Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Female Fashion (And Other Impossible Subjects)

I want to return to a favourite topic of mine: women.

Regular readers will know that I love women; I love watching them and talking to them. They fascinate me with their beauty, personality and charm.

My problem is that I simply do not understand them. The women in my life have tried to explain to me how their minds work but, just as I think I have grasped the mechanism that makes them tick, they astound me with behaviour that contradicts everything I thought I had learned.

If you didn’t already know, dear reader, I am forty seven years old and I STILL cannot fathom the machinations of the female psyche.

I would like to discuss an imponderable topic in the world of women: fashion.

I am a man and I know what I like when it comes to women. Physical appearance is important but I am also very fond of intelligent, strong and funny women. Most men are the same. Men are initially attracted to the looks but will only form a lasting relationship if she has intelligence and depth.

I couldn’t, for example, fall for a woman who looked like Megan Fox if she had the IQ of a dung beetle.

Yet sometimes, even the most intelligent women on the planet can fall foul of expectations driven by fashion and beauty magazines. I don’t understand it. I have overheard beautiful women chatting about their problems in this area and my perception is that their IQ drops several points when discussing clothes, makeup and the shape and size of their bodies.

Now that may sound chauvinistic and insulting but that’s the way it appears to me.

Am I wrong?

It’s as if some women simply switch off part of their brains when it comes to decisions in this area and sometimes make terrible choices based on their assessment of what men want, what other women want and what the fashion and beauty industry tells them they ought to want.

To balance things out, men are equally guilty of switching off their brains and allowing their penis to take control of their bodies but that it something for another post.

Women love buying clothes. As a man, I only buy clothes when the rags I am wearing have so many holes that I appear naked when viewed from a distance. Mrs PM steps in way before that happens thankfully, otherwise Manchester would be a city in turmoil: I would become the Mancunian equivalent of the Loch Ness Monster.

There are several things that puzzle me when it comes to female clothing.

Firstly, can somebody explain to me what is going on when it comes to sizes?

When I go into a shop to buy a pair of trousers, I have a rough idea of the size of my waist (34 inches), the size of my leg (30 or 31 inches) and can stroll over to the trouser rack and be pretty sure that the 34 inch regular length trousers will fit me. Similarly, I can stroll to the shirts and deduce that the 16 inch collared shirts will not strangle me and that the 38 inch chest jacket will almost certainly be a perfect fit.

Women have a major problem in this area. They have to go for a size 8,10,12,14,16,18,20 in absolutely every item they want with the exception of shoes.

What the hell is a “size 12”?

12 what exactly?

Inches? Feet? Broom handles? Elephants?

You may mock those latter two units of size but some of the variations in items of clothing vary so much from shop to shop that a size 12 in one shop may be tiny enough to fit a baby chimpanzee while in another shop a size 12 could accommodate a rhinoceros.

What is going on? Can somebody explain this to me?

Correct me if I am wrong but most human beings are completely different shapes and sizes. Thankfully men do not wear all in one outfits like dresses (although some do I suppose). Women are different shapes both at the top half of their bodies and the lower regions.

So how can a dress be a size 12?

This is a constant source of frustration for Mrs PM, for example, and she is definitely not alone.

She can, say, fit into a size 14 top and a size 12 skirt but struggles with dresses because the size 12 may suffocate her while the size 14 can look like a Bedouin tent. I’ve known her to try on a size 14 dress and then beg for me to call search and rescue because she can’t find her way out of it.

I can only surmise that the sizing scale for women’s clothes was conceived by a sadistic madman who did so for a drunken bet.

Fashion magazines haven’t helped matters. I think that shops vary their sizes to make women believe that they are smaller than they are in order to appeal to their vanity or perception of how others see them. A large lady will be delighted if she can go to a shop and squeeze into a size 14 and I imagine will boast to her friends that she is slim enough to do so, even though in that particular shop, a size 14 would fit a horse.

I cannot think of a reason why a shop would design a size 14 that would barely fit a stick insect – perhaps somebody can enlighten me.

One thing is for sure, from my experience of shopping with both W and Mrs PM, the clothes for women that are on sale in your average shopping centre are designed for women who appear only in fashion magazines, i.e. are average height and are built like scarecrows.

All of which leads me nicely on to my next topic – the portrayal of women in fashion magazines and similar female oriented rags.

Quite frankly I am astounded. Lots of models for these magazines are very pretty but, and let’s be fair to them here, are thinner than my garden rake. And these women are portrayed as the quintessential image of womankind and therefore a target for young impressionable women and girls. I have seen pictures of women who look as if they do not eat and impressionable girls are led to believe that all women should look like this.

I have read about the “quest for size zero”, which I believe is encouraging women to diet beyond the realms that nature intended in order to become the perfect woman.

However, I have a revelation for you: it is utter bollocks and complete horseshit.

I have a message for any ladies out there who strive for size zero under the misguided belief that men (or indeed other sensible women) may find them attractive:

Don’t do it! Be yourself!

Obviously, don't eat so much that you resemble a beached whale. You can still be curvy and attractive without having to pander to the requirements of fashion gurus.

Most men prefer women who are sizes 12 to 16. I love cuddling a woman who, as my dad used to say, “has a bit of meat on her”.

Take Beyoncé for example. I believe she is a size 12 (UK size that is) and she looks fabulous. She is curvy in all the right places.

Louise Redknapp attempted to diet to fit herself into a size zero dress as part of an investigative documentary. Here are the before and after photos. I know which I prefer.

There is a lot of pressure on women and it comes from the cult of celebrity and fashion media and quite frankly it stinks. I am beginning to understand why it is so difficult for women to shop for clothes and also why they have so much difficulty trying to fit the image the faceless so-called gurus and self-obsessed arseholes try to force them into.

My advice, for what it is worth, is to adopt the mantra that I and most normal men live by: be yourself and be normal.

I don’t care too much about my appearance (that much is obvious)!

The only thing that irritates me is my hair (but only because people laugh at it). I strive to be a normal bloke, wearing clothes that I like (not those that fashion gurus tell me I should wear) and I try to maintain an average shaped body. Yes, my stomach is expanding and yes, my body looks nothing like that of Brad Pitt. But I am not a freak (despite my self-deprecating posts saying otherwise). I eat a balanced diet but I don't feel bad about eating chocolate and crisps (although I don't eat them to excess).

I could have spent hours at the gym trying to sculpt my body into the shape of Arnold Schwarzenengger but it would have been pointless. My life wouldn’t have improved and I would have ended up a fat bloater by now.

Women should not strive to be as thin as a rake – adopt the middle ground. Don’t overeat and become too fat but equally don't starve yourself – just be who you are. Men love a cuddle but they don’t like to hug a bag of sticks made of skin.

Crikey – I’m beginning to sound like an agony aunt aren’t I?

I apologise for that – I can only give you the benefit of my thoughts, opinions and desires.

As for the actual clothes that women buy – I simply cannot have an opinion other than it should show off all the greatest assets of the woman’s body.

However, I have one more question: why would a woman wear a skirt?

I am not complaining because a woman with fantastic legs can send my pulse racing like a formula one racing car on speed – and that’s probably why they do it – well not for me personally (I think most women would prefer to cover themselves up in a suit of armour when faced by the prospect of meeting me).

The weather in Great Britain is nothing if not unpredictable and towards the end of September the temperatures plummet. Yet you can guarantee that there will be young women wandering around wearing short skirts exposing their legs to the bitterly cold winds.

In winter, I am very pleased that I wear thick jeans to protect my legs from the cold. Yet what do even sensible women wear? Skirts with only tights for protection against the elements.

And then they complain about being cold.


Am I missing something here?

I’m sure that there are guys who wear skirts – David Beckham famously popped out in a sarong but he was probably enjoying life in a warm place like Madrid or Los Angeles. Also, he is so famous that he could get away with anything (and frequently does).

Of course, there are my fellow island-dwellers, the Scots, who claim to be so hard that they wear big woolly skirts (or as they prefer to call them “kilts”), sporting absolutely nothing underneath the protect their tallywhackers.

No wonder they like the term “Braveheart”. You’d have to be brave to wear a bloody kilt, especially in the middle of a Scottish winter.

Anyway, I’d better stop now before Mad Jack McMad crosses the border to kick seven shades of crap out of me.

I might try interviewing Mrs PM to see if she can shed any light on women and fashion. On second thoughts, perhaps not – she might drag me out shopping illustrate her answers.


Mind Of Mine said...

Will Mrs.PM be happy you have posted her clothes size?

Clothes are art and therefore subjective, so don't try and get your head around them. Just appreciate how they make Mrs.PM look.

In regards to 12/14 debate, most well known stores and designers work to a standard where they know there customers. A woman trying on a size twelve in primark is probably kidding herself. Primark know this so really their size 12 is actually a size 14. This makes the women feel good and thus she returns. This goes for men as well...

Other shops work in the opposite way, a size 12 is really a size 10 etc. This makes sure that the clothes are seen as much in their original design as possible. No designer wants to see their stuff stretched across a size 22 whale.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Mind of Mine,

Mrs PM is fine about her size but frustrated by the variation. Despite the fact that stores are trying to standardise, she still finds it tricky sometimes.

So I may be right about "shrinking" size 14's to make them look like 12's. I thought that made sense.

I don't know about you but I have seen large women wearing stuff that is modelled by rakes and it can appear a little sad. Nevertheless a woman that big can find clothes that look good on her.




Pandora Behr said...

Oh PM, you've said it all, and said it well. Being a woman is hard - everything you say is true.

Great thing is, a lot of us grow up, realise that you can find your own style, don't listen to the size thing (for the most part) and wish we had the luxury of being a man who knows his waist and leg length.

Great post.

Kath Lockett said...

Dave I'm with you all the way. I'm technically a size 12 but have worn anything from size ten to eighteen depending on the brand, the item, the fit I want etc, so now it's best not to worry about the 'number' sewn into the collar (or crotch, if we're talking about jeans).

As for skirts.....! I avoid them like the plague and even when I was a stressed out manager I used to wear trousers and jackets. Skirts look nice but mean you have to wear stockings (erk) and shoes that are not designed to allow you to walk any further than the waste paper bin beside your desk without agony.

Am I the only female who hates clothes and hates shopping for clothes?

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Pandora,

Yes - Mrs PM also says that being a woman is hard.

She is envious of my ability to walk into a shop and walk out again a few minutes later with clothes that fit perfectly.

She is also envious that I can dismiss the pillocks I see modelling men's clothes in magazines.




Plastic Mancunian said...

G'Day Kath,

I forgot to mention jeans. They come in in the incomprehensible women's sizes too, don't they? What size is a pair of "size 12" jeans? What about waist and leg length?

You can guarantee that if men had to suffer these sizes they would change.

I'm sure there are other women who hate shopping for clothes. I would if I were a woman - that's for sure.




River said...

I've never understood women's fashions either. Short skirts and scooped necklines are fine for the summer, but many wear these things in the winter too, with just a thin little scarf around their neck, tights on their legs, and like you said complain about the cold. I see it time and time again. Chests exposed to chilly winds, thin shoes instead of warm boots, no gloves or hats at all.
Sizing is a major problem. Different designers have different sizings. Find a brand and size that fits you comfortably, then stick with it. That seems to be the best option. I'm a size 16, I can buy this size in three separate brand names and be comfortably dressed. Buy size 16 in a different brand and I find the clothes are too narrow. This is one of the main reasons why I don't clothes shop until I really, really need to. The other reason is cost. Mens t-shirts, for instance, are far cheaper than womens, and I find that the medium mens size fits me just as well, so that's what I buy. I'll never be fashionable, but I don't care, comfort is the thing.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi River,

Your comments make perfect sense to me. I've never understood, for example, why women wear shoes that rip their feet to shreds. I've discussed this with Mrs PM and she looks at me as if I am an amoeba.

It just doesn't make sense.




drb said...

Well, Mr PM,
Wearing as little as possible during winter actually helps you to lose weight! Without the appropriate clothing, you body would be forced to burn fat to keep you from developing hypothermia. Also, if you catch a cold or flu in doing so, that will help you to lose more weight!

If you don't believe me, try it!
You can lose up to 2-4 kg per winter by not rugging up.

Yes, it is difficult to buy dresses if the top and bottom bits are different sizes. Usually, it will require alteration and most boutique will recommend a tailor to do it or even alter it for you with a small fee.

You are a lucky man to be able to buy clothes off the rack without alteration. Most of the men I know well (including hubby, brothers, exs, dad) will have to get the sleeves or legs lengthened/shortened. In fact I know one man who has never required any alteration of any sorts!

drb said...

Shoes! Or rather Heels!
Comfort is in direct exponential proportion to price tag.
You will be able to run on Manolo Blahnik or Jimmy Choo stilts but you will have to fork out the down payments of your apartment.

Beautiful shoes complete the outfits, different shoes for different occasions.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi drb,

Well I never knew that (apart from possibly losing weight with the flu).

I will choose to stay wrapped up nice and warm :-)

I am perfectly average in every way so I can simply buy things straight off the rack. The only thing I had to have altered were the trousers on a penguin suit - but that was because it was in a sale and there was only one left. The waist was fine but the length was too long. The jacket fit perfectly.

Mrs PM (and most women) are envious.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi again drb,

Mrs PM does have a lot of shoes, most of which cripple her if she walks too far. She clearly doesn't want to remortgage the house the buy a pair.




Unknown said...

Actually those sizes from 0 to 22 for women have the equivalent in inches. I am a size 4 (right now I'm a size 6 because of the weight I put on from my 2 month vacation). Size 4 means I have a 26" waist, and dress size is still 4 -which means, my chest is medium-endowed.
So a size 12 has a 34 to 35 " waistline--the average size of American women.

It's rare to find attractive women with strong, intelligent minds these days---they demand more from men more. Unless you really understand them or you're filthy rich, they will be attracted to you too.

I don't find Beyonce sexy ---she's so big. If you see her thighs, they're like logs....but she's proportionate ---everything in her body is big.

Actually wearing skirts by me is not new---it's been worn by men since ages ago by indigenous tribes of other lands like the Philippines, Mongolia and other Asian countries.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Bingkee,

Yes - you are right about men wearing skirts. It doesn't seem to fit in Manchester though :-)

Size 4 in the US is a size 8 in the UK (I think).

I take it you had a fab time back in the Phillippines.