Thursday, September 29, 2005

suits you sir!

but it doesn't though - does it?

I went on a shopping outing with T the other day, T fancied getting a suit (which would be his second one). He looks quite good in the one he's got, which he wears about one day a month on average. He only ever wears collarless shirts - which are very hard to find - and it's a fairly casual style.

We went to M&S and the choice (and this is totally serious) was grey, dark grey, dark blue and grey, dark blue, black, grey and black. There was nothing brown, green or light coloured. And the one he tried on made him look like an unhappy accountant/ wedding photographer. The patent leather pointy shoes that the man at the changing room gave him to wear to test the length of the trousers did not help.

It well and truly put him off the idea. Me too.

I had a little internet search after and found that Next do linen and gaberdine suits and Boden to "moleskin" (which sounds cruel to me!). They are a bit more casual.

Anyway - the point is - why wear one at all - it's so macho. He feels like it is essential on the odd occasion. One thing that is clear is it is a uniform. It is notable that women do not have the same restrictions in most workplaces. Some women wear I work wear a suit (usually bright colours or at least with a bright blouse). Others wear all sorts of tops and they have a choice of skirts and trousers. There obviously are subtleties that men can "read" from the suit-wearing, but it's so limited.

I wondered if this is because men are not meant to be attractive at work, but women are. That is Naomi Klein's view - see the Beauty Myth post. It also seems to be that men are not taken seriously unless they conform utterly. (Women are never taken seriously no matter what we wear).

We talked about how some men wear suits to go out at night - T used to have a suit as a youngster that he bought so he could get into nightclubs. Again the same issue arises - men are the ones who have to follow the "shirt and tie, no trainers, no jeans" rules - for women it's literally anything goes! We think that is because women are on display and the more women nightclubs attract in, the more men will also pay to go in.

All this reminded me of what I thought when I saw the press call on the first day of the UN general assembly when all 60 members were photographed together. Obviously there were very few women, but noticeably there was a lot less "traditional/ ethnic/ national" dress than there used to be - almost all the people were wearing western tailored suits in dark greys.

President of the Phillipines Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's red suit is noted on the Phillipines government website. She is the first President of the Phillipines, the first Asian head of state, and the first woman leader to preside over the UN Security Council Summit - the webpage says this about 10 ten times. I guess it's good. Shame about the suit though even if it is red. I'm not sure what I think about women getting into positions of power - it means we are taking part - but it does not change the fact that what we are taking part in is the patriarchy....

Anyway - back to the suits. The suits we know and love are culturally specific and seem much more dowdy than the formal wear of other countries - although I don't know enough about it to know whether for example an Ghanian lawyer or an Bangladeshi hyper-capitalist company director would be expected to wear grey rather than, say red....


birdychirp said...

wow - you are having a really prolific day! I like moleskin suits on men - we did manage at one point to persuade The Doctor's father his new suit was made of moles....

Winter said...

Have you been checked for chronic fatigue and ME? My Mum had ME and it started with dizziness.

I'm a 10 - 6 person by the way.

Winter said...

Sorry that comment ended up on the wrong post..somehow! I have no brain.

Z said...

Suits! Yuk.
Give me a man in jeans and a t-shirt any day of the week.
Actually today is a good day for such a gift ;)

Thanks for the visit to my blog the other day. :)