December 24, 2010

"Washington's currency is power, and fashion helps to bring order to the power structure."

"Clothes provide the first hint of how we relate to one another and how seriously we should be taken. (Remember that, dear interns in your flip-flops and miniskirts.) Gentlemen may pull on a bespoke suit or rebel against that brand of traditionalism with rumpled jeans and T-shirts. Power is now a woman in a sleek sheath, not one in a frumpy suit and a pair of commuter sneakers."

Robin Givhan opines on fashion and Washington as she steps away from her fashion beat at the Washington Post (and into the more stylish Daily Beast). She thanks the Post and pleads for the importance of fashion writing — "fashion [can] provide a window on who we are... amid the frippery and parties, fashion is also business, politics, religion, sociology and ultimately, life." And she links to a few choice old items, going back as far as 1998 — I wish I were blogging then! — to a thing about Paula Jones:
She has smoothed the frizzy mane of curls that once reached to such dazzling heights. Her makeup is now subtle and based on natural, not neon, hues. Her clothing is inspired by the boardroom instead of the secretarial pool. She has embraced the markers of dignity, refinement and power.
So... the frumpy suit and not the sleek sheath? Funny how these "markers" get switched around, isn't it?
"I had been very aware of the horrible things the White House was saying about her. The main thing we looked at was what could we do to do away with all those things," says her California-based spokeswoman, Susan Carpenter-McMillan.

"She is not white trash," she says. "She is not a big-haired floozy."
Whatever the woman is, she needs to be the opposite. Do you have big hair and they're calling you a white-trash floozy? Get small hair! Wouldn't it be funny if men under attack made their big hair small or their small hair big and changed from — what would it be? — a conservative suit to a less conservative suit or a less conservative suit to a more conservative suit? Bill Clinton didn't alter his appearance when he got into trouble. (But see Al Gore.)

32 comments:

Pogo said...

"Clothes provide the first hint of how we relate to one another and how seriously we should be taken."

Is this a revelation to anyone over 25 years old?

We all wear uniforms, and many of us remain irritated by the fight between individualism and belonging.

The adults find the whole thing fairly minor, a necessary evil which, tweaked here and there, provides a little fun in life. But it's little more than that.

My favorites are teenagers, pop stars, and Hollywood types, who wear their uniforms to emphasize their uniqueness.

rhhardin said...

Washington's currency is currency.

rhhardin said...

Shorts and crocs signify dog ownership.

AllenS said...

Washington's currency is money that used to belong to you.

The Crack Emcee said...

Ann,

Wouldn't it be funny if men under attack made their big hair small or their small hair big and changed from — what would it be? — a conservative suit to a less conservative suit or a less conservative suit to a more conservative suit? Bill Clinton didn't alter his appearance when he got into trouble.

Two things:

1) Men who are fruits do think of changing their appearance when under attack.

2) As history shows, Bill Clinton never "got into trouble" because of "the horrible things the White House was saying" about Paula Jones. It's always been women who were in trouble, and it was the way other women addressed the situation - including Hillary Clinton - that put Bill's accusers in trouble from the start. Shameful.

America's Politico said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Conservatives 4 Better Dental Hygiene said...

Would this be a good thread for proposing that an office called "Leader of Entire World" be created and that Sarah Palin be inducted into it?

Anne B. said...

``Wouldn't it be funny if men under attack made their big hair small or their small hair big and changed from — what would it be?..."

Facial hair, probably. Mustaches in the 80s, and of course beards come and go. Small, controlled beards (e.g., Todd Palin or Lord Vetinari) look good; big bushy ones do not, unless you are an Amish farmer or Santa Claus.

Conservatives 4 Better Dental Hygiene said...

If there is one thing that conservatives should be in favor of, other than just better dental hygiene, it's good hair. Strong, straight, well-managed hair. Hair with a certain color and texture - hair that displays an uneasy coexistence of vigor and established status. Hair that signifies disinterest in the power that it has secured.

With the right hair, America will endure in perpetuity as the bestest thing in the world and in history. Hair conquers the harebrained schemes of liberals and other agitators. Like an army of like-minded soldier-patriots, hair is aligned with a good comb into a showy phalanx of righteous goodness.

There. You have it. Hair.

Rejoice America.

America's Politico said...

This week I saw Casino Jack. What a player. What a skill. The GOP has top skills. The problem is there are wrong skills. What are best skills: appreciate science, be a visionary leader, embrace diversity, etc. Clothes are not that important. Instead of clothes, the GOP needs to get into Science.

http://www.slate.com/id/2277104/?from=rss

Conservatives 4 Better Dental Hygiene said...

The revolution will not be televised, but attempts to produce it on a reality entertainment show will be made.

Palladian said...

Robin Givhan's writing could make nuclear Armageddon seem trivial. I'm not generally in favor of "fashion" writing but she's one of the worst.

bagoh20 said...

I hope you ladies all realize that to most of us you are naked 100% of the time anyway. We still respect you or not depending whether you deserve it, and not on where you shop. Men are much more fair that way. If you don't get respect, don't blame it on your clothes.

Conservatives 4 Better Dental Hygiene said...

Right o', Bag O'. But that takes away from them a sense of "work" - or at least, the shallow female's equivalent of it.

Men and women are funny in the way they take efforts at mate procurement to mean something much more. Men do the same thing with sports.

edutcher said...

All Ms Givhan had to say was, "Clothing not only makes the man, it also makes the woman". But, as Pogo notes, the eternal verities seem to escape her.

rhhardin said...

Washington's currency is currency.

These days, it's an IOU in Mandarin Chinese.

Big Gov't Trickling Down His Leg said...

Would this be a good thread for proposing that an office called "Leader of Entire World" be created and that Sarah Palin be inducted into it?

Nah, Willie and The Zero are the only ones dumb enough to want the job.

Conservatives 4 Better Dental Hygiene said...

Geez Ed. Don't you have some gay soldiers to denigrate? I thought you were done wasting time by bashing me.

Anyway, Obama and Clinton shouldn't have to apologize for being more well-liked around the world than any of the usual dopes run by the GOP over the last 20 or so years. You should really stop resenting them for it.

wv: bumpi

traditionalguy said...

The Clothes Game is the age old game of first impressions that people almost never change, especially among the very intelligent. Changing their mind later would be an admission of their limitations, God forbid. Add clothing first impressions together with that human stubbornness and a political fact has occurred. Of course, the architecture of massive buildings sends out similar signals.

MayBee said...

So who is this powerful sheath-wearing woman, besides Michelle Obama? And isn't that quite old fashioned, to put the woman in the figure hugging sheath so she is sexy to her husband, who will then provide her with some power to play with?

Is it the modern powerful woman who waits for her husband to be elected into office, then makes him sleep on the couch if he doesn't pass the legislation her sheathed body yearns for?

traditionalguy said...

Conservatives for better dental health...Another signal we give off besides clothes and buildings is the way we act in a crowd. Those rules can be vicious. Actually taking a second drink at the Christmas party can end a young lawyers career at big firms. That is why your idea to promote Sarah Palin is such a good one. She will loosen up the GOP good old boys reign of terror without taking all of their private property like Marxists say is necessary. It is possible instead just to beat them at their games like Russell Crowe did in Gladiator. Sarah can be our Gladiator. Have a happy Holidays, my friend.

Penny said...

Can you imagine being a fashion writer in Washington DC, the land of power brokers?

This is the female journalists equivalent of working in the mail room.

Start a new column about GAMING!

We've got generations of gamers out there now who'd be mighty interested in reading how they play out live in Washington.

Conservatives 4 Better Dental Hygiene said...

My apologies for not reminding myself of the vital role Palin seems to play in breaking the power monopoly of the "good hair crowd" and happy holidays to you too.

Penny said...

MayBee, follow the fourth link to the article about Kirsten Gillibrand in Vogue.

This was my favorite line...

"But as the look of female power shifts and evolves, the myth of the goddess warrior is becoming real."

I will take that as a cue for this goddess warrior to get out of her jammies.

jamboree said...

Yeah, a guy wouldn't have to change, but generally guys don't quote bitchy idiots like Robin Givhan on *politics* - so there you are.

There is the infamous Kennedy v Nixon moment, and I'd argue, Obama's entire election was due to aesthetics.

MayBee said...

Thanks, Penny.

Funny, I did a Google image search of Kirsten Gillbrand, and she is almost always pictured wearing a suit. She doesn't seem to wear the sheath much outside the pages of Vogue.

William said...

Some men are genetically engineered to be rumpled. Mike Huckabee probably looks better in an expensive suit, but clothes do not gracefully drape from his frame. The same can be said of Madame Albright. I think we subconsciously give gravitas points for a rumpled appearance. At any rate, I distrust someone like John Edwards whose appearance seems too sleek and pampered.....I'm inclined to think that jeans and sweat shirts are nature's perfect garments. I rejoiced when I had sufficient money to wear them as my daily garb. I don't care if people take me seriously. What is most important is that I do not have to take them seriously.

Penny said...

That isn't going to stop Givhan, a fashion writer, from WISHING that Gillibrand wore sleek black dresses to lead us, MayBee. Then she wouldn't have to make up expressions like "goddess warrior" in order to pander to her audience.

Read the Gore link too.

Ha ha! Fashioning fiction from fashion can get complicated!

Alex said...

Rumpled suits only look good on those who don't have the body to pull it off. If you have the bod - flaunt it. All those women flashing cleavage are doing it!

ricpic said...

Black is sexy, beige is blah, but in the clothing game,
Understated is the way to lure the status dame.

Ann Althouse said...

Why is the dress called a "sheath" considered sexy? In the sex act, the woman is the sheath. Therefore, the woman wearing a sheath should be considered a prick.

jaed said...

(Althouse, that may be the weirdest thing I've ever seen you post here. Hostility toward the sheath-wearer!)

The sheath has never seemed like a sexy dress to me. If a woman doesn't have just the right build for it, it makes her look like a box. It can look elegant, but sexy?

RichardS said...

"There are two tyrants in human life who domineer in all nations, in Indians and Negroes, in Tartars and Arabs, in Hindoos and Chinese, in Greeks and Romans, in Britons and Gauls, as well as in our simple, youthful, and beloved United States of America.

These two tyrants are fashion and party. They are sometimes at variance, and I know not whether their mutual hostility is not the only security of human happiness. But they are forever struggling for an alliance with each other; and, when they are united, truth, reason, honor, justice, gratitude, and humanity itself in combination are no match for the coalition. Upon the maturest reflection of a long experience, I am much inclined to believe that fashion is the worst of all tyrants, because he is the original source, cause, preserver, and supporter of all others."
John Adams to Samuel Malcolm, 1812
http://oll.libertyfund.org/index.php?option=com_staticxt&staticfile=show.php&title=2127&search=%22fashion+and+party%22&layout=html#a_3102195

rhhardin said...

L. vagina means sheath