Thursday, July 9, 2015

Loose Morals?

    The single most significant change in the Attire language over the past 100 years has been a steady up-tick in our comfort level about body display, and overt sexuality in apparel.  Of course, women have traditionally been packaged for display of their charms, but now men are doing the same thing.  We have watched over the past century as women's skirts have risen to such heights that they nearly vanish entirely, and during the 80s it was possible, through the popularity of spandex, to be able to tell a guy's religion from across a street.
    The current vogue for sheer clothing, and cut outs in all sorts of odd places, only reinforces that change towards greater acknowledgement of sexual behaviors.  But what made all this happen? 
    Well, the beginnings lay in the early 20th century, when women started moving into the work force in great numbers, and demanded clothing that would facilitate ease of movement.  The first World War encouraged this even more, since so many women took over men's jobs.  It was game on from that point.
    Skirts shortened even more in the 20s, and in the thirties with the bias cut coming into vogue, a gleaming silky sexuality appeared, that has never faded since.  Sadly, men were lagging far behind at this point, probably because they were still comfortable with their societal position.  They were, as yet, unthreatened by women in the work place, so staying where they were reinforced their position.
    But it was the 1960s, the Sexual Revolution, the Peacock Revolution, and the Youthquake, that changed everything for the guys finally.  Shirts worn open to the waist, pants so tight that their pockets were utterly useless, and the sudden appearance of brilliant color and pattern in menswear allowed men to strut their stuff as they hadn't for hundreds of years.
    Along with all this realization of sexuality, through increasing amounts of discussion of sexual behavior, came a greater interest in physical fitness.  You couldn't very well wear all those tight clothes, and short skirts, without battling gravity a good deal.  The gym became the first, and greatest accessory item.  The notion of body sculpting came into being, and it has taken over in a big way, making our bodies the first item of Attire that we use every day.
    Its an ascending spiral, naturally.  As we have become more and more obsessed, (and I don't think that's too strong a term) with fine tuning our bodies into the current mode of perfection) Attire has responded by giving us more and more frank ways of showing the results of that obsession off.  Even tighter, even shorter, even more see through, more cut outs, every season.  Menswear collections are crammed with bare chested models, even when there is no real need for it.  And all of them, every last one, sports the requisite 8 pack. So we get constant reinforcement about what the expectations are, which only sends the spiral further upwards.
    And women's collections are now so jammed with clothing that takes the concept of the reveal to its apex, that you are left wondering what is next.  The sheer skirt of any length is now a normative.  Cut outs are blandly acceptable. Skirts that only graze the bottom of the bottom raise nary an eyebrow.
It is surely true that in the real world these concepts all get toned back down a bit.  The point though, is that we have willingly turned up the volume on this sexual broadcast.  Though there have been many who decry it for its more vulgar aspects, including myself, the essence of this is a good thing.  Getting ourselves away from outmoded, confining notions of human sexuality, and becoming fully at ease with talking about it, and looking at it, can only be a healthy thing in the long run.
    So, till we get to that new comfort level about sex, we are going to have to work through the obsessive part first.  It won't always be pleasant, but change, especially change for the good, rarely is.

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