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Beluga whale at a wedding

(22 Posts)
thatbags Sat 07-Sep-13 09:25:20

Nice pic but not really why I'm posting a link to it. The real reason is the way so many people dress for formal occasions like weddings. Something has been puzzling me for a while. Why do women go bare-shouldered when men go buttoned, tied, and jacketed up?

Maybe I have a too practical approach to clothes to really understand, but it seems to me to be inherently encouraging sexism if clothes are mainly for decoration and differentiation of the sexes. I've nothing against decorative clothing, in fact I'm in favour of it, but why doesour culture (and others) make the women decorative rather than practical or smart and the men smart and buttoned up rather than practical or decorative?

If a man needs two layers of fabric on his shoulders for practical reasons or for formality, why doesn't a woman? Conversely, if the ambient temperature allows women to go bare-shouldered, why don't men too?

MiceElf Sat 07-Sep-13 09:38:31

I'm inclined to agree with you, thatbags, but it's a phenomenon I don't encounter as I don't go to posh formal occasions. Except for one Scottish wedding where the men in kilts, fancy socks and sporrans outdid the women by an Olympic race track.

JessM Sat 07-Sep-13 09:52:45

Guess it goes right back to the fashion in the late 19th c bags Picture those turn of the century trophy wives displaying their chests and hiding their legs. The rich woman's body was displaying the wealth and success of the husband and family - or showing off their wares in the attempt to find a rich husband. The women led a life of enforced idleness with a lady's maid to help look after the clothes and help them dress and undress. Men's sexuality was hidden and downplayed under all those dark clothes. They did not need to display - they had all the power and if successful could buy themselves a desirable wife. Prostitution was a huge business in places like London - so many or even most of them must have purchased casual sex regularly.
The fashions of those times are still with us - and in quite a big way, particularly in the formal "do".

annodomini Sat 07-Sep-13 10:05:06

A return to the fashions of the Regency period would be fun! I loved the descriptions of both men's and women's attire in those Georgette Heyer romances of my teen years.

thatbags Sat 07-Sep-13 10:27:48

I like that post, jess, and it does 'explain' the phenomenon in a historical way. I guess I'm just puzzled that we haven't got over it yet. Yet another thing to show how far equality between the sexes still has to go.

mice, I'm the same re formal dos, but even if I did need some formal clothes, I wouldn't follow the current fashion. People would have to like or lump my chosen style, which has been described as "smart casual". Smart casual is how I'll remain, except when scruffy casual is more appropriate.

thatbags Sat 07-Sep-13 10:29:13

Descriptions of uncomfortable clothes are quite enough for me, anno wink #don't,andwon't,DOuncomfortable

JessM Sat 07-Sep-13 10:37:32

Yes quite anno rich men were decked out in those days weren't they. As in Tudor times. Consipicuous consumption of wealth by men as well as women when it came to clothing.
Equality of the sexes will have arrived when there are no men's and women's clothes perhaps? At the moment, in casual dress, men and women may be identically dressed. Do women have more freedom in some ways? I'd love to see my DH in a kilt - but he is much too shy. A woman could wear a tux to go out to a posh do but man in a frock...? hmm

Iam64 Sat 07-Sep-13 18:24:15

I don't frock up often, but I do enjoy it occasionally. Women's formal or occasion clothing doesn't seem to be designed for comfort, I have to search a good while to find something a bit special that doesn't require bare shoulders, arms exposed, and even worse - high heels.

LizG Sat 07-Sep-13 18:36:44

You have made me feel so much better. I am going to a wedding at the end of the month and was very concerned that I had chosen to 'dress down' but to be honest given my height and size it was all I could do. Now I can sally forth like a galleon without being too concerned.

j08 Sat 07-Sep-13 19:20:37

It's because women like to look a bit pretty.

Men just hope they look hunky.

j08 Sat 07-Sep-13 19:21:08

I don't mean the men hope the women look hunky.

wisewoman Sun 08-Sep-13 18:45:53

I don't understand the fashion for strapless dresses for all shapes and sizes - particularly brides. Young women always seem to to wear strapless dresses which they are constantly hitching up (not a good look). Does fashion dictate what they wear so much that they don't stop to think if it suits them. As to "mature women" wearing strapless dresses - well words fail me!

annodomini Sun 08-Sep-13 18:47:25

My DiL looked great in a halter necked wedding dress; my niece looked cold and out of proportion in a strapless one!

j08 Sun 08-Sep-13 18:48:24

Agree. Especially for the brides! hmm

Galen Sun 08-Sep-13 19:51:46

My son many years ago was a boy soprano in the church choir.
They were singing at a wedding service.
On return the ladies of the household enquirer ad to the brides dress?
"It was white, and sort of topless " replied my son!hmm

Penstemmon Sun 08-Sep-13 20:49:13

At traditional Hindu and Muslim weddings men and women are similarly dressed.

Deedaa Sun 08-Sep-13 22:06:16

There seems to be an awful fashion now for larger girls to wear strapless dresses which are very full and gathered under the bust. Presumably the intention is to hide all the lumps and bumps, but actually it just makes them look huge and shapeless.

For anyone who doesn't want to look like a sack of potatoes I would recommend a look at Tilda Swinton who wears a lot of masculine-style tailoring and always looks stunning.

Tegan Sun 08-Sep-13 22:36:14

It always seems to me that, no matter how much beautiful detail these sleeveless wedding dresses have they all look the same in the wedding photos. And very few women have nice enough arms to carry it off.

Ruthdpl Tue 10-Sep-13 19:58:55

My daughter gets married next year and specifically did NOT want a dress which is long and strapless. The problem is that most wedding shops stock predominantly this style, with a only a very few different ones on offer. Consequently she has ended up travelling to a shop 200 miles away for a (beautiful) tea length, non strapless dress. There isn't as much choice out there as people might think.

Granny23 Tue 10-Sep-13 21:10:42

You are right Ruthdpl. My very petite, modest but large busted daughter was in despair after trying all the bridal departments and shops. Although she looked lost and swamped inside these almost topless but huge creations the bullying assistants insisted that she would be gorgeous with the right underwear and half a yard chopped of the skirt. She eventually found a small boutique, off the Grassmarket in Edinburgh, where her dream dress was designed and made to her specification and exact size. [see pics on my profile]. AND all for around £200 instead of £2000.

If the wedding industry get their hooks into a bride she will end up looking like all the other stereotyped brides, with the same hairdo, flowers and dress.

JessM Tue 10-Sep-13 21:30:10

Things could be worse. In HK the thing is to have three or more wedding dresses. Scene one takes place in the park (they are v small - the parks) for wedding photos, several weeks before The Day with white long frock. Non brides (or grooms) have to squeeze past them in parks at weekend at weekends. When i was there ALL the brides had those hair up and one little ringlet on each cheek hairdo.
Then on The Day there is a very long reception and the bride changes several times - maybe a pink frock and a red Chinese embroidered one and has to traipse around the tables in the hope of getting lots of money given.
DH attended a few of these dos and his favourite moment was the suckling pig course - with LED lights glowing in its eyes. grin

Deedaa Tue 10-Sep-13 23:11:15

My son and daughter went to a friend's wedding in Kenya. It was a fairly big society wedding and the bride wore a plain white dress with panels of hand woven green and purple fabric, which I think came from Ethiopia and was apparently almost priceless. The day before they had the tradional tribal wedding which was a lot more fun. The bride had to show that she would be able to feed her husband and the (English) bridegroom had to prove that he could hunt game. All the girls were shrouded with blankets at the beginning and he had to recognise her by her feet to be sure he was marrying the right one. Lots of fun and not a satin meringue to be seen.