September 1, 2007

"Fashion is bourgeois, girly, unfeminist, conformist, elitist, frivolous, anti-intellectual..."

Unless it's not:
Particularly in academia, where bodies are just carts for hauling around brains, the thrill and social play and complex masquerade of fashion is “very much denigrated,” [said Elaine Showalter, the feminist literary critic and a professor emeritus at Princeton.]. “The academic uniform has some variations,” she said, “but basically is intended to make you look like you’re not paying attention to fashion, and not vain, and not interested in it, God forbid."
But let's get to the meat of this article, written by Guy Trebay for the NYT, the part about Hillary:
[F]ashion is ... often used as a weapon, a club wielded by those who forget that we are saying something about ourselves every time we get dressed — not infrequently things that fail to convey the whole truth.

Why else was Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign moved to attack the fashion critic of The Washington Post for attempting to read the candidate’s clothes? The editorial blitz that followed Senator Clinton’s outraged response to some blameless observations about a slight show of cleavage on the Senate floor was instructive, as was Mrs. Clinton’s summoning up of feminist cant about the sexism of focusing on what a woman wears to the exclusion of her ideas.
For some reason, Trebay declines to name the WaPo fashion critic. (Jealous?) Anyway, of course, it's Robin Givhan. (Here's the Bloggingheads segment where I talk with Robin about the Hillary cleavage to-do.) Back to Trebay:
But clothes are ideas; to use a fashionism — Hello! Scholars like the art historian Anne Hollander have spent decades laying out the way that costume serves to billboard the self. One would have thought that few people understand this truth as well as the woman occasionally known as Hairband Hillary, who, after all, assiduously recast her image from that of demure and wifely second-banana to power-suited policy wonk, dressed to go forth and lead the free world.
Well, of course she knows, which is why her campaign mobilized against Givhan. (More Bloggingheads about that, if you're up for it.)


Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christy said...

I remember as a kid trying to get more money out of the parents using Jackie Kennedy's budget for gloves as an example of how woefully inadequate my own clothing allowance was. Didn't work.

Of course clothes are frivolous, but not, I maintain, when one is buying them or when one is getting dressed.

Bruce Hayden said...

The reason that the Hillary thing is so humorous is that she almost assuredly has professional advise as to her dress. I wouldn't even be surprised if there was some focus group stuff going on too. Of all the candidates, she is likely the most calculated as to her dress (though I suspect most, if not all, of the major candidates do have poeple putting a lot of thought in their dress).

rhhardin said...

I take it that Bermudas are okay again.

Joan said...

When Tim Gunn says you need a makeover, best sit up and take notice.

vnjagvet said...

The notion that Hillary! does anything spontaneously is absurd.

Being calculating is both her greatest strength and her greatest weakness.

If you want calculating, careful and controlling, vote for Hillary!

Her wardrobe choices are just more evidence of these qualities.