Today, International Women’s Day, I read a Guardian article about the latest fashion sensation, the ‘micro handbag’ smaller than a credit card. And it got me thinking.
On one of my first days starting at my sixth form college, a girl walked into a class wearing a beautiful floral summer dress. When a friend said she liked it, the girl exclaimed, ‘It has pockets!’ all the girls in the classroom jumped around to look in amazement. This led me to conclude that women’s clothing really is not made for women if finding pockets is something to be excited about. And it has a lot to answer for, including sexual assault apparently.
How has the industry been allowed to filter high fashion down to such a poor quality range of clothing? From being see-through half of the time, impractical, and uncomfortable not just to move (I’m looking at you long-sleeved tops!), but to wear. I am sure most women can relate to taking off bras and seeing red imprints, the tight red rings of tights and seams and waistbands and suffocating skinny jeans: just to feel relaxed and unwind. I vividly remember being a young adolescent searching and searching for an appropriate dress to wear that didn’t have a ridiculously high hem and showed anything if you bent down; or you know, moved. Needless to say, this small endeavour genuinely took years, and made me feel very uncomfortable as a result.
Of course, online shopping has revolutionised the way women can dress themselves, with unlimited price ranges and styles available to them. Of course, this is essential for liberating their essential sense of identity: controlling their first impressions to people they meet every day, and expressing their state of mind and feeling. It is almost unsurprising that high street stores are now endangered; perhaps in part due to the restricting range of clothing they have to offer in-store, compared to the expanse online. However, why should women have to scour the internet to find respectable clothing, or pay an arm and a leg for a shirt, and contribute to the critical gender stereotype that women constantly shop? Naturally, there is absolutely nothing wrong with shopping. It is possible for it to be a therapeutic and liberating past time. But we are almost positioned to fill the critical trap laid out for certain mouths to blurt out ‘women are always shopping and incapable of saving money’.
Additionally, the devastatingly tragic quality of clothing leads, from my own experience, means clothes rarely ever last for a year if I am fortunate enough. Although these are not top designer lines, whether I buy from New Look, Hollister, Jack Wills, Crew Clothing or H&M I have the same issue. Nothing considers longevity. Discussing this issue with my significant other, he was so surprised at this information and said all his clothes survived up to five years. Of course, this is totally individualistic, but the very fact that male clothing has the ability to last so long shocks me. Comparing my clothes to his, (which included ‘borrowing’ shirts and jumpers!), women’s garments are thinner, much less durable, and more prone to visible wearing such as pilling and running thin after a few runs in the wash. Therefore, this leads to a genuine gap in the average expense women have to budget for clothing. And there is often no compensation for this. Women’s clothing is no less cheap than men’s, often more expensive: especially when you consider components of womenswear. Bikinis are sold as two pieces, each alone the cost of a swimsuit: Not as a set of the top and bottom as you would rationally expect. All this for much, much less material, practicality and technology of fabric.
Furthermore, the lack of pockets, reportedly due to production lines wishing to save material and labour on a basic component you can easily learn to make on YouTube, means women have to carry a bag. For anyone who knows me, I blatantly refuse to carry a purse or a handbag, simply because I cannot abide them (a handbag?!): uncomfortable, a nuisance, easy to leave somewhere. I do hope clothing chains do not see the micro hanndbag as an opportunity to skimp on material costs. But when far too many jeans have only two functioning back pockets, sometimes with the mocking parody of fake pockets (who’s idea was that?!), personal security is a major concern. The most common damage to phones is through dropping them down toilets.
I say all this but seeing stunning outfits on Instagram and perfect styles beautifully put together is something I totally admire. However, I cannot help but wonder whether she’s comfortable.