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.


Anonymous said...

It is a shame about the young girls, I agree. If I had a young daughter, I would be so frustrated....
What I cannot believe are women my age (mid 50's) who show cleavage as well. It's NOT pretty--our skin changes, no matter what! I want to say, please, just cover up--you are not in your 20's! Modesty really is a virtue.

beccy said...

I haven't bought new clothes for years now, but this summer I was invited to a wedding and HAD to have a red cardi to go with the vintage 40's dress I was planning to wear. I couldn't find one in any thrift shop or on ebay so I decided to break my rule and visit a retail shop. I was genuinely shocked by the flimsy, badly made, low-cut, low-rise, neon-bright 'fashion' clothes I saw there. Needless to say I didn't buy anything!

In the same vein, I don't know about the US but here in the UK it is nigh-on impossible to find a bra that doesn't have an inch of padding unless it is a granny-type full-cup lace covered mostrosity (I'm only 30!). Personally, I don't feel the need to force my boobs up under my chin for everyone to see (although since I am an a-cup this isn't really possible anyway) and I hate that disembodied boob feeling when your arm brushes this inch of padding that should be flesh. I've seen padded bras from a 30AA (to fit your daughters, ladies!) to a 40DD (padding, really?) and it makes me really, really angry.

the thrifty ba said...

i almost always wear a modesty top (shade is a company that sells them) with all my outfits. they are long in the body and come up high enough in the front to avoid showing my entire breast off. i also wear them under tshirts, which i see now, are too thin to be worn with just a bra. i really really hate that look.
thank you for speaking up.

erin said...

i got my 2-year old daughter a couple of pairs of cute jeans at an upscale children's conisgnment shop. popular brand, current style. to my dismay, her little tush frequently hung out when she wore them. couldn't really tell if it was the cut or just her small bottom, but when i held them up to another pair of jeans, it was clear that they were, in fact, of considerably lower rise. i guess that's what you get with "mini me" styles--dressing young children like miniature adults. have you seen the recent GAPkids line?

anyhow, we got some new jeans with a better fit, and they're still quite cute. this mama has learned to "try before you buy!"

Janedo said...

Well said! I have three daughters, one of them a teenager. We spend a lot of time talking about clothes and appearance and the oh so important lesson of looking critically at the latest fashion. Here in France it is the SAME problem. Most shops are filled with low cut pants and cleavage showing tops. I was so happy to find that higher cut pants are creeping their way back in to the stores. THANK you!!!! But the young girls don't realize that those jeans are making their rears look ten times bigger. And they don't think about how woman are being pushed in to thinking cleavage is fashionable when all it does is send out signals to men! Ten year olds with their budding breast practically showing! Scary. I hope it all turns around soon.

Shopping Golightly said...


How I wish I knew last week. I saw a red cashmere cardi from at Goodwill for $5. Perfect condition, no moth holes, darling classic (not conservative) cut. Even with the cost of shipping it to you in the UK, it still wouldn't have measured up to the cost new - based on the quality of this sweater.

Jill said...

I am a middle school teacher, and I am forwarding this to my vice principal - she has been fighting this battle at school all year, mostly successfully, but if you actually build that machine, Krusty the clown voice included, she and I would be out holding car washes to raise the funds to be the first to buy one!

Theresa said...

It is disheartening when you go bra shopping with your 12 year old and discover that padded bras are all that is being sold.....everywhere, including Sears. Whatever happened to the plain white training bras of yesteryear?? And thongs in the girls department????!!!!! In a time where pedophiles are rampant, girls are dressed like streetwalkers. There are girls being put at risk without even realizing it. We live in such utterly sad times.

Angela said...

Well said!

Anonymous said...

I don't have a daughter, but I am fed up with current retail trends for adults as well.

I now refuse to buy "tissue tees". As far as I'm concerned, they are a rip-off designed to force layering. And you're right-- if everything is low cut and tissue-y, what are we layering for, anyway?

And I've always been disgusted at the fashion articles that suggest you MUST wear a thong to avoid the dreaded panty lines. As if before thongs were invented, we were all walking around with horrible lines on our butts. Give me a break. The real problem is ill-fitting pants made of cheap fabric.

The problem I've had in recent trips to the thrift shops is that everyone is now getting rid of their too-short tops. So the thrift racks are full of them.

Anonymous said...

Appreciate and understand your post. It must be very difficult shopping for a young girl nowadays, if you want her to dress like a lady. Am very heartened to read your readers' responses as well, because now I know I am not alone. As a middle-aged woman, I have 2 choices when I go shopping, be it thrift or new: slutwear or granny wear. IOW, flimsy white- trash clothes fit only for anorexic hookers who are 6 ft tall and weigh one pound and have 32 H boobs ("tits on a stick"); all items are done in "Made in China" polyester. Gramma wear is done in polyester OR heavy flowered cotton and polyester knit with elasticized waists and cute sayings on the sequined flowered tops like "World's favorite gramma". Complete with plastic baby vomit on the shoulder for that realistic effect, these pieces are usually in sizes 20 and above. And WHY IS EVERYTHING POLYESTER for chripsake? And don't EVEN get me started on bras. Can't find one in a 100 mile radius that does NOT have underwires and is NOT cut for a woman with a ribcage length of two feet or more. Anonymous #1, I so TOTALLY hear you! I very rarely buy clothes, haven't shopped for clothes in about two years. I know I have to eventually, but it angers me to have waste my precious lifeforce searching 8-10 hours for maybe two pieces of clothing that fit and are worth my time and money to begin with. Our thrifts are horrible for clothes, they are merely a lower echo of the trash in the stores. So discouraging, all the way around!

Anonymous said...

I agree with you. Also did you buy the fat jiggling machine? Will we see a photo of you with it?

Anonymous said...

I'm so happy to read this and know I am not alone. I was beginning to think I'd turned into one of those "get off my lawn!" types, you know? But really, it would be a wonderful thing to see the clothing industry do a complete turnaround and make modesty the next hot thing. I'm so sick and tired of seeing skin I shouldn't be (and don't want to be) seeing. Cover up already!

Alex M said...

American fashion these days wants to make all women look like strippers. We have the Kardashians and "Real Housewives" to thank for that.

Real breast don't even look "normal" by today's standards because all the media shows are women with implants.

And young girls are waxing and shaving EVERYWHERE. One mom I know found out and her daughter told her all the girls do it "because the boys like it." Coming from a 14 year old...

The Prudent Homemaker said...

The price of cotton continues to rise, which is one of the reasons for the thinning shirts that are for sale.

I have 4 daughters--and they ONLY wear dresses. After size 6x it's hard to find a dress with sleeves as well as one that comes to the knee.

I sew a lot.

I refuse to wear low-rise pants. I have NEVER seen them look flattering on anyone. If you are overweight even a little bit, everything hangs out at your waist and looks awful. I'm found some at-the-waist jeans at the thrift store, as well as some good skirts that come to the waist as well. (One was so simple and comfortable that I turned it in to a pattern; I've made 4 skirts off that pattern now).

I took a well-fitting blouse from the thrift store (100% Irish linen!) and took it apart and made it into a pattern. I made it using a linen/cotton blend. It's white, and it's not see-through.

When you find something that works, try making more!

Alan said...

Finally a subject I can sink my teeth into, so to speak. Hope you and your family had a great Thanksgiving. The link to the eHow article had me in stitches.

Good luck on the new apparel diet. It is easier than you think as current clothing is awful, at least menswear.

Anonymous said...

oh gosh, even if I had as cute a petooty as your`"model," I could not bring myself to let the sun shine on those sensitive areas, the first time I saw a gal's thong show from behind or silky bra straps show, I thought it was a mistake, then I figured out it was a sickening trend on soccer moms & hoocthie mamas alike, ladies need to look themseves in a mirror before stepping outside,


Fashion Suits said...

Oh my gosh! that was very horny! i think hes green!

Anonymous said...

You are absolutely right!

Women are precious. God has decreed that women should not show their skin in public. To do so is an insult to God, and man.

Your dictates are hardly original. The Qur'an supports your views. Any woman displaying the parts of her body that you mention (and others you don't) should be stoned, lest she dishonor herself and her family.

You are obviously a progressive and forward-thinking woman in this time of sin.

Allah bless you.

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