair of Frye boots that lasted me 12 years. The only thing I needed to do was polish them and get the heel replaced every few years. Cheap stuff tends to bust at the seems or fall into disrepair pretty quickly and this ends up in landfills.Report

        • Murali in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          As I said, I agree with you about shoes, but I think 12 years would be pushing it for work shoes. My current pair of black shoes has lasted for 4 years. My previous $30 pair lasted me 2 months. I stopped wearing it regularly 2 years ago when my brother bought me a more casual set (since its weird for grad students in philosophy to wear black leather shoes to school). But I’ve not come across black leather shoes/boots which didn’t last without regular care and polish. Which is part of what goes on. When you wear $300 shoes, you’re going to be more careful of tramping on a muddy patch while wearing them. You’re going to be more careful with taking your shoes off and not just take one of them off with your other shoe. If ever it gets wet in the rain, you’re going to want to remove water stains as quickly as possible and may even want to use only the finest horsehair brush to apply polish. We take extra care of our expensive stuff because it is expensive. You almost never see a Lamborghini with a thick layer of dust on it, or scratches on the paint. That’s partly because it’s driver is extra careful with it and worries over every scratch.Report

    • veronica d in reply to Murali says:

      @murali — If they literally look and feel the same, then sure. However, good fashion does not literally look and feel the same.

      Of course, there is a question of perception here. Perhaps you would judge two things as looking and feeling “basically the same,” whereas someone else would note the difference. But more, people are not always sensitive to real things in their lives. In other words, you might say, “Oh these pants are as good as any others,” but other people might notice that you look far better in one pair compared to the other. Also, you might feel better in one compared to the other, even if these different sensations do not enter into your conscious evaluation. If you aren’t thinking about your clothes, then you might fail to notice actual things.

      In any case, these things can make a difference, even if you are not sensitive to the difference. How you look matters. What people see when they look at you matters.

      (People often claim they don’t care about fashion or makeup, but often their behavior suggests otherwise. Judge by what people do, not what they say.)

      Of course, none of this is meant to deny that you get to choose for yourself. Of course you do, but none of us are perfect utility-maximizers. Don’t pretend.

      Regarding the famous $30 shirt that is as good as a $300 dollar shirt — if you find it, then buy the $30 shirt (provided you want that style shirt). This is all a big “duh!” Fashion is clearly an area where there is much room for smart shopping.

      Except I’m plus-sized and trans-bodied, so the market serves me poorly. Just having a store where I am treated consistently well, and where I can find a variety of garments in my size and that look good on me, is worth paying a premium for. It’s different for different people, but having a “mainstream” body is a kind of privilege.

      But my point is, yes, there are dumb “label cults” and overpriced crap. But that doesn’t mean you should believe the stark opposite. Reverse stupidity is not smart. There is good stuff. There are better fabrics. Their is better workmanship. Design matters, if you care about how you look.

      Furthermore, service matters. I get custom fitted bras. I pay for that. It’s worth it. Reliability matters. If I get a cheap-ass garment at Forever 21, it might last. It might not. Who knows where it was made. If I get a better garment at Norstrom, it is more dependably good.

      It is not always true that quality tracks price, but it is often true. Understand that.

      The other night I went out dancing in $300 leather platform go-go boots that I got from Fluevog. At the same time I wore a tacky little $11 miniskirt I got at Forever 21. The outfit worked. The boots did precisely what I needed, as did the skirt.

      Right now I’m at work, wearing sneakers from Dansko, $100, heavy duty opaque tights I got at Sock Dreams, maybe $25, a pair of fake-distressed denim shorts from Torrid, probably $40, and a really fun designer woman’s-cut striped tee I got at Nordstrom, around $80.

      Plus I’m wearing a mega-expensive custom fit bra — but you men can stay quiet about what I spend on bras. Trust me, that ain’t yours to talk about.

      Plus I’m wearing makeup! Take that, redpill chumps!


      Anyway, you can be smug about what people spend on clothes. They can be smug about what you spend on clothes. We can all mock the pretentious assbags who spend tons on golf equipment. Perhaps I enjoy a small TV as much as a large one and think that folks who buy big TVs are chumps. Whatever.

      Actually, I have one of those big HD TVs and I love it. But anyway, my point is, you can be a smug jerk if you want. I suggest doing the opposite.Report

      • Murali in reply to veronica d says:

        When it comes to off the rack trousers, at least I have found that fit and comfort doesn’t track price very well. Though which brand fits better depends on which state of fatness/thinness I am at that time. Especially when I’m slimmer, a number of the cheaper brands like G2000 or Thomas Smith fit better than more pricey ones like Goldlion.Report

      • Kim in reply to veronica d says:

        And your big HD TV doesn’t show the jpeg artifacts in the Failbow of Joy nearly as well as my computer monitor.Report

  3. Damon says:

    Frankly, I really don’t care about this. It’s your money and you do with it what you want. The only thing that annoys me is people who dress to fit in a group while railing that they are “not part of the herd” and don’t conform. Right…they are just confirming to another subgroup. Back in college, someone complimented me on my choice of music but then added, “you listen to the good music, but you don’t dress like a “progressive”.” So f’ing what? But because I didn’t dress a certain way, I wasn’t really part of the group. She failed to connect the dots that she was one of the “sheeple” she railed against in different clothing.Report

  4. Jaybird says:

    I work in IT which allows the following group of prejudices to flourish:

    I make distinctions between, on the one hand, the concepts of “you can’t pay too much for a good, comfortable pair of shoes”/”dress for the job you want, not the job you have” and the concepts related to fashion in the universe where one is going out to the club or out to dinner with one’s main squeeze.

    Work has a set of rules associated. Now, I work in IT which allows for a certain set of pathologies to flourish (“please don’t wear your ‘WHO FARTED?’ t-shirt unless it’s Friday”) and that colors a handful of things but “utilitarianism” is generally the rule in my particular field (you never know when you’ll be telling the new guy to go under the raised floor, after all) and I am certain that utilitarianism sets a great many rules for a great many jobs.

    That said, there are a number of jobs that see, yes I’m going to say “signaling” again, signaling as important. These jobs are more likely to have uniform dress. You know who the managers are when you walk into the room (or, I suppose, the people shooting for manager) and you know, immediately, when the unix folkx have also been invited to the meeting.

    (Now, after a year or three of this, this becomes its own sort of heraldry. Wear a tie and the boss asks if you’re going to a funeral or if you have a job interview somewhere else.)

    If we’re not talking about the culture of work but the culture at the club, then we’re discussing the utility of dressing like a peacock in order to attract peahens. Having a monogamous, permanent, relationship with my lifepartner has colored my opinion on that sort of thing as well. (“Jaybird, we’re going out to dinner. You probably want to put on pants.”)

    At the end of the day, it’s hard to escape the fact that fashion is fashion and transient and silly and invisible to people in the moment and only visible in retrospect. (Google “70’s fashion”, “80’s fashion”, “90’s fashion” and then look around the next time you go to the mall and realize that these knuckleheads look exactly as silly and wonder why in the hell you’re not noticing.)Report

    • Richard Hershberger in reply to Jaybird says:

      It’s quite fascinating to go to Google Images and run through the decades. Which decades have aged well? I think that the 1930s holds up, for both men and women. I have a half-baked hypothesis that this has to do with the economy tanking, with the limited resources keeping fashions in check.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

        The fashion of the period roughly covering the three decades between 1920 and 1950 holds up because most people are only exposed to it through media. It was before the great shit to casual wear when not at work but at the same time looks modern enough compared to late 19th and early 20th century so that people won’t feel strange wearing it. The people who like to dress up in clothing from this time on occasion really don’t change it that much. The people that like to wear clothing from the 19th and early 20th century at times, mainly Steampunk Cosplayers, feel compelled to modify what they wear a lot to make it more colorful and funky and less bourgeoisie and restricting. If the Steampunk crowd was more accurate, the most common color that men would wear would be black, grey, or white. When you add in the pop history rather than actual history that most people have about the interwar years than your making it even more attractive. Its all about Hollywood, big bands, and speakeasies rather than a revived KKK, race riots, and economic depravity and poverty for at least half the period plus the scarcity of war.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Jaybird says:


      1. This is an interesting observation. Certain professions demand certain areas of dress more than others. IT workers tend to be known for casualness. When I worked at a law firm that was business casual with jeans Friday, the IT workers stretched business casual to its logical conclusion. The lawyers still dressed more professionally even if they were not going to court or a depo.

      2. There are also geographical differences. The East Coast is more formal than the West Coast. London is more formal than New York. Yet the East Coast might allow for a bit more leeway with suiting than places in the Midwest. I once got into a debate about whether you could wear brown shoes with a grey suit. I was told something like “You don’t understand!! I live in Pittsburgh!! Old guys here don’t know how to think about these things!!”

      So you have occupation and geographic differences.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Jaybird says:

      I am also talking beyond the work and the club because I am not really the clubbing type either.

      I just don’t understand why people would want to go out looking like they went through a tornado or just by grabbing something without thinking “Will this make me look like a schlub.” I can understand lounge around the house clothing or grungy clothing for gardening work or other physical labor. But why go out in a pair of shorts and an old ripped t-shirt from a sporting event that was 20 years ago or some shirt that looks like it was just grabbed and not even looked at or tried on for it. There are a lot of guys who make strange decisions when it comes to polo shirts. Big, horizontal shit-brown stripes being the most inexplicable but common sighting especially when combined with shorts and white socks pulled all the way up.Report

      • Murali in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Shit can come in a lot of different shades of brown, and brown is a decent colour for thick horizontal stripes depending on the background colour of the shirt. (What is puzzling is why anyone would want to wear thin horizontal stripes. ) Also, horizontal stripes are fine for most polo shirt occasions and are better than plain colour ones except when you play tennis or golf (and perhaps mostly tennis), e.g. weekend shopping, picnics, casual dinners etc.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        “But why go out in a pair of shorts and an old ripped t-shirt from a sporting event that was 20 years ago or some shirt that looks like it was just grabbed and not even looked at or tried on for it.”

        Because they were on top of the drawer and it took me 30 seconds to get dressed and I don’t care what any of the people I’ll see that day think of my outfit and it is seasonably appropriate and meets the minimum standards for any establishments I may enter so why spend any more time on it if time is at a premium for me?

        Or, maybe, I like those clothes.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        I just don’t understand why people would want to go out looking like they went through a tornado or just by grabbing something without thinking “Will this make me look like a schlub.”

        I’ve very consciously done this very thing in the past on the premise that anyone who would judge me by the clothes I wear isn’t someone I want to talk to.Report

        • Kazzy in reply to Stillwater says:


          How would you feel if I said about folks like yourself, “I just don’t understand why people would want to go out looking like they got dragged through Barney’s or spent three hours getting dressed, thinking the whole time, “Will this make me look pretentious?” I mean, you’d probably say I was being really insulting and failing to understand folks like you and being anti-fashion and whatnot, right?

          So now, maybe kinda sorta do you understand why your position here might be the least bit objectionable to people?

          The issue isn’t your choices. It is how you “defend” them.Report

        • Kim in reply to Stillwater says:

          Everyone will judge you based on the clothes you wear.
          It’s instinctual and we can’t help it.

          That said, so long as you look like you put a modicum of effort into yourself, and can wear what you do with confidence, you’re good.Report

        • veronica d in reply to Stillwater says:

          [I’m going a bit off topic here, but I promise I will mention neither rats nor pigs.]


          I’ve very consciously done this very thing in the past on the premise that anyone who would judge me by the clothes I wear isn’t someone I want to talk to.

          I wonder if this is actually smart, though. Like, I’m not calling @stillwater out. Surely he knows his own mind better than I. But still, it seems unlikely that this is really totally true.

          Like, say he sees some really pretty woman, or meets some man who really impresses him. Okay look, I’m not talking about the case where the woman or the man is shitty about it. I’m not saying that they turn up their noses or say something mean. Just, there is that subtle kind of judgement that everyone carries around. I suspect that if he truly didn’t want to talk to anyone who did that, he’d literally be a hermit. Like, maybe there’s a small collection of fourteen people in the United States that would fit the bill, but he won’t meet them cuz they never go outside.

          Anyway, myself, I care what people think about me, and some people who I wish would like me probably don’t cuz of how I look, how I dress, the choices I make. I’m not talking about the openly transphobic bigots or just shitty-judgy people. I ignore them. Psychologically I have to. I’d go nuts if I paid them any mind. But still, people judge, in subtle ways. I know they judge. I judge also, although I try to be good about it. But yeah, if I see some woman in this really tight skirt that just kills — dammit I’m going to respond to that differently from if she was having a schlubo day. It’s a bit different for men, cuz sexism, but still. We judge men too.

          People judge me. I can sense it. They way I look affects how I am treated, even by people “I want to talk to.”

          So anyway, a statement such as “anyone who would judge me by the clothes I wear isn’t someone I want to talk to” sounds less like a fact and more like a self-assertion, a statement of value and aspiration. Which fine, but it’s probably not realistic. I don’t recommend it as an attitude.Report

      • But why go out in a pair of shorts and an old ripped t-shirt from a sporting event that was 20 years ago or some shirt that looks like it was just grabbed and not even looked at or tried on for it.

        I’m not that bad, but shorts and a t-shirt that fits and is sans rips… because I’m running my errands on the bike and it’s 80 and sunny already. Because I’m mowing the grass. Because I’m going to the hardware store to get parts to fix the broken toilet. Most importantly, because it’s part of the culture here. If you want to “dress”, that’s cool. But most of the people of all ages you’ll see walking across the parking lot at the grocery in the middle of the day at this time of year will be in shorts. Jeans when it’s colder. Running shoes.

        Work costume is different. Jeans and a button-down oxford shirt with the sleeves rolled up said “I’m a telecom tech weenie.” Coat and tie said “I’m one of the legislative staff.” 30-35 years ago there was more variety — sometimes I’d wear a suit just because I wanted to look sharp (and knew that there was little chance that I’d be pulling cables under tables that day). Mostly what happened was a wife, a house, two kids, and the “costuming” budget got cut back sharply.Report

        • Saul Degraw in reply to Michael Cain says:

          @Michael Cain

          I did notice that there are often geographic boundaries. The East Coast, especially BosWash, is more formal than the West. Though cities in California might be more formal than states in the North. I think politicians are still expected to wear suits and ties in California. During the recent scandal involving Oregon’s last governor, I noticed that the state politicians in Oregon were dressed a lot more casually than politicians in NY or CA would be during a press conference.

          How many offices in Denver have gone casual and business casual for every day wear? The trend for lawyers now tends to be court ready but not business formal all the time.Report

    • Gabriel Conroy in reply to Jaybird says:


      then we’re discussing the utility of dressing like a peacock in order to attract peahens.

      I was working on a crossword the other day and “peahen” was an answer. I had never heard of the word before, but it fit. I wasn’t sure what it meant but I didn’t bother looking it up. And now, just about a week or two later, I see someone using that word. ‘Tis ever thus, I guess.Report

  5. Kim says:

    Really, fashion isn’t the worst thing we have to worry about. Self-mutilation in pursuit of flawed beauty metrics is far more detrimental.Report

  6. Richard Hershberger says:

    My critique is not of people who figure out what looks good on them and what is of good quality, and are willing to pay for this. My critique rather is of people who think that “trendy” is a compliment. Trendy, to me, is all about running with the herd. For some it is about leading the herd, but it is still all about the herd. If last year’s fashion looks ridiculous, it looked ridiculous last year, too.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Richard Hershberger says:


      I suppose what I am pushing back on is:

      1. The idea that people who are into clothing are only going after trends and being trendy. This seems to be the common assumption.

      2. I do think there is something where aesthetics matter or are at least interesting. There is a kind of forced conformity in anti-fashion where every guy is supposed to show is heterosexuality and masculinity by just wanting to wear shorts, jeans, a t-shirt (preferably relating to sporting or a golf shirt) and old New Balances/Nikes or flip-flops. What is wrong with purchasing something because you think it looks unique?Report

      • Kim in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        I’m pretty sure if you referred to most pieces of clothing as “Wearable Art”, people would understand more.

        I, in particular, like functional art a good deal better than simply “art for art’s sake”, where one can make a distinction between the twain.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        So now we have anti-fashion! Forcing conformity!!! GOOD GOD! Get your battle axes ready, everyone! Just make sure they’re not from last season!Report

        • Saul Degraw in reply to Kazzy says:

          Do you ever find it strange how you get hyperbolic over my posts in ways that you don’t over the posts of everyone else and this is after being gone for a while?

          I saw an attitude and I commented on it which seems to be the point of OT. We generate discussion and I was given free reign to post about what I please when made a regular contributor.Report

          • Kazzy in reply to Saul Degraw says:

            I quoted you… how hyperbolic could I have been?

            Honestly, dude, the problem is that I don’t think you have any clue how offensive you are at times and I attempt to use a variety of tactics to point that out to you because I think if you really did get it, you’d adjust your approach. Because I think you’re a good guy who has zero intent to offend. Yet offend you do.

            You’re into fashion. That’s awesome. You seem to love it and get joy from it and I think it is great that you found that for yourself. More people should be so lucky to find things they love as much as you love fashion (and the arts).

            You don’t get people who aren’t into fashion. Hmmm… This is a little problematic. I mean, it doesn’t take much perspective to say, “Different strokes for different folks.” It is a bit offensive that you relegate differing opinions to the “Can’t be understood” bin as if there is something fundamentally odd about them.

            But then you go to saying people who dress like I do sometimes look like they went through a tornado or are schlubby. I mean, that is straight up offensive. And it boggles my mind that you can’t see it. I’m hoping pointing it out to you would make this obvious but maybe that is a fool’s errand. Similarly, terms like “Dude Bros” and offhand comments about sports fans are offensive. Not “Keep me up crying at night” offensive but “What the fuck, man? Seriously? What if I talk about you like that?” offensive. Do you not see that? Or do you not care?Report

          • @kazzy

            He is not that offensive.

            And he’s right: you relentlessly single him out. And, contrary to your protestations, you have no particularly good reason for it.

            Saul, one of just a few at most among us, is willing to share who he is with us in a much less filtered and posing way than most of the rest of us are. You, Kazzy, just don’t like how comfortable he is in having and expressing opinions that depart from a norm that you prefer to see maintained in your particular demographic and social milieu, which is basically the exact same one Saul occupies.

            That’s what I see going on in your interaction with Saul. Social norm enforcement, where the norms are extremely particular to one social context (namely, the hip, white, maybe even male, self-aware-of-being-self-aware millennial). Saul’s a unique individual who doesn’t adhere to that norm very well, and you give him constant hell for that.

            Well, fuck that. You should lay off Saul, maybe for good. Not that you have to, but you should. Or, at least I want you to. I’d rather continue to find out things about who Saul is that most of the rest of us don’t offer to share about ourselves to each other here, than see you successfully bring him into line.

            Saul’s right to complain: you’ve been in his face, and only his face, way too often, way too intensely, for way too long.Report

            • Kazzy in reply to Michael Drew says:

              Ummm… Seriously? Fine. I’ll give Saul the kids glove treatment. I’ll pretend that when he talks about “Dude bros” and working out and confidence and sports and casual wear as if they are objectively wrong things, he’s just sharing an inoffensive opinion. I’ll forget I lived with two theater majors in college and attended their shows and know far more about Saul’s culture than he does mine and read his “defenses” and apologize for the thoroughly anti-Saul culture I contribute to.

              Saul is a unique snowflake and I’m just an asshole hammer trying to make him smash beer cans on his head. Macro brew beer cans, of course.

              Seriously, fuck this place.Report

              • Dave in reply to Kazzy says:


              • Dave in reply to Kazzy says:


                I’ll forget I lived with two theater majors in college and attended their shows and know far more about Saul’s culture than he does mine and read his “defenses” and apologize for the thoroughly anti-Saul culture I contribute to…

                If anyone here is the epitome of the anti-Saul culture you refer to, it’s me. I’d be the most cultured person in the world if it could measured in 45 lb increments or the number of articles that I’ve read at T-Nation.

                I may have more things in common with you than with most other people here, yet our reactions to Saul are almost polar opposite. See this:


                Actually, this almost looks like the same conversation that just took place. I’m not judging you at all but I do have to wonder why I’m able to let all of this roll off of me, especially when there are other things that can set me off quite easily.Report

              • switters in reply to Dave says:

                While I’ve spoken up in Sauls defense to Kazzy in the past, I think Kazzy is spot on here. This thing Saul does where he wines about people not getting him while by all appearances making absolutely no effort to understand those unlike him is, well, grating.

                These are two representative quotes that i just pulled from Sauls post/comments:

                “I agree on ear gauges and in SF, there are plenty of people over 30 with them. I just don’t get it. The smaller ones are okay but some of the holes are huge!!!” [you could change ear gauges to tatoos, or working out, or bro culture, or anything Saul isn’t into]

                Followed by, as a defense of himself “What is wrong with purchasing something because you think it looks unique?”

                All the while being completely oblivious to the contradiction. For the record the answer to the second question is nothing, Which most everyone around here seems to get except, well, Saul.Report

              • Chris in reply to switters says:

                What’s more, Saul’s a 30-something, grown-ass person, one who’s clearly limited in experience and knowledge, to be sure, making him seem younger than he is at times, but while Kazzy no doubt focuses on Saul (for reasons Kazzy elucidates), I see nothing in particular that he’s said that crosses any sort of boundary. I’ve mostly kept my mouth shut about the posts to which Kazzy tends to object mostly because what I’d say would be much harsher. I think Saul gets off remarkably easy ’round here, because of the culture and that weird thing where people see him as a bit of a child.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Dave says:


                We all have things that get our druthers up. For you, it is pseudoscience. For me, it is judgey people. Especially those who lack self-awareness and reflection.

                But, hey, if I’m too hard on Saul, I can easily skip over everything he writes. Sadly, because of the current state of the site, that would mean about every other piece.

                ETA: If you follow my responses to Saul closely, you’ll notice that I almost always leap in in a manner that is fairly constructive. Saul either ignores these arguments or in responding to them and others, doubles down on the parts I find problematic and offensive and eventually I don’t play so nice. But the idea that I’m just bullying him isn’t supported by the substantive argument I make counter to him.

                I remember a post he wrote up on unoccupied apartments in Manhattan. When I mentioned the unique way that NYC income tax encourages people to claim other residences — as well as other flaws in the argument — he simply never responded. So all you’re left with is these hanging comments or the flame wars we engage in because that is when he opts to respond… to cry foul/victim.Report

              • Glyph in reply to Kazzy says:

                But, hey, if I’m too hard on Saul, I can easily skip over everything he writes.

                What do you hope to accomplish, at this point, for yourself or for Saul? Do you see either of you changing? Does this continued pattern of engagement seem fruitful to you? What’s the point?

                Sadly, because of the current state of the site, that would mean about every other piece.

                So write some pieces of your own. If you have the time to harry one person over and over about their relatively minor social sins of blinkeredness and snobbiness, on life-or-death topics crucial to the continued existence of all that is good and holy in the world – such as fashion, art, beer, and exercise programs – surely you also have the time to produce much-worthier OPs that combat the insidious nature of their perfidy.

                This crusade of yours looks petty, and ugly, and a lot like bullying* to me. I don’t like it. It’d be better IMO for all involved to just drop it. If you don’t like what Saul has to say, or the way he engages (or not) with your counters, then don’t read him or engage him. It’s totally simple.

                *And yes, getting in the same person’s face, over and over, is bullying. And saying they brought it on themselves when they did not provoke you via direct personal engagement of any kind is bully-justifying victim-blaming. And crowing that they then cry foul about this repeated behavior is about a half-step away from asking what, are they gonna go home and cry to their mommas now?

                Seriously, let it go. Whatever this is, is beneath you. Just let it go. Someone Is Wrong On The Internet every day. Let it go.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Glyph says:

                So be it then. I suppose I thought a major point of this site was engagement of ideas. I engage with Saul’s ideas and attempt to dialogue with him. He has little interest in dialoguing with those who disagree with him or who are critical of him. If we want to kowtow to that, so be it. But then this site isn’t what it once was nor what it could be. Saul should be encouraged to take on his critics, not shielded from them because they hurt his feelings.

                And this isn’t bullying. Not even close. It is shameful that that word is now part of this conversation.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

                It’s possible to engage with an idea without using the word “you”.

                When one uses the word “you” when one engages with an idea, it can easily be interpreted as no longer talking about the idea but talking about the person who has the idea.Report

              • Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

                I agree, except that in Saul’s case, with his “Here’s why what I like is superior” posts is that they are mostly couched, explicitly, as personal preferences of Saul’s, along with Saul’s confusion about why people like other stuff that he doesn’t. It’s difficult to address the “ideas” without addressing Saul because the ideas are Saul.Report

              • Chris in reply to Glyph says:

                Unless there is some reason you know of that Saul is not capable of standing up for himself, “Bullying” is an unfair charge.

                Look, there are other authors here who’ve written much better argued stuff than this and been treated much more harshly by many more people than just Kazzy, with no complaints from anyone, including the authors. Why? Because they can stand up for themselves, and they know if they write something with which people disagree strongly, people will disagree strongly. This is particularly true if the posts contain what amount to judgments of other people’s preferences or lifestyles, as Saul’s comments and previous posts in this vein, if not this one in particular, certainly do (the last sentence of the OP here certainly seems to do so as well).Report

              • Glyph in reply to Chris says:

                I have no inherent objection to someone critiquing Saul’s posts, or the assumptions behind them, or their implications; I’ve done it myself on occasion, and will do it again.

                I object to the repeated strident personal engagement of Saul the person BY the same person(s), and there’s no doubt in my mind it’s Saul’s person that people find grating. Jaybird was the first one to mention that he finds ear gauges kinda ridic, and Don Zeko seconded that; but the fact that Saul agrees with them gets held up as an exemplar of his uniquely “problematic and offensive” views.

                Even if someone puts a “Kick Me” sign on their own back, somewhere around the 10th or 12th kick, I start to object.

                If I come to you and ask you to critique me and mine, then you are my teacher for whom I should be grateful, even if you must needs lecture me and rap my knuckles with a ruler from time to time.

                If you unsolicited pursue me and constantly harangue me and rap my knuckles repeatedly, we have something else.

                And if there are multiples of you, then we have something else again.

                Frequency matters. Scale matters. There’s a difference between me giving you a noogie, and 5 of us holding you down and shaving your head.

                I said what I said not only because I don’t want anybody to be in the position I see Saul as being in; I said what I said because I see those putting him in that position as likely to be made diminished and unhappy by this pattern also.

                I seriously, no lie, think Kazzy would feel better if he let it go. Neither Kazzy nor Saul owe each other anything, and even if they did, I highly doubt either one of them are getting it. And I know it would look better to me, for Kazzy to be the bigger person, take a deep breath and just walk away from someone whom he obviously finds unbearably-frustrating. It’s such a simple thing.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Glyph says:


                I signaled Saul out with regard to gages because A) he is the author and B) he is simultaneously arguing that he is a victim of undue criticism for his personal choices and uniqueness and then criticizes another’s personal choices and uniqueness. The hypocrisy is bothersome.

                And I go after Jaybird plenty for his way of discussing things here. But he is a big boy and takes it.

                Could I handle this stuff better? Yea? Probably? I’m trying to. Again, if you look at my initial forays into his posts, you’ll see that I substantively engage with the topic. Sometimes I even agree! It is when Saul double and triples down on what I consider to be offensive or problematic that I say, “No more Mr. Nice Guy.”

                Here is my initial comment: https://ordinary-times.com/blog/2015/09/22/a-defense-of-fashion-and-clothing/#comment-1076148

                Disagreeing? Yes. Attacking? Hardly.

                Then this: https://ordinary-times.com/blog/2015/09/22/a-defense-of-fashion-and-clothing/#comment-1076330

                A direct response to his comment with, what I think, is a substantive critique of his starting position, namely how broadly held the belief he is pushing back against is. That seems like good fodder for discussion, no?

                Does Saul engage either of these comments? No. Does he have to? No. But it is kind of weak sauce not to. I’ve demonstrated myself to be a serious interlocutor here… I’m no troll. And this space is built on engagement of ideas that run contrary to one’s own. It is why I read Saul’s pieces in the first place… I think maybe I’ll pick up something new and different. Sometimes I do. But more often than not, I see a gross misrepresentation of a culture or worldview that I might be a part of and attempt to offer a different perspective. Again, isn’t that what we’re here to do? Saul doesn’t seem to want to do that. He ignores my comments, responding only to those in which he can cry victim. It’s sad, really.

                But, hey, if that is what we want this place to be, so be it. It just becomes infinitely less interesting.Report

              • Chris in reply to Glyph says:

                Don’t get me wrong, I think Kazzy would feel better if he let it go. I know it’s helped me stick around. I just don’t think it’s bullying, and I think the bullying charge is deeply unfair.

                As for the ear gauges, the difference between Jay/Zeko and Saul is why this can’t be separated from the personal: Jay and, at least to my knowledge, Zeko, have made no claims to the effect that they don’t understand why people don’t just get that they like, well, whatever it is that they like, so their adding that they don’t like ear gauges and find them immature (though I think it was mostly Saul who went on to call them immature) doesn’t come off as hypocritical and the way it does with Saul. This is pretty typical of Saul’s output: “I like books in the NYRB, and I don’t understand why people can’t accept that. Besides, I can’t understand why people feel the need to perpetuate childhood by liking video games and sci fi novels.”

                Like I said, I agree with you that Kazzy would be better off just letting Saul be Saul and focusing on people he can respect even in disagreement, but I understand why he’s frustrated by Saul making certain claims and not by Jay or Zeko doing so. And I understand why it’s about Saul, not just about the ideas: Saul makes it so.

                All that said, I’ll drop out now. One of the reasons I don’t comment on most things that Saul says anymore is because I would say much worse than what Kazzy’s saying, and if I say anymore here, I’m at risk of doing that. So I’ll just bow out, with my objection to the “bullying” charge registered.Report

              • Glyph in reply to Chris says:

                I know you are bowing out, and I will as well, with only this in response to the “bullying” bit.

                Bullying, like harassment, accrues much of its power from a pattern of repetition, and is not a simple black and white binary.

                To see this even more clearly, take a situation where there is clearly nothing wrong at all with an interaction or two, but that becomes wrong with sufficient repetition:

                If I hit on a girl I like once, that’s just hitting on a girl.

                If I hit on her twice, well, anything worth a shot, is worth a shot twice.

                If I keep hitting on her long after it’s obviously pointless and she has no interest in me, I am harassing her.

                It doesn’t surprise me at all that you and Kazzy don’t see this situation as having reached the tipping point and I do, or at least uncomfortably-approaching it. Maybe that’s due to political or personality differences, or personal history. I ask only that you think about it, and realize that your boundaries aren’t everyone’s.Report

              • Chris in reply to Glyph says:

                I hear you.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Glyph says:


                I hear you as well. But, at the same time, how many posts do I have to read by Saul wherein he takes aim at my little subset of the culture before we label him the bully? I mean, I don’t *have* to read it, obviously. Nor does he have to read my comments. No one is backed up against a wall or is having their email or phones blown up in the middle of the night with violent verbal attacks. We’re two grown men disagreeing on the internet. Am I going too far? Being unproductive? Acting like an ass? Maybe? I don’t know. But I think bullying is a word that is generally thrown around entirely too easily and this feels like another instance of such. I strenuously object to being labeled a bully because I called Saul “judgey”. Even if I did so repeatedly.Report

              • Glyph in reply to Kazzy says:

                Kaz, it’s not the ‘calling Saul judgey’ I have a problem with.

                It’s the ‘repeatedly’.

                If your point has been made, your point has been made. Those that can hear, have heard.

                There’s no need to keep responding to everything he writes with another variant of ‘WHADDYA MEAN, ‘YOU PEOPLE’?!”

                For argument’s sake, let’s assume he is intentionally taking aim at your corner of the culture. Who cares? How will it affect your life in any way? Is there some danger that Saul’s imputed POV will carry the day, with pogroms carried out against regular people who enjoy regular stuff? That cultural war is over, and has been at least since Elvis sang “Hound Dog” if not before.

                If you think that someone’s self-styled voice in the internet wilderness is just a bunch of unjustified whining, let ’em whine and get on with your day. There’s nothing to take personally.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Glyph says:


                But isn’t that a really ironic stance to take that Saul’s whole MO is to talk about how his little sphere is under attack? I mean, if I should just lay off him (which I probably should, conceded), why no push back from those he is more willing to hear from about how he should lay off all the things he goes after?

                I mean, seriously, Saul’s MO is to talk about the world as if it is a series of pogrom’s aimed specifically at him.

                The problem I have is I assume that maybe he will listen and will change. That seems unlikely if not assuredly not going to happen. Which is cool. That’s his bag. But I think we can do better than to feature a writer who has basically said, “I’m not going to change. I’m going to offend and ignore people who point that out.” The internet has plenty of space for that. But here?Report

              • Vikram Bath in reply to Glyph says:

                Glyph: There’s no need to keep responding to everything he writes with another variant of ‘WHADDYA MEAN, ‘YOU PEOPLE’?!”

                Is there not? Isn’t 99.9% of politics basically rehearsing the same arguments back and forth ad infinitum? When someone says something about building a wall along the Mexico border, do people just say “well, we’ve already rehearsed these arguments before, so why bother?” Or do they go nuts and say everything they had said before all over again as if this were the first time they had ever heard of the idea?

                Don’t get me wrong, I personally feel like I don’t want to get into many such reenactments, particularly when they seem so predictable, but there are many reenactments going on all over the place. I don’t see how this is different from any of the others.Report

              • Michael Drew in reply to Kazzy says:

                Is my reaction here in any way characteristic of “this” place, on this question or any other? I wouldn’t even say it’s characteristic of me, but it’s how I feel in this case. Moreover, you might notice, I’m commenting a lot less of late. There’s not much argument to be made that what I say in one of my maybe five comments a week these days does much to constitute what “this place” is recently.

                So don’t try to make what I think here representative of OT. Notice that you have more support than I do on this (which is just fine). If you don’t like that I think what I think here, that’s fine. Nevertheless, I do. But it’s not “this place” telling you it feels like that, it’s me. So don’t tell this place to fuck itself over this. If you want to tell someone to fuck themselves over me thinking this, go ahead and tell me to.Report

      • The idea that people who are into clothing are only going after trends and being trendy. This seems to be the common assumption.

        The word “fashion” would seem to be a large clue.Report

  7. Vikram Bath says:

    The person who wears Doc Martens, tartan, and a green army field jacket is showing just as much tribal affiliation as the person who wears Paul Smith shoes and Belvest suiting.

    How did you measure this? (Alternatively, how do you propose to measure this that would produce this result?)Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Vikram Bath says:


      I don’t know how you can measure any sort of signalling. The thing about signalling seems to be that it is:

      1. A word that everyone knows how to use because of the Internet

      2. Cognitive bias causes us to direct the signalling charge at things that we dislike socially or politically or culturally. Other people signal, I am sincere. That sort of thing.

      This is true for more than fashion and various cultures one might identify with. But I think wearing Doc Martens, Plaid, and a green army jacket is enough of a recognized look that it has become a uniform. The uniform is so recognizable that it is used by lazy costume designers as short-hand for and outcast who is “real” and “authentic”. This seems to be especially true when the character wearing the look is a teenage girl or a young college aged student.Report

      • Kim in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        You measure signalling by looking at insta-reads from the people you’re trying to signal.

        There are particular body mutilations that mark people as part of the rich and powerful. You really ought to learn how to recognize them, as rich and powerful people are not generally people who it is wise to piss off.Report

      • veronica d in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        The Less Wrong crowd has this notion of tabooing words, which means avoiding controversial terms, or terms that seem to replace analysis and thought, and in place using the meaning of the word. Obviously we cannot talk that way all the time, but it useful to taboo certain words in certain contexts.

        I think we should taboo “signaling” for these sorts of conversation.

        For example, If signaling means “caring what people think of me,” then sure, I care what people think of me. If it means “trying to fit into a social space,” then yep, guilty again. I want to fit in and be accepted. If it means “mark yourself so you stand out,” then sure, I have bright purple hair. I like standing out. (Note there is not contradiction here between “standing out” and “fitting in.” Social stuff is complicated that way.)

        A lot of the talk about “signaling” is actually talk about “social cheat codes.”

        You know, brightly colored hair is a social cheat code. It’s weird, right. But it’s true. My hair marks me as “probably cool” by a certain set of people. On the other hand, it marks me as “probably an evil SJW” by another.

        Myself, I’m happy with this signaling and its ramifications. It turns out that the folks who tend to like my hair include cool attractive women, whereas those who hate it include embittered nerd-bros who are terrible around women. I mean, this is just a good choice on my part.

        Plus I like my hair, I like the way it look, I feel great when I look in the mirror.

        So yeah, signaling. Learn how it works. Do it well. It’s worth it.

        Or not. Your choice. Social stuff matters a lot.

        We’re talking about clothes, yes? Dress how you want. I won’t judge your choice. I might notice how you look, though.Report

  8. Morat20 says:

    Randomly, as a non-fashion conscious IT guy (yes, I wear jeans and a polo shirt to work every day. Because I can. And yes, “do I have to wear a suit? God please no” was a consideration when choosing a career) I do have the following advice:

    When buying a suit, for the love of god, pay the 50 or 60 bucks to have it tailored to you, okay? The big suit warehouses places have someone right there. They adjust a small handful of things, and the suit no only looks twice as good ON you but is about 3 times more comfortable. I don’t understand people who don’t do this, and I’m a guy that keeps attempting to wear black shoes that are NOT dress shoes with a suit because “they’re not sneakers, so it counts as a dress shoe”.

    That being said, I have come to realize that there are brands that are sold for their association with popularity, trendiness, or wealth signaling….and brands that are known for their quality. (And yes, sometimes there’s overlap).

    The quality thing will sell me, because I have found they last longer, fit better, and look better.Report

  9. Kazzy says:

    I object to the very framing of this piece as articulated in the title: against whom are you defending clothing and fashion?Report

    • Nudists of America in reply to Kazzy says:

      We’re there, we’re bare, get used to it!Report

    • veronica d in reply to Kazzy says:

      @kazzy — I think we’re arguing against people who assume that more expensive clothing is always a case where the $30 shirt is “just as good” as the $300 shirt.

      Sure, that might happen. But what probably happens more is someone just doesn’t know the difference between expensive clothing and cheap clothing. Also, there are conflicts over identity being placed onto clothes in weird ways. The “rugged guy who doesn’t care about clothes” is a cultural marker just the same as “worldly man who buys the best.”

      Plus, gender.

      Anyway, my point is, wear what is comfortable to you, what you can afford, what is a smart buy, what looks good on you, and so on. But be aware, people who put effort into this will probably look better than you do, at least as much as clothing can make a difference. (Clothing can make a big difference.)

      So anyway, that.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to veronica d says:

        @veronica d

        I don’t doubt that critics of fashion in general or particular subsets of fashion exist. I just (continue to) balk at the idea that fashion as a hole is in need of defense because one guy on a blog somewhere asked a question about a particular aspect of the fashion world. Defense implies offense or attack. I don’t think fashion is any more under attack now then it ever has been.

        I think we need to clarify the difference between “explaining” and “defending”.Report

        • veronica d in reply to Kazzy says:

          @kazzy — I frequently encounter people who are dismissive of fashion, often in gendered ways. (I mean, why is dressing nice a sexuality, as in metro-sexual? That’s literally absurd, but it comes from a cultural place.)

          Even here the “$30 shirt versus $300 shirt” thing got passed around, as if it’s a normal thing. Plus there was all the normal talk of “signaling” and “designer labels.” It’s all kinda predictable.

          Look, these comment were made. Like, it actually happened. You were here, you didn’t notice?Report

          • Kazzy in reply to veronica d says:

            Well then everything is under attack always and must be defended.Report

          • Chris in reply to veronica d says:

            Even here the “$30 shirt versus $300 shirt” thing got passed around, as if it’s a normal thing.

            I believe that got passed around because it’s a Saul thing. You were here, you didn’t notice?Report

          • Kazzy in reply to veronica d says:


            To more seriously engage your point, I don’t doubt that there are people who are dismissive of fashion and that some of those people are downright ugly about it. What I’m pushing back against is the idea that people who enjoy fashion are “under attack” in some manner that requires a “defense” be written.

            I mean, show of hands… does anyone understand fashion forward people any better having read this piece than they did before? Has Saul shed any new light on the topic? “Defending” a dominant institution rarely bares fruit because most everyone has at least a passing understanding of it because it is dominant and pervasive. We know why Saul does what he does. We just choose another path and sometimes scratch our head at the path he chose. That is not an attack.Report

            • Chris in reply to Kazzy says:

              Class. Every time Saul writes this post, I see again that fashion is a class issue. And then I’m like, oh yeah, so are most things Saul talks about, and I click on a different tab.Report

            • veronica d in reply to Kazzy says:

              @kazzy — Are you going to make me write a defense of the right to write defenses?

              Who cares if it is a subject properly in need of a defense? — as if we’ll ever agree on that. It’s an interesting topic according to its own merits, at least to me, and I guess to you, insofar as you are paying attention to the conversation. Interesting should be enough to justify a blog post. If the OP wants to couch it as a “defense,” fine. What-evs.Report

              • This.

                Besides, @Kazzy concedes that there are people who casually or contemptuously dismiss fashion. That’s enough against which to “defend fashion” – as a realm of human concern worthy of time and attention.

                Maybe – maybe – “a defense” is a more dramatic term thanks needed here. (I would say it isn’t: my own stance toward fashion is certainly hostile, or at least dismissive enough enough that I would expect and accept defenses of it were I to plainly state my attitudes). But ultimately, what is that point? It’s a bit of petty word-picking. Jesus. Saul is writing about why he thinks fashion matters. Why get hung up on his using the term “defense” to describe the essay, which is merely a way to frame an argument that is common to the point of cliche?

                It couldn’t be because Kazzy has come, without apparent good reason, to take every other syllable out of Saul’s mouth intensely personally, could it?Report

              • …That’s not to say I find this a very effective defense of fashion, because it’s not. (Sorry, Saul.) Chris is right that it doesn’t deal with class, but that’s a function of really not dealing with fashion from any particularly substantive angle at all.

                But that doesn’t speak to whether it’s unwarranted to present a “defense” of fashion in the cliche way that Saul means here. I certainly think it’s reasonable.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to veronica d says:

        Hey, I would never argue that it was *ALWAYS* the case.

        I would, however, argue that someone who purchases a $300 shirt “because I look good in it” and someone who purchases a $30 shirt “because I look good in it” could very easily have two very different concepts of “the good” going on here and this goes double for cases when the discussion begins in “brand dilution” territory.Report

        • Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

          “These pants make my ass look good” versus “I’ll look like I belong” versus “Folks won’t think I live in the projects” versus “I’m just trying to fit in” versus…Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

            There are many, many different goods. I don’t want to say that one is better than another (I certainly don’t have where to stand to make any such claim) but I will say that given my background and given the backgrounds of most I know that there are some goods that one cannot announce a preference for in certain company and some goods for which one can announce a preference without thinking about one’s audience and, on a purely social level, that makes the latter a “better” good than the former.

            But I am also a fat schlubby guy who works in IT.Report

            • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

              It’s an interesting dynamic. The above critique only works for a person who “better” according to a single, externally determined, metric. If “highsocietyartchic” is the accepted axis, then even tho that person might be “better” than 99.44% of everyone else (…. a very looong nose ….), the people viewed as “better” are still on that axis. (Natch.) The problem for the single-axis cultural-value measurer arises, however, not so much from the existence of different cultural-value axes, but when those alternate axes attain a level of cultural cache that impinges on the preferred one. For example (apparently) the devaluation of prestige being accorded to apprecianados of high art and instead being heaped on geeks. If geeks just kept it to themselves and didn’t go all mainstream, the snoot woulda never turned to hostility.

              Course, that leaves out people who aren’t so materialistically inclined, but whatever. They’re the unspokenly apathetic silent majority.Report

            • Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

              Oh, I’m agreeing with you, @jaybird , in case that wasn’t clear. “Looking good” can mean a number of things. Attempting to arrive at objective definition is foolish.

              I work in the W. Village of Manhattan. And I travel nearly the entire length of the island, from the Bronx, through Washington Heights and Harlem, the UWS, and Midtown via subway. I see it ALL! And some stuff genuinely makes me go, “Huh?” I don’t get the reintroduction of rompers for women, something I stopped my son wearing when he was 1 because they look silly. But women seem to like them so go for it, ladies! I see daisy dukes on men. I see pants worn at the knees, seemingly designed for this. I see it all. And I don’t get most of it. But, thank goodness that exists! Life would suck if all I saw was one type of person.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

                Well, there’s also the issue about how fashion is primarily the domain of the young (and, presumably, beautiful).

                It is exceptionally easy for a 20-something to be hip.
                It requires effort for a 30-something to be hip (but not necessarily so much effort that you can tell that it requires effort).
                Once you get into your forties, as far as I can tell, the amount of effort that it requires to be hip is a noticeable amount of effort (which subtracts from the hipness quota).

                Well, for a very specific type of hipness, anyway. The enviable pop culture kind.

                (Of course, there are minor forms of hipness available within any small community (my beard, for example, is hip for a computer guy but “hip for a computer guy” is a phrase with baggage).)Report

              • Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

                Interestingly (and if someone were to provide an actual defense of fashion, this would probably be part of it), high fashion, where the artists of the industry are, or strive to be, isn’t about hipness, or even particularly hip (though almost preternaturally hip people, of all ages, are part its scene, though they are not the bulk of it). It does require a great deal of work to keep up with it, but that’s true at all ages, and even more so at young ages, because with experience comes wisdom.

                The models on the runway may all be in their late teens and 20s, but the scene runs from 16 to 96, and the major players, both as sellers and consumers l, are in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. Increasingly, people of color are getting in too.

                Some things are constant, though: beauty is the norm, though not the rule; wealth becomes a necessity if you want to buy anything, and if you want to be a major player in any role. And weight. While I gather there is more and more high fashion for plus sizes, the couture stuff is almost exclusively for women with stick figures.Report

              • Chris in reply to Chris says:

                This relates to the stuff that Saul buys, by the way, because the people and the looks begin there and filter their way into Saul’s income bracket, then eventually, perhaps, into the designs of the cheap throw-away clothes that hip people with service industry jobs can buy to wear to the club a time or two.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

                Oh, sorry, I was busy googling that shirt.

                There does seem to be a lot of filtering between that level up there and by the time it even makes its way into the shops that sell $300 shirts unironically, though.Report

              • Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

                But the fashion people, the people who are into the art, follow it even though they can’t buy it. You know how you and I might know about Picasso’s work, even though we’ll never, ever be able to buy a Picasso.

                R. is like this: she was just showing me the “September Issue,” of Vogue, which is so big that it comes in a box and looked, to me, like the old Sears catalogs from when I was a kid. She follows fashion, and fashion people, really closely. It’s work, but it’s less work for her now than it was when she was 17 and doing it, because she knows all the players really well and how everything works. But she’d need to take out a substantial loan to buy even one couture item.

                Now, R. does wear fashion, of all sorts (though she doesn’t own any $300 shirts), from hand-made to the throwaway versions of what was on the runway or in the September Issue., and a lot of stuff in between. She has no problem following the trends, because the trends are laid out in the same ways they’ve always been, for those who know how to look for them. I dunno if she’s hip, though.

                Also, she loves Shepler’s, and buys a lot of jeans there.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Chris says:


                There is an interesting scene in “Devil Wears Prada” where Not-Glenn-Close’s* character rants about how Mousy Brunette Girl’s** character may claim to be indifferent to fashion but in fact the only reason she’s wearing a particular shade of blue at the moment is because of what someone in the inner circle decided months earlier.

                * Don’t tell Russell I’m mixing these two actresses up again.
                ** I’m just bad at famous people.Report

              • Chris in reply to Kazzy says:

                Heh… That’s pretty close to my understanding of how it works, too.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Chris says:

                Meryl Steep!

                … Right?

                And I don’t think we can ignore the top tippy top. Doing so presumes free will.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

                Well, I wasn’t talking about the weird 1% of the 1% of the high fashion world. Mostly the stuff that trickles down to us lesser mortals and has us saying “Man, I *NEED* that shirt!”Report

              • veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

                I don’t think this is exactly true.

                I mean, look, I wish I was some young hottie with a young gal’s body. Believe me, when compare my skin to young-woman skin, I get really jealous and sad. So anyway, sure, youth is youth. I can’t pull off halter tops. I wear miniskirts — over tights. Blah, blah, blah.

                But there are plenty of really nice clothes for people our age. We cannot pull of some outfits, just as a matter of taste, but we can still do pretty well.

                I know plenty of 50-something women who can rock a tight little dress just fine. I know a number of “older gentlemen” who look damn good in a suit.

                I mean, they go for “dignified” rather than “stunning,” but whatever. We do what we can with what we’ve got.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to veronica d says:

                I mean, they go for “dignified” rather than “stunning,” but whatever. We do what we can with what we’ve got.

                If we’re allowed to go for “dignified”, then even I look damn good in a suit.

                If we’re allowed to go for “dignified”.Report

              • Kim in reply to Jaybird says:

                Dignified is good.
                Looking like a cheap thug is bad.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Jaybird says:

                When I was in my early 30’s & realized I was a victim of male pattern baldness, I looked at all the men who strived for dignity through toupee’s, combovers, implants, or who just gave up, and I said “Hell No!”.

                I shaved my damn head & started shopping for nice hats.

                Dignity is usually just figuring out what works with what you got & owning that shit, instead of trying for something you’ll never have without a Fairy Godmother.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Jaybird says:

                I’m still trying to work the long hair in. I still think I can look dignified in a suit.

                I have long hair out of a combination of laziness and hair that hates me. If it’s short, it sticks up in fifty three separate directions and requires a ridiculous amount of wrangling. If it’s long, it requires a…hair band.

                Probably not the best look for me, but whatever. It’s sufficient. 🙂Report

              • veronica d in reply to Morat20 says:

                I’m still trying to work the long hair in. I still think I can look dignified in a suit.

                Casual suit rock and roll guy is a good look for long haired fellas. Good fit. Elegant lines. No tie!

                Shoes are the challenge. Sneakers are just no, but posh dress shoes destroy the effect.Report

              • Kim in reply to veronica d says:

                Boots then, in black, perhaps?Report

              • veronica d in reply to Kim says:

                +1 boots.

                (I mean, yes to the boots. Not “hey these are really cool boots from my D&D campaign,” although actually that sounds fun!)Report

              • Kim in reply to veronica d says:

                So long as they aren’t 7league boots. Can you imagine how hard it would be to keep your footing like that? Not to mention all the people you’d scare out of their sneakers.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to veronica d says:

                yeah, I know what you mean. I’ve yet to find a product I’m happy with for keeping the stuff a little less…frizzy. I almost have a halo of shorter hairs around my head. Stuff escapes a hair band like you wouldn’t believe. (It’s the grey ones, in fact. They’re evil. And there’s a LOT of them).

                So I have thin, fine, straight hair. Heavily grey. That somehow manages to be frizzy looking. Stupid head.

                OTOH, I decided I to pierce my ears last weekend. (Earlobes). The initial studs are a nice silver-black that looks perfect. What has been shocking is that, aside from my wife, no one has noticed.. It’s a huge thing for me, but to everyone else it’s a tiny detail that nobody glances at anyways. Who looks at your ears?

                Not even my kid has noticed. We’ve a bet going on how many weeks before he realizes.Report

              • veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

                @jaybird — “If we’re allowed to go for ‘dignified’.”

                Is someone stopping you?

                I guess maybe it’s the IT thing. IT culture does seem strangely hostile to well dressed men, which seems unfortunate. Which actually supports Saul’s point. Men who want to aim for cool fashion are stigmatized in such places. I mean, they’re actively looked down upon. Which is silly.

                A lot of IT guys play it off, like, “We don’t care about clothes,” but actually they care about clothes a lot. They just have an unusual range of what is allowed.Report

              • Chris in reply to veronica d says:

                It is a shame that they are stigmatized in IT spaces. I wonder which group is stigmatized in more spaces, though.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

                Sub-cultures within sub-cultures within sub-cultures.

                And little hierarchies get created and people will do what they can to achieve the highest levels of Maslow’s hierarchy within the sub-culture.

                And something that works really, really well in a place where X is a virtue and Y is a vice will crash and burn in a place where X is a vice and Y is a virtue.

                And people will find themselves self-sorting into places where their virtues are recognized and their vices are easily hid.Report

              • Kim in reply to veronica d says:

                Oh, there’s plenty folks can do with a decent collared shirt and an eye for color.
                Both in terms of looking sharp, and looking good.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to veronica d says:

                Maribou (not the real Maribou, the one in my head) is telling me that I am being a clod and I am not having merely the conversation that I think I am having, but another conversation at the same time.

                I’m normally better at noticing that.

                As such, I’d like to apologize for anything untoward I’ve said.Report

              • IT culture does seem strangely hostile to well dressed men

                I think it was originally a form of boasting: “I’m so good they have to let me dress like this.” Which is no longer true, because they let everyone dress like that now. But it’s the moral equivalent of pilots talking like Check Yeager.Report

              • Kim in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                I think it was more a “I could change a vacuum tube if needed” and then got to be a bit more.Report

            • Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

              “I like these pants. They make my you know what look big.”Report

  10. Chris says:

    R. was just telling me last night that the women on some show she was watching were wearing couture, and that meant “off the runway, not off the rack,” so $25-30k instead of $4-5k. Looks like you’re undershooting.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Chris says:

      A good bespoke suit from a London tailor probably costs about 4-5K at least.Report

      • dragonfrog in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        It’s kind of mind blowing to me that flying to Vietnam for lunch and a suit of clothes can be a good budget option, even including your own hours as worth money.Report

        • Saul Degraw in reply to dragonfrog says:

          There is also that option. Vietnam and India have a lot of old-school tailors who learned in a way that is largely dying in the West.Report

        • LeeEsq in reply to dragonfrog says:

          I got a good bespoke suit in India for around $550. If I got the same suit in the United States, it would be at least triple the price. The only reason why the suit was cheaper in India is because labor is a lot cheaper in India and I guess becoming a traditional style tailor is still a viable career option. I’m not even sure how a kid in North America or Europe would go about learning how to be a tailor, dress maker, or cobbler.Report

  11. LWA says:

    People who cross boundaries are the ones who spend the most time pondering them, what they mean, why they should or should not exist and how to view them.

    For whatever reason, I value the power of aesthetics. I think there is more to fashion than “mere” signaling. I think there is a deeper aspect to the design of clothing, the way is accentuates or hides our biological form, the way colors and fabrics do this or that to our skin and hair.

    Mrs. LWA and I both are by demeanor shy wallflowers, but dress in odd eclectic styles that invariably cause us to stand out. She favors 1950’s dresses, I wear as Steampunk attire as I can get away with at work.

    Clothing affects how we see ourselves, allowing us to be the persona we desire to be.Report

    • Tod Kelly in reply to LWA says:

      @lwa “She favors 1950’s dresses, I wear as Steampunk attire as I can get away with at work.”

      I cannot for the life of me explain why reading this about you and your wife makes me so very happy. But it truly does.Report

  12. Oscar Gordon says:

    The “rugged guy who doesn’t care about clothes” is a cultural marker just the same as “worldly man who buys the best.”

    Thing is, there is a good chance that rugged guy actually does care about clothes, just probably not the clothes you’d find on display at Fashion Week. Places like REI have quite a lot of very expensive clothing. Or the guy who spends $300 on a UtiliKilt and another $150 on the “Tactical Vest”, he still cares about clothing, but from a whole different direction.

    Overall, as I stated above, the objection I have is to paying a premium for something just for the branding. If I spend $300 on shoes that are comfortable & they last 10 years with minimal upkeep, that is more valuable than spending $30 on a cheap pair of shoes every year (once I factor in the time it takes to shop for a new pair, the waste, etc.). Same goes for a pair of pants, or a suit, or shirt.

    I also have to keep in mind how I wear clothes & how they fit. When it comes to daily wear, I’m hard on them. If I’m going to pay a premium, they need to be very rugged &/or stain resistant. If it isn’t, then it had better be formal wear (i.e. the tailored suit I have for job interviews, weddings, & funerals). Also, fit. One of the best things to ever happen to men’s pants is the comfort waist on trousers & slacks. I’ll pay extra for a pair with that feature. Not everyone gets to enjoy a physique that fluctuates by mere millimeters over the course of the day, or a business lunch or dinner. And pants that are normally one size too big fit like crap, even with a belt.

    Speaking of physique, if you aren’t blessed with very slender build, there is a lot of brands/fashions you never get to enjoy. One of the reasons I stopped buying denim jeans is because the ones that looked good won’t fit me well (usually way too tight in the thighs), and the ones that fit, fit like a bag.Report

    • veronica d in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      @oscar-gordon — Agreed. And for the record, I totally support folks who make different choices than I make. You gotta make your own life work. You pick the clothes for the job.

      One of the great things about being a gal is skinny jeans. No seriously, skinny jeans fucking rock. Actually, modern skinny jeans are made from stretchy-not-really-denim, often similar to leggings but “jeans-looking. Anyway, they fit like a dream, look mad sexy in the ass department, and are darn comfortable — if you’re otherwise comfortable with leggings/tights. So yeah. Let us sing the praises of skinny jeans.

      You guys should work to make skinny jeans acceptable for men.

      Free advice!

      Utilikilts are adorable. I work in tech, so needless to say I know a ton of men who like utilikilts. Sadly, they seem (to be regarded as) unacceptable at work — by some cryptic standard that nevertheless accepts cargo shorts and tattered tees. Like, computer dude fashion is pretty mysterious to me.

      I think men who want to wear utilikilts should feel encouraged to wear utilikilts. Cargo shorts get boring after a while.

      I’m glad I’m a woman.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to veronica d says:

        My wife has those, I think they are great for her. I can’t wear leggings (they itch), but a nice pair of jeans made of that stretchy denim would be nice.

        I realize I forgot to finish my point above. Going back to the shoes, if I spend $300 on a pair of shoes, and they can’t handle even mild abuse, I paid too much, especially since I know I can get good looking, durable, comfortable, water-proof shoes that will last for years for $300 or less. They won’t be high end designer, but they will be good shoes.Report

        • veronica d in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          @oscar-gordon — Right. I mean, we all want our shoes to last. But note, the high end shoes tend to be pretty well made, although it would be foolish to wear them to a job site, since they aren’t meant for that kind of wear and tear.

          My ex-wife wears some pretty high end Italian stuff, Manolos and Prada and so on. Mostly she gets them second hand on Ebay. Those fuckers tend to last forever, if you take care of the leather.Report

        • Saul Degraw in reply to Oscar Gordon says:


          A lot of modern jeans will often be made with 2-3 percent elastic material for the stretch.Report

      • dragonfrog in reply to veronica d says:

        And so thank you to fixie riding hipsters who must wear skinny jeans for safety, and all the other hipsters whose bikes have freewheels but wear skinny jeans anyway because they don’t get chain grease on them.

        Thanks to them I can sometimes find pants that look good on my skinny butt.Report

      • Kim in reply to veronica d says:

        Free advice to guys:
        Buy pants with crotch gussetting…Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      @Oscar Gordon

      Concurred. They actually did this a lot on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. They got some outdoorsy guys and took him to not quite an REI store but something similar.

      The issue that lots of people seem to be ignoring is aesthetics. I am willing to pay for things if they look interesting to me. Jaybird might call this being like a peacock but whatever.

      The assumption seems to be that a person buying an expensive brand is only doing so because it is a name and they can say “I own Paul Smith” or “I own something from Dries Van Noten” or “I own something from Maison Martin Margiella.” This could be true but not necessarily so. I like Paul Smith shoes because of their aesthetics and yes people notice them and there is an ego boost in the compliment.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        “The assumption seems to be that a person buying an expensive brand is only doing so because it is a name and they can say “I own Paul Smith” or “I own something from Dries Van Noten” or “I own something from Maison Martin Margiella.””

        No. It isn’t an assumption. Some people DO do that and some of us are critical of those people. But we aren’t extrapolating that to everyone who owns those brands. Just the people who seem to explicitly pay for brand recognition. I mean, did you read Oscar’s comment? “Overall, as I stated above, the objection I have is to paying a premium for something just for the branding.” He doesn’t object to paying more for something. He simply objects in those cases where the person is paying solely for the branding. You don’t have to agree with that, obviously. But you shouldn’t take people who make very carefully considered statements and spin them into a broad, assumption based attack. Show me anyone who has argued that ALL money spent on expensive brands is solely about branding?Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        I regret the heteronormativity on display in my example but I was trying to describe a particular motivation and behavior and that one did the best job in the fewest words on the shortest notice.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Oscar Gordon says:


      I am 5’6″ and pretty stocky. I agree that there is a lot of fashion companies that exclusively market and make stuff for guys who are tall and slender but there is plenty of stuff out there for all body types.

      I buy jeans in a straight fit or slouchy fit, most jean companies have styles in these fits. Billy Reid could be a good brand for you. So can RRL and Grown and Sewn.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        I have no clue what those brands are or where I would have to go to find them (although I’m sure The Google could help with that).

        Ok, so I Googled, and at those prices, I’d never wear them. Not that I couldn’t afford them, but see my note above about being hard on clothes. For daily wear, one of my considerations is that I stand a non-zero chance every day of ruining whatever it is I’m wearing. It get’s stained, or I catch it on something sharp & rip it, or something else happens. I’ll spend money on a suit or sportcoat because suits are worn infrequently, and a sportcoat can be removed quickly to avoid getting ruined.

        Thus, I try to keep myself to items that are sub-$100 for daily wear, or, if it costs more than that, it’s got a durability & stain resistance I can trust.Report

      • Morat20 in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Huh. You should see the hassle I go through to get jeans that fit. I’m weirdly proportioned, and to get them to fit properly around the legs requires me to go larger on the waist than I need (and that IS with relaxed fit jeans!).

        Just the way I’m built — it looks like all I ever did was leg day. 🙂

        Finally ended up with a decent brand, can even order them from Amazon. Long-lasting, look decent, fit well (need a belt, obviously), pretty rugged.Report

        • Oscar Gordon in reply to Morat20 says:

          Please share, because I have the same problem. If they fit in the waist, they squeeze my thighs & there is no room in the crotch. If I have room in the crotch and they are free in the leg, then they fit like a bag.

          Which is annoying as hell, because I have plenty of slacks that fit perfectly, so I’m at a loss as to why I can not find a pair of jeans that way.Report

          • Morat20 in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

            I tend to use Cinch . You can probably find a store that carries them around you, so you can try them on. I only order them online because I already know the size and style I want. (The Green label stuff is a really relaxed fit).

            Cinch in general makes fairly tough, hard wearing jeans, and the price is quite reasonable.Report

        • Chris in reply to Morat20 says:

          This is not an uncommon type of problem, especially for women, and especially for women who aren’t built like… well, let’s just say a particular demographic… tend to be built. For a long time, a lot of fashion was basically off limits for women who weren’t built like… a particular demographic tends to be, though that’s changing, particularly as more people who aren’t part of that demographic get into fashion on the design end.Report

          • aarondavid in reply to Chris says:

            Its also changing due to many off-brand designers and big box stores realizing how much money was being left on the table by not carrying cloths for people of all sizes. Thus the fashion world responded. Ah, commerce.Report

            • Chris in reply to aarondavid says:

              For sure. And it’s not just sizes, it’s shapes. I know women (I won’t name names!) who have to buy jeans a few waist sizes too big because their hips and/or butts are too big. In other words, they have curves, and much of both mainstream and high fashion has been designed for women who could be realistically portrayed by a broom.Report

              • Glyph in reply to Chris says:

                I hear this complaint a lot, and I have to admit, something doesn’t totally make sense to me.

                Conceded, immediately, that the average model isn’t shaped like the average woman, and everyone would be a bit better off if they were.

                Still, if the clothes don’t fit, in general they won’t sell. I would think that there is an economic incentive for a manufacturer to sell as many clothes as possible – so why wouldn’t they actually *manufacture* the clothes in realistic measurement ranges, regardless of the measurements of the garments and models on the catwalks?Report

              • Chris in reply to Glyph says:

                You and I might not think it makes sense, but if you go to a lot of the middle-of-the-road fashion stores, you’ll find that the only people in there are white and East Asian women ranging from size 0 to size 2 (which means mostly white women from 16 to 25, if that old). And those are the only people those clothes fit. And they make plenty of money anyway.

                R. might go to one of those stores for a sweater, say, or accessories, but she can’t wear any of the pants or dresses.Report

              • Glyph in reply to Chris says:

                So that brings us back to the whole “branding/class” thing then, right?

                I mean, a high-end two-seater sports car doesn’t “fit” my lifestyle (or my wallet, or truth be told, probably my ass into its bucket seats), but it fits *somebody’s* and makes money; and I can always buy a Honda minivan instead, right? Expensive car makers and high-end fashion labels want their brands to be associated with fit, expensive people. Not with me.

                Presumably, there are lots and lots of stores that cater to more average-shaped people, but that’s your Wal-Marts and Targets and such.

                And ’twas ever thus, right?Report

              • Chris in reply to Glyph says:

                I assume it was, and Target, to its credit, has been trying to get into the fashion game and making it more universal, even partnering with famous mostly couture designers on limited collections (which produce Black Friday-like rushes at the stores and online).

                But for the most part, even today “fashion” means thin, not-curvy, white or East Asian, and young, with money. This is less true for men, though men’s fashion, at least with the sizes. The money thing is definitely still true.Report

              • gingergene in reply to Glyph says:

                The reason is that they aim for the middle, and everyone else just works around it. You only have to stock one version of each item in S, M, & L. Keeps the inventory down. If you’re making clothes for the tails of the distribution, you have to charge more because now you need 3 sizes in 3 or more fits. (“Regular”, Long, Petite, Curvy or whatever.)

                It was conventional wisdom that people wouldn’t pay for the customization, and it’s only recently that stores have started figuring out that the CW was wrong, and those “tails” *will* pay more to get clothes that fit right. (A lot of those tails were already paying more, because they bought clothes and then had them tailored. This allows them to skip a step!)

                You’re right, that should have been obvious, but for some reason it wasn’t. My theory (obviously shared with some others here) is that it was in part due to the taste makers not looking like that and/or not wanting other people to look like that.Report

              • Glyph in reply to gingergene says:

                No, I understand that – but the whole reason they are called “tails” is because they are rare birds.

                To hear people talk about this topic, you’d think EVERYBODY is a “tail”. That doesn’t make statistical or economic sense, so something is missing from the analysis.Report

              • veronica d in reply to Glyph says:

                It’s almost as if market economics doesn’t fine the absolute optimum, but that cannot be true, since by definition wherever the market arrives is exactly the best place…

                And then there is that “one’s modus ponens is another’s modus tollens” thing. Or something.

                Anyway, I know I’m an outlier, being 6 feet tall, but 6-foot women exist, and a lot of women don’t fit the “fashion mold.” Anyway, it does feel like there is some market failure here.

                You know, if you believe market failure is even possible.Report

              • Glyph in reply to veronica d says:

                @veronica-d – please don’t take this the wrong way – many people claim to be a “special snowflake” but only some actually ARE, and you are one of them, right?

                Like, you are living proof that people don’t always fit neatly or permanently into the several big boxes that most people fall into.

                It’s not meant as an insult, to say that you are an outlier on more than one distribution – not just because you’re a big gal, but because you’ve got a big math brain, etc.

                You just aren’t the average bear; so I don’t expect your struggles to be the same as the average bear’s struggles.

                Yet I seem to keep hearing that the “average bear” is having trouble finding clothes, and as I state in my comment at 3:03, THAT is what doesn’t compute for me.Report

              • veronica d in reply to Glyph says:

                @glyph — No offense, I get what you are saying.

                But I’m talking about stuff like lavender floral shorts, not “cute fitted tee shirts with math equations on them“.

                I mean, I’m large, but I’m not unearthly. I’m a size 18. That’s big, but I should be able to find cute shorts.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to veronica d says:

                The general belief seems to be that if you’re larger than, oh, a size eight you should be wearing a burlap sack of shame. A tent, in fact, to hide your body from the public’s eyes.

                My wife is quite fond of Torrid, which does not feel this way. (The fact that they often have rockabilly style stuff as well does not hurt her love for them.)Report

              • veronica d in reply to Morat20 says:

                Torrid is really, really, really great.

                But they’re small and they only carry so much. For example, here is what they have right now in shorts:


                It’s a cute enough selection, but I’d hardly call that varied. (Although I kinda like the pink short. Maybe I’ll get a pair.)

                I buy a lot of skirts from them. Today, here are my choices:


                Which actually, there’s some pretty nice stuff there right now, particularly that blue floral number. (I actually plan to visit a meatspace Torrid this weekend. I’ll see what’s in stock and do some trying-on.)

                The point is, they have some cool stuff, but it’s still a pretty limited range. It’s not the same as “broadly available styles.”Report

              • Morat20 in reply to veronica d says:

                I wouldn’t call it super varied either, but they at least have something — and it’s at least made with an eye that bigger girls would like to look nice and fashionable too.

                The men’s big and tall sections aren’t that much better — it’s just that men’s fashion is so much smaller.Report

              • Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

                Put another way, I used to have trouble getting shoes that fit me right, because I had narrow feet (as I’ve gotten older/heavier and wear shoes less-frequently, this is less true than it once was).

                But the problem wasn’t that shoemakers were designing shoes for a mostly-mythical genetic-freak wide-footed person on a catwalk somewhere; the problem was that I myself was a member of a narrow-footed minority, and that minority was somewhat underserved, due to the expected economic incentives.

                I realize women’s bodies curve on more dimensions (so there’s probably more variation), but I often hear that *the majority* is not being well-served by clothing, and that just seems weird. “The majority” is where the most money can be made, so all else equal I’d expect plenty of manufacturers to shoot for it.

                I’m not expressing confusion at true outliers (the very tall, the morbidly-obese, unusual dimensions of any kind, etc.) having trouble finding fashion that fits; I’m having trouble understanding how the “Real Women Have Curves” crowd (who, to be clear, I assume to be in the majority) are having trouble.Report

              • Chris in reply to Glyph says:

                I agree with most of what you say, but it’s worth noting that like Porsche, many designers and sellers aim for a certain degree of exclusivity, exclusivity that drives further sales (and prices!). Plus, if only traditionally good looking (or at least traditionally good bodied) people wear your clothes, your clothes look good: everyone who wears them is like a walking advertisement for your clothes. It’s what people will then strive for, and when they get the money and they body, they’ll buy them for prices that make no sense otherwise. And you’ll make a ton of money even though most people can’t wear or afford your clothes.

                Where a problem arises, of course, is that this is precisely the sort of mechanism by which certain class, race, and gender norms are perpetuated.Report

              • Glyph in reply to Chris says:

                But I can’t really realistically complain “why oh why isn’t there a Porsche for ME?!”

                I mean, I CAN, but that’d be ridiculous. That brand isn’t aimed at me, and it doesn’t suit (heh) me, and there are plenty of non-Porsche options that will do me just fine.

                The solution isn’t really to somehow try to get the market to make a Porsche for me; the solution is for people to stop giving a s**t about whether a car is a Porsche or not, when evaluating its driver’s worth as a person.Report

              • Chris in reply to Glyph says:

                Well, Porsche contributes to society’s ills in its own way, but unlike fashion, it doesn’t perpetuate some pretty strong and exclusive norms related to beauty and self-image. Fashion frequently does, particularly when it’s exclusive based on such images. It’d be reasonable for you to be mad at company that helps to perpetuate beauty norms that exclude you because you’re not white or not blonde or you have hips or an ass or whatever.

                You don’t drive a Porsche because it doesn’t fit your lifestyle or your budget. You can’t wear couture-inspired off-the-rack fashion because it doesn’t fit your body or your budget. That’s where the analogy between the two falls apart.Report

              • aarondavid in reply to Chris says:

                Worth noting here also, companies like Porsche and Ferrari started out making just race cars (couture) with street cars as just a way to make cash for the racing (off the rack.) People bought the street cars to give others the idea that the were “racy” (very few were James Dean like in that they actually raced the cars.)Report

              • Kolohe in reply to aarondavid says:

                Porche (the dude) started in the vehicle biz by making Volkswagens and Nazi tanks.Report

              • Glyph in reply to Kolohe says:

                True, which means I HAVE driven a “Porsche”.

                What, you guys never had a Nazi tank in high school?Report

              • Chris in reply to Glyph says:

                The Porsche Panzer IV Turbo.Report

              • aarondavid in reply to Kolohe says:

                True, what I am referring to is Porsche the car company and the original 356 (pre)A. For the company did start as a engineering consultancy, doing much of the work on the KDf wagon (helped by a Czech company named TATRA) and even designing heavy vehicles. Ferdinand was awaiting trial for possible war crimes (innocent) and his son Ferry started making a car to race with on his own.Report

              • Kim in reply to Glyph says:

                Fashion is about making people look good, not about making clothes that are actually wearable.

                Movie Stars are an exception, because they must be able to act while wearing “looking good” clothing. So they get it custom.Report

              • Michael Cain in reply to Kim says:

                Drawing on my career(s), dressing — as distinct from fashion — is mostly about making the other people comfortable. I did technology demonstrations off and on for years, and how to dress was always on my check-off list. The Mayo Clinic board of directors got full suit and tie; stock analysts got slacks and dress shirt; university profs got my standard jeans and a less-dressy button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up. They all fit, and (perhaps most) importantly, I was comfortable wearing any of them.

                Although I have to admit that the most respectful hearing I ever got from a room full of suits was on a Monday after a combination of a weekend skiing trip and hideous weather on the return drive meant I made an unscheduled presentation in a flannel shirt and three days worth of beard. I always figured it was so bad the suits thought, “If the Labs management is willing to let him present looking like that, he must be really good.”Report

              • gingergene in reply to Glyph says:

                What I would say, drawing from a deep pool of anecdata:

                (1) The fashion industry is not very in tune with the real location of the distribution mean.

                (2) Few people are “average” all in all aspects. One person can wear “average” tops but not pants; next person over is the opposite. So a person who is ± 1 SD from average in (a) pants (b) tops (c) skirts (d) dresses (e) shoes, etc. etc. is rarer than you might think. All those people who aren’t averagely average are going to nod along when someone says, “I have trouble finding tops that fits me right.”, even if their problem is with pants.

                ETA: In summary: most people are “tails” in at least one aspect, which is probably why you hear so much about it.Report

              • Kim in reply to gingergene says:

                MOST people are tails because people in fashion are idiots who don’t bother to actually study humans.

                IF someone bothered to create sizes that fit actual human bodytypes, they’d need half the number of sizes, and you’d fit at least 80% of people into them easy enough.Report

              • Glyph in reply to gingergene says:

                ETA: In summary: most people are “tails” in at least one aspect, which is probably why you hear so much about it.

                This is a good observation.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Glyph says:

                You know that joke where a woman undergoes all sorts of contortions in order to squeeze herself into a pair of jeans that obviously don’t fit?

                You know how it’s funny because there is more than a grain of truth to it?

                My wife is curvy. She is always annoyed at how much effort she has to put in to finding something that fits & looks good.Report

              • Troublesome Frog in reply to Chris says:

                It doesn’t help that men get pants with two sizing numbers (waist and inseam–typically in inches*) and women, who are more geometrically complex, get pants with one number. Worse, that number is some nebulous unitless value that varies wildly from style to style and manufacturer to manufacturer. When your sizing system could easily be replaced using emojis, you have a problem right at the start.

                * Apparently the trend toward “vanity sizing” has infiltrated men’s clothing as well, and you can no longer count a 34 inch waist to actually measure 34 inches. When I am declared absolute dictator of the world, the person who came up with this idea will be boiled in oil. Twice.Report

              • My wife buys men’s jeans for this reason.Report

              • veronica d in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

                What most women don’t understand is our clothes sizing is based on certain rather obscure passages from the Necronomicon, and once you find, read, and decipher those, it all falls into place.

                I’m a size 34882983883-arrggggg!!!-the-three-lobed-eye!

                It all makes perfect sense.Report

              • Chris in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

                This has produced many a mistake on my part when buying Christmas/birthday/whenever gifts.

                “Hey, I thought you’d really like this dress.”

                “I do, but it’s not my size.”

                “Wait, you told me you were a size _.”

                “That’s for _____. For dresses from that store, I’m a _.”

                [Head explodes.]Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Chris says:

                Gift cards. I don’t even try to buy clothes for my wife. I just know which stores she favors.

                On the other hand, the first person to make a really good 3-D printer/automated sewing machine for cloth is going to make freakin’ bank.

                Feed it cloth, thread, measurements and patterns. Let it tailor any outfit right for you.

                The stampede of people rushing to buy that…..Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Morat20 says:

                If it includes a laser scanner for getting the measurements right…Report

              • Chris in reply to Morat20 says:

                Man, I was in a sewing store a few weeks ago, and the shit those machines can do now: you can design something, including the measurements, on a computer, put it on a flash drive, and plug it into one of those things, and it will do the pattern for you.

                I was walking along a row of machines that are that heavily computerized, when I saw a price tag of $4,500 or thereabouts. I thought to myself, “Yeah, I guess that sounds about right.” Then my Dad, who was with me at the time, pointed out that the price tag for the desk, not the machine, which itself costs as much as a new car.Report

              • aarondavid in reply to Chris says:

                I just buy books and flowers at this point @chrisReport

              • dragonfrog in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

                Partly the thing with men’s pants is that the waistband doesn’t go at the waist anymore, but often barely above the hips. And as high-waisted pants have slipped from ‘fashionable’ to ‘dad pants’ to ‘grandad pants’, and the position of the waistband on ‘fashionable’ pants has sunk, the degree of guesswork has grown.

                A pair of supposedly 32″ waist pants is still supposed to fit someone with a 32″ waist – just nowadays, they’re supposed to fit a couple inches below the waist, where the wearer is generally larger by some amount, depending on their waist-hip ratio – at which the maker can only guess.

                At least, that’s the theory – there is probably also some degree of vanity sizing going on. I know there are a few brands of pants where my usual reference size will be either way too tight or way too loose on me.Report

            • veronica d in reply to aarondavid says:

              True. Even Saks now has plus-sized for women.

              Of course, they don’t carry it in their Boston store, only their way-out-in-the-burbs store. But still. It exists, and one gets bored with Macy’s Nordstrom.

              That said, our selection remains wildly limited, and I think this hits women worse than men. After all, men’s fashion lives in a pretty narrow range compared to women’s fashion —

              — although I’d love to see men have more choices and so on, but still. If you’re a “dude in the city” trying to look cool, their are a few standard patterns to follow. Women are expected (and allowed!) to branch out into all kinds of fun spaces.

              Yay women’s fashion.

              Anyway, point is, if I see a really lovely pair of lavender floral shorts that would just be BOMB on me, well too fucking bad, cuz no one makes anything like them in my size.

              I mean, I look around a lot. Cool-fun-floral shorts just don’t exist in my size, not in the styles I wear.

              I mean, sometimes I get lucky. It happens. But usually not.

              Skinny women -> tons of choices. See a cool outfit, good chance you can assemble a similar outfit with one trip to the mall

              Big women -> few choices, many selected to suit older women. See a cool outfit, too fucking bad. Nothing like that for you.

              It’s irritating. Like, I get really upset browsing stores, cuz I see shit I want, but never in my size.Report

        • El Muneco in reply to Morat20 says:

          Same here – I’ve had the same waist and inseam my entire adult life, but when I was playing rec league baseball, I had 25 pounds more muscle than I do now that my vermicelli-textured elbow has ruled that out in favor of soccer.

          These days, I can just about fit into a slim fit jean without too much discomfort, but I figure my thighs are 1-2 inches less in circumference than back in the day, when it was ridiculous even to try.Report

          • Burt Likko in reply to El Muneco says:

            Fortunately for me, I’ve been enjoying a downward trend in my waist size for the past couple of months, thanks to a process of lifestyle modifications. My pants are all pretty big on me right now; I can hold my entire hand perpendicular to my hip without stretching the material.

            Which is something of a brag. It also means I get to think about what kind of clothing I want to acquire in a few months as I continue to alter my body’s shape. Right now, I’m fearful of regressing back to my very-overweight self, especially with the holidays around the corner, and I am at a point I need to start being more serious about weights and strength lest my weight loss plateau out with loss of muscle mass rather than the unsightly fat.

            (‘Twas your comment about a diminishing thigh circumference that reminded me of this.)

            So I may need to start paying attention to my clothing in a way I’ve been able to get away with not for quite some time — for work in the past, I’ve been able to get away with rotating four or five “traditional” cut suits, usually darker in color, and ten to twelve dress shirts in various shades of white and blue. That works for the “big” man in a professional job and decent enough cuts can at least partially flatter the avocado-like frame of a seriously-out-of-shape lawyer.

            As I slowly become a somewhat-less-big guy, I have to contemplate lighter colors (olive and pale gray!) for my suits, and slimmer cuts on both formal and casual clothing, and I see that there are a lot more fashion options available. It’s actually a bit overwhelming to flip through men’s magazines and see what’s out there — how much it costs, how different pieces look together, and sadly, the immensely additional amount of weight I’m going to have to lose before I look anything like those models.Report

  13. El Muneco says:

    Troublesome Frog:
    * Apparently the trend toward “vanity sizing” has infiltrated men’s clothing as well, and you can no longer count a 34 inch waist to actually measure 34 inches.When I am declared absolute dictator of the world, the person who came up with this idea will be boiled in oil.Twice.

    It has hit “functional” gear as well. As someone who plays an outdoor sport year-round in the PNW, the most valuable development in sports science IMO over the past 20 years is the single-layer cold gear underclothing that doesn’t get heavier or stop providing warmth when it gets wet. This is gear that is not fashionable at all (it’s underclothing, for Set’s sake), and is explicitly targeted at active people.

    From one year to the next, a “Men’s Small” got basically two sizes larger – instead of being essentially skintight on me, the newer shirt has drape (not much, but it’s visible). I’m comfortable wearing the newer one as an outer garment. As an undergarment, I now look for their “Youth Large” size…Report