Zipper Fashion

January 14th, 2016 Posted by Susan's Musings 15 comments

 

This past weekend, my husband and I had the pleasure of hosting long-time friends who came to our neighborhood to meet the parents of their soon-to-be daughter-in-law. Sharon and I have been friends since first grade, while my husband and David’s close relationship goes back to 1978. The sensitive among you will refrain from examining the math too closely to discover exactly how many years have gone by. Suffice it to say, our conversations range far and wide. 

When we were out walking on Sunday, Sharon and I chatted about needing to buy clothing to adjust to east coast winters.  The topic arose of how zippers on women’s clothing used to be hidden. In fact,  learning how to insert invisible zippers was the bane of sixth grade sewing class. We observed that nowadays zippers feature prominently as integral parts of clothing design. When we concurred that the fashion industry constantly changes, thereby encouraging women to buy new clothing every year, it became clear that the men were listening to our conversation.

“It’s sweet how naive you are,” one of them said while the other nodded his head.  

If you asked me to name four adjectives that describe me, I don’t think that naive would be among my choices. There is much, like profanity, that I choose not to allow into my life, but I’m aware that many things of which I disapprove exist in our society and are rampant. Yet, I had no idea that zippers could present a hidden message that completely eluded me. 

During our friends’ visit, David, who is a passionate  music lover, explained sonata form to us. While my husband and I may enjoy listening to classical music, David ‘gets it’ on an entirely different level. Similarly, he recently shared a video analyzing the artist Vermeer’s masterpieces in a way that completely magnified my appreciation of the painter and his work. Now, it seemed that I also needed him to help me take a deeper look at women’s fashion as well. 

According to the men in our lives, Sharon and I were naive for not recognizing that wide, prominent zippers on women’s clothing send a message to men saying, “Unzip here.” While this may not be meant to be taken literally, subconsciously men’s imaginations are being directed to think of whatever is beneath the impossible-to-miss zip. Certainly, the fashion industry wants women to wear this season’s clothes and tries to make those clothes easily identifiable. That is why different seasons feature different colors, lengths, styles and patterns. I knew that clothes portray an image, whether the sophisticated and feminine look of Kate Middleton or the, masculine look of women’s power suits in the 1980s, and that the styles match the times. Was I completely missing more subtle clues and messages? 

I have long been mystified by the woman who wears a cleavage-revealing top while asserting that she wants to be judged by her mind. The balance between dressing in an attractive vs. seductive manner is one that leads some women to look frumpy while others err in the opposite direction. Yet, if men, who know more about men’s reactions than I do are right, there’s messaging going on that I hadn’t even begun to consider.  Are they right? 

Many other hidden messages are being given all the time. Right now, you can save money while  learning to recognize the messages of socialism disguised as compassion and fairness. Find it all in ancient Jewish wisdom’s exploration of nine verses of Genesis.

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15 comments

Lori says:

I’d love to share that video on Vermeer with my husband as he appreciates Vermeer’s work as well. What was the title?

James says:

Well, what do I know? I am just a stupid MAN…ha ha. Yet I feel your suspicion is about hidden messaging is right. You bring up a riddle I have pondered and stumbled over for many, many years: Given a population of women, how many women dress for other women and how many dress for men? The question is more profound than it seems, borne out by the fact that women spend easily at least five times the money on clothing that males spend, and feel compelled to do so. It might be a case of ‘face’ (meaning PANIM the plural noun in Hebrew), by which the Rabbi informs us that we possess many faces.
It is clear to me that women are judged very harshly by other women, in a way that men cannot fathom. So perhaps every woman is torn each day by a choice between faces, that is: Which face do I present to the world today? Do I dress to make myself appealing to men, or do I best dress to avoid the cruel eyes, censure and condemnation of other women? Perhaps some are in a quandary of situation ethics each day: how to dress for both.
Perhaps a clue is found in the reply of a lady to the following question: ‘Why is it that so many women dress in shockingly revealing costumes, like sex goddesses, on Halloween?’ Her reply was: ‘Halloween is the only time of year we can dress like sluts and get away with it.’

Here you go, Lori: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DEior-0inxU. It’s a 2001 documentary narrated by Meryl Streep.

You left out the choice of dressing to make myself feel good, James. But you are right about your other choices.

James says:

Oops! Thanks! The addition of that third alternative makes the choice still tougher, I suppose. Well, I am not exactly a slob, but I dress too much to please myself and not enough to please others (My wife tells me so!).

Karen Jones says:

Home ec.. the zipper MUST be hidden , then my Grandmother took me home for a week and made me pin and baste and sew and rip out until I mastered the art of the hidden zipper…I can think of nothing else since I saw the first bare revealed zipper , but ” Grandma would roll over in her grave if she could see this” . Karen

Nancy says:

Zippers, buttons, snaps, laces, or Velcro, if women wore cardboard boxes men would not need any instructions to which side is up. Men are like pirates and experts at spotting hidden treasure, and typically do not mind so much if the booty were discovered to be synthetic gems. You see, my cruelty is not limited to other women, I try not to discriminate.
Personally, I love turtlenecks but I find they are of no more utility in discouraging attention. However, in studying the marketing tactics of the use of color, I uncovered the underlying psychological reason why I am partial to wearing the color yellow; it is stimulating, but no one can look at it too long.
That sort of covers all aspects of dressing to please everyone, including myself.

Your grandmother and mine!

I knew about yellow being stimulating, but not that people don’t look at it too long. There was a realtor I knew of who always wore bright yellow in group business settings – people remembered her when they forgot everyone else they met.

Lynn Perrizo says:

Modesty is lost on our culture today. I live in rural Colorado where blue jeans on a daily basis is the norm and I’m thankful for that. I only have to decide on a shirt to go with them. I do have a fancy pair of black jeans for special occasions. There are people here who do dress up but it seems acceptable, overall to dress how you’re comfortable. But that wasn’t really the point of your blog was it? I agree with the Rabbi on this one. Usually my t-shirts are long enough to cover the zipper on my jeans!
On to a different blog a few weeks ago. I saw a tweet last night that brought me back to what you wrote a few weeks ago about Syrian refugees and our taking them in. I am conflicted over the whole thing. I want to be kind and open to those who have suffered but I also want to make sure my family and I will remain safe from harm. We are well aware there are many within the numbers of those refugees who would want to do us harm. What I saw last night was a picture of a bowl full of M&Ms. The caption was something like “There are 100 M&Ms in the bowl. 10 of them are poison.”
Thought you would find that an interesting simplification of the situation we are facing.

That M&M bowl is a powerful visual image. There is an art to not getting callous while at the same time standing firm.

Lora says:

I suspect there may be some truth to this, but it also seems too subtle. I feel bad enough for an 11 year old girl wearing sweats that have the word YUM printed across her rear. That just should not be! But zippers have become part of the accessories of clothing, not just a closing mechanism. More ways to clamor for attention, perhaps, and immodest in that way. But the design of the zipper, when a woman is trying to just find pants that fit in hips and waist and length, would be too much for me to consider. Now if the word YUM were printed right next to the zipper, I would be ticked off. But an uncovered zipper? Maybe I’m from a wrong generation to ‘get’ that. I prefer simpler clothing in any and all cases. Anyone who reads my zipper wrong would have read all of me wrong no matter what. If this uncovered zipper catches the attention of some men, and I suspect it does, no hard feelings at all, I get that, then I should hope they have the sense to read the rest of the person as well. The ones who won’t are probably the ones who don’t just notice my chest, but never look above it.

Have you seen the type of zippers I’m talking about? Funnily, I have heard privately from men (not surprisingly, fathers) who knew there was something wrong with their daughters wearing otherwise modest skirts and dresses but with prominent zippers.

Lora says:

Perhaps I am thinking of the wrong thing. I generally do feel bad for men and women and the issues each faces.

Wish we could have a conversation!

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