A Man's Guide to A Woman's Wardrobe

Two years ago, Times reporter Luke Leitch's co-worker was on maternity leave and so he was asked to go on a mission worthy of a Force Recon Marine: cover a round of womenswear shows.

Luke returned (by the skin of his teeth, I'm sure) to provide the rest of mankind (the straight and male kind, obviously) with invaluable insight into a woman's wardrobe:

I have now spent two years embedded deep in female territory: in fashion, with a capital F. And I have started to get the hang of it. What has become clear is that fashion is to many women what sport is to many men: a pastime, a passion, a shared language, a form of self-definition, and a temporary escape from the opposite sex, all rolled into one deeply satisfying whole.

Most men regard this female passion from a default position of distrust, derision or at best patronising tolerance. Even the cleverest males are liable to take this line. Kant both derided and distrusted fashion: “[It] belongs under the heading of vanity…and also under the heading of folly.” Nietzsche preferred to patronise: “Comparing man and woman in general, one may say that woman would not have the genius for finery in general if she did not have the instinct for a secondary role.”

I very much doubt that either of these great chin-strokers spent any time contemplating the interior life of a woman via the interior of her wardrobe. Because men, when they think of women’s fashion at all, tend to see it only in terms of how it makes them feel—whether it arouses, confuses, or repels them—rather than considering what it makes a woman feel.

Read more about at The Economist's Intelligent Life: Link


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I much prefer Weininger and Friedan. Women are fashion-crazy because it boosts their self-esteem. It boosts their self-esteem because it garners more attention from the opposite sex. It garners more attention from the opposite sex because men objectify women. So, women objectify themselves to appease the objectifying eyes of men. And men objectify themselves with economic status, wealth and access to power, of which women find especially attractive. Conclusions; men and women objectify themselves in different domains; men in the status, wealth, power domain. Women in the domain of sexual objectification, which fashion assists with.
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KD, the "straight and male" comment is pretty out of line. It's a sweeping and negative generalization, like saying that all Asians have small penises.
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