Thursday, November 11, 2010

From gluteal cleavage to breast cleavage. Oh joy.

I joined the Great American Apparel Diet and pledged to not buy any new clothing for myself until September of 2011. That's an easy one for me. However, my oldest daughter likes to mix new with vintage. This sent us on a recent trip to the mall.

I visit Denver's Cherry Creek Mall on occasion and head straight to Anthropologie where I put on tunnel-vision glasses until I'm in the sales closet just to poke around at upscale bric-a-brac or indulge myself with the purchase of a scented candle. Afterward, I scout about to see what the Anthropologie store designers have been up to.

But this time, we went into other stores in search of a few needed additions to my daughter's wardrobe. What I saw was terrifying. What are we doing to little girls? Why is retail attempting to push them out off the cliff of childhood? Why would anyone run from childhood? For many of us, it's one of the best times in our lives. Do little girls need to dress like they are going to a rave?

I pulled out my soapbox and sat on it for awhile with my head in my hands and thought.

For over a decade millions of women have tossed aside those “mom jeans” and fallen into the short-waisted pant. I will admit, when worn properly, they are a little flattering to the figure and can take a large rump roast and give the illusion it’s a smaller serving.

Note I qualified that with “when worn properly”. Not until a few years ago did the fashion industry offer any mass solution to help women hide their coin slots (butt cracks, that annoying "gluteal cleft") that short-waisted pants are promised to feature when left uncovered. Women became vending machines of a sort.

I’ve worn short-waisted pants and still do. It’s a break from wearing men’s button fly 501 Levis. Back in the years of coin slots I found an online store offering body suits with the snap in the crouch. Dressed in a classic, black, ballet neck bodysuit I was safe and I could use it as underclothing with a sweater or blouse. No matter how far I bent over, even if I decided to stop, drop and do a few yoga sun salutes in the grocery store, no one was going to deposit a quarter in my posterior, unlike the woman below. Is this what we really want to see in the frozen food section? Perhaps if you're on a diet you'll forgo that Sarah Lee pound cake because you just lost your appetite.

So for years women walked around breaking two basic fashion violations, don’t show your undies or your butt crack. Many women were in coin slot (aka "appliance repairman's butt") denial, believing theirs was not showing while being appalled by everyone else's. And for years we were stuck on crowded escalators with an exposed butt practically shoved in our face.

I guess a couple extra quarters inserted might eventually pay for a latte. But – let’s be honest, you think a barista is going to want to take money I literally pull out of my ass? Talk about dirty money.

One day in a store I was thrilled to find a body suit and pulled it out of the rack only to discover it was thong bottomed! In my world, a thong body suit is an oxymoron of fabric. And, let’s be honest. Thongs are literally dirty. Many doctors don’t recommend them because they are known health hazards. Perhaps The Surgeon General should take up this one. I'll bet it would parallel the whole history of the cigarette industry and another Insider would step forth.

Have you heard? There's a new take on tight jeans, the "jegging". My prediction? The new jeggings of today are the old “stirrup pants” of yesteryear. Jegging? What marketer came up with that name? It sounds like an insult. “Yeah, he wouldn’t stop jegging on me so I just stood up and left him with the tab.” Jegging has a Wikipedia entry if you need. Oh, and don't worry, they do come in acid wash.

Several years ago the fashion industry finally - en masse - released longer tops that could be tucked into or pulled over the coin slot. Finally.

Well not really. American fashion merely substituted “gluteal” cleavage with breast cleavage. Robbing Peter to pay Paul. Granted blatant breast cleavage has been around for a long time, but it was saved for events like Oscar Night. Now it’s everywhere, everyday, even in middle school - and if they can pump them up - in elementary school.

So the coin slot traveled up the body from the butt to the boobs. And we continue to break the most basic of fashion rules like don’t show your foundation (bra) and dress in context (i.e. breast cleavage is not appropriate in a middle school Health Science class).

Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that the majority of t-shirts are a double if not triple swoop on the chest line? And they’re sheer. We’re told that they’re for “layering”. But, it’s genuinely difficult to find anything that covers more than the double swoop unless it’s a turtleneck or a crew neck. So do we layer low cut tops with low cut tops so that we purchase two tops and still have cleavage?

Cleavage is the new a national fashion crisis. We see it nearly everywhere. Why does a 7th grade girl need to show cleavage (with aid from a push up bra) in American History? Does she think it’s going to wake our Founding Fathers from their eternal sleep to teach the class? Sure, schools have dress codes, but this is so out of line administrators would spend every minute of the school day writing up violations if they where to fully tackle this. Which reminds me of a tackling dummy. A lot of tiring, often futile work.

Where's the class in this? That's right - full of boys not paying attention.

I’ve an idea. It’s a turnstile of sorts. A person walks into this contraption and both back and front gates close, the person must stand in place, a life-sized model of a hand on a lever swings down and performs the “hand rule” check. (I image this hand to have a clown glove-like appearance to signify how ridiculous this has become.) If the person does not pass the hand/finger/quarter/marble test, then the back gate opens, wild sirens and buzzers blow and the child’s not admitted into the school. Perhaps we could get Dan Castenllaneta, the voice of Krusty the Clown, to shout, "You're shirt's too low, go home and change kid!"

When you go to the mall you're subjected to the latest trends. Here today, gone tomorrow. Lather, rinse, repeat. Many are flat out ugly and not flattering to the most svelte of figures. I guess that’s because they want people to eventually throw those clothes away with a giant, “What was I thinking?” and journey off to the mall to replace one catastrophe with another.

When you go to the thrift store, you see decades of fashions and you can pull the best from each decade and build your own style, not be a fashion zombie and have to shudder ten years out in the future because you fell for the jegging.

Hey fashion industry! Can you stop making fools out of women?

How about you design scissor-cut crop t-shirts for men and make them the rage, the only shirt men can buy! How about something that accentuates and pumps up the air in that spare tire? How about a new line of cosmetics for men that present an honest red neck? Okay, I will admit the mens shoe industry is making millions off of "sport shoes" that look like something Neil Armstrong must have worn and probably cost the same as Armstrong’s NASA boots back on a certain day in July 1969.