A matter of evolution

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A matter of evolution

Postby crfriend » Fri Jan 06, 2017 2:04 pm

Or is that "evilution"?

In Oldsalt's "Many Minis" thread there's some discussion of what types of skirts are "appropriate" for what types of settings -- and it's pointed up that it's a moving target and will likely remain so. None of us is clairvoyant, so we're not going to be able to divine what the future holds, but we should be able to look back and see what was where in the past.

For instance, when did miniskirts become "appropriate" business or semi-formal attire? When did the long skirt get relegated to "casual" attire? Now, that's a pretty extreme inversion of roles, and it's happened in the lifetimes of many of us here. It's also likely local culture -- or what passes for -- that's in play.

An example of this is "When did trousers become 'appropriate' for a business setting?" -- and I can put a date to this from where I was working in the 1990s. Up until about 1995, the company I worked for (now deceased -- a "prototype Enron") relaxed its dress code (shirts/ties for non-management men/suits for the managers and skirts or dresses with appropriate shoes for the women, and no bare legs/feet) to "business casual" (which remains another moving target) and things started going downhill pretty quickly from a style perspective. The slide became a downwards-facing rocket-assisted dive with the institution of "casual Fridays" in 1998 or so.

Skirts in the business world here in the early 1990s were virtually universally knee-length or longer, with length and material selection down to the individual. Once in a great while one would encounter a short skirt in the workplace, though virtually never a true mini, and even then only on very young and junior types. Virtually never did anybody of rank wear anything much above the knee. For semi-social gatherings, it'd be suits for the guys, and frequently very long skirts or dresses for the women.

Clearly there was a ground-change in the mid 1990s -- and women took much advantage from it. The only thing that happened for men is that a more slovenly appearance began to be tolerated and the era of khakis was reborn (from the 1950s very casual "preppy" world).

The explosion of creativity and exuberance in style (for both men and women) in the late 1960s and '70s had been forgotten by the mid 1980s when the climate chilled due to the rise of the neo-cons, and by the late 1990s any notion of "style" was rather largely dead and buried.

It'd be interesting to identify some clear milestones and put dates to when they were passed.
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Re: A matter of evolution

Postby Disaffected.citizen » Fri Jan 06, 2017 9:00 pm

A real can of worms there CRF :D

I would be hard pushed to pin actual dates, but I suspect Ally McBeal had some influence on hemlines in professional settings; so IMDB might provide some point of reference.
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Re: A matter of evolution

Postby crfriend » Sat Jan 07, 2017 12:08 am

Disaffected.citizen wrote:A real can of worms there CRF :D

It was -- unintentionally -- going to be so from the start due to the breadth and scope of the thing. Not only are we dealing in "style"/"fashion" (which is necessarily subjective), we're dealing in time and locale as well. At best, separate time-lines will have to be drawn for different locales/cultures, and then we'll have the further difficulty sorting out individuals' senses of styles as a potential pile of data emerges.
I would be hard pushed to pin actual dates, but I suspect Ally McBeal had some influence on hemlines in professional settings; so IMDB might provide some point of reference.

I think nailing to within a half-decade would be "good enough", but some of us here hopefully have long and accurate memories and can pin a year on something. I'll candidly admit to a two-year slop in some of my observations, although when correlated with other (known) events the accuracy is greater.

I still recall being required to wear a tie when I was in computer field-service in the 1980s, much to my chagrin. At least I learnt to tuck mine into my shirt when the going got dirty. Ever seen an electrostatic large-format plotter? I have -- from the inside. I sorely wish that black dress shirts were available then. Very sorely. Coal miners can at least wash the stuff off in a shower (save for lungs) at the end of the day... (There were no women field engineers as far as I know -- at least where I worked.)

As far as Ally McBeal goes, let's see if we can leave fiction distinct from actual observation. However, that meme may explain some of the travesties I've witnessed.
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Re: A matter of evolution

Postby Pdxfashionpioneer » Sat Jan 07, 2017 12:39 am

Carl when you try to dismiss the influence of Ally McBeal I think you miss the place of media in our society. They're pretty much at the cutting edge, sometimes leading trends, sometimes just behind, often right at, and sometimes creating trends.

I'm not sure what the value of pursuing the history is. I remember that in the early 80's there was a woman in a low-level backoffice position who was criticized behind for her miniskirts. I thought her critics were NUTS! She was beautiful, with a good figure and great legs. Who cares which birthday she had passed? She looked terrific, even if she was a little out of step. A few years prior, miniskirts had been quite acceptable. There just weren't many women in high-level positions and fewer yet who looked good in minis. Several years later, it was anything goes, so long as it looked good and didn't look overtly trampy.

I think "The West Wing" does a good job of reflecting the business attire of the period (mid-90's) in which it was shot.

What matters is what are people wearing to work now? Anyone planning to wear a skirt or dress to work should look around the office they're working in and try to figure out what things that the women are wearing would look good on themselves. If that's too small a sample size or you're some sort of free-lancer or consultant, make a point of finding a busy street corner and staying outside during lunch hour to observe. Then dress a half of a step more conservatively or more formally than your female peers. I say that because I feel we're betting a little of our professional credibility with this step so to maintain your status you go high not low, to paraphrase the First Lady. (Yet another example of what a loss this last election inflicted.)

This should be a better guide than anything that gets posted on this forum because every city is a little different.
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Re: A matter of evolution

Postby crfriend » Sat Jan 07, 2017 1:38 am

Pdxfashionpioneer wrote:I'm not sure what the value of pursuing the history is.

The value in studying history is that it gives us perspective by reminding us where we've been, when we were there, and when some key events happened -- be they successes or failures -- and gives us clues on how to trace the path forward avoiding the inevitable pitfalls. Recall that we learn vastly more from the failures than the successes. If slovenliness is "success" then we've certainly achieved it -- and it's likely to remain in that stasis for years if not generations. However, I regard that slovenliness as failure and am interested in the time-line and path that led us to that failure. In this way we learn, and may be able to forge a different path forward.

After all, "Those who do nut study history are doomed to repeat it." Blending that ancient sentiment with the more modern engineering-influenced "failure is more valuable as a learning tool than success" yields the ideas above. In short, "Reverse-engineer the failure, learn from it, and don't let it happen again." (Something else will, and then we'll learn from that.)

On "Ally McBeal" and the media, I tend to regard the media with suspicion at best and at worst with contempt. They get it wrong more often than they seem to get it right, yet lemmings follow it blindly and unquestioningly. Note my commentary on attire worn by women in court settings in the north-east US.

I remember that in the early 80's there was a woman in a low-level backoffice position who was criticized behind for her miniskirts.

Of note is the observation of "low-level backoffice [sic]". What were her female superiors wearing? Her peers?
She was beautiful, with a good figure and great legs. Who cares which birthday she had passed? She looked terrific, even if she was a little out of step.

Is that an objective observation or a subjective one? The distinction is important. How far "out of step" was she with her peers and superiors?

I'm a big fan of short skirts on attractive women, but I'm also sensitive to setting. I've also seen 70-year-olds who can rock a mini with more aplomb than the cutest 17-year-old available. (Competence and skill is an aphrodisiac for me, vastly more-so than simple looks.)
A few years prior, miniskirts had been quite acceptable.

Where, in what settings, and for what ranks?
There just weren't many women in high-level positions and fewer yet who looked good in minis. Several years later, it was anything goes, so long as it looked good and didn't look overtly trampy.

Right there is a good example of a break-point -- it's where something went from one state to another, fairly abruptly. Was the break an improvement overall or a detriment?
I think "The West Wing" does a good job of reflecting the business attire of the period (mid-90's) in which it was shot.

I'm given to understand that Mad Men is similarly so inclined (but a modern creation) although I've never seen an episode of it.

When I think shallow and trashy, I think Sex and the City which I have seen an episode or two of.
What matters is what are people wearing to work now? Anyone planning to wear a skirt or dress to work should look around the office they're working in and try to figure out what things that the women are wearing would look good on themselves.

If that were the case I'd be in dungarees and other slovenly dreck.
If that's too small a sample size or you're some sort of free-lancer or consultant, make a point of finding a busy street corner and staying outside during lunch hour to observe.

I work for a start-up in the 'burbs. Recall my commentary elsewhere of "The suburbs don't count for style". That's where the worst of the worst shows up.
Then dress a half of a step more conservatively or more formally than your female peers.

That'd be khakis. Never forget -- Hitler wore khakis.
I say that because I feel we're betting a little of our professional credibility with this step so to maintain your status you go high not low, to paraphrase the First Lady.

Cribbed, perhaps, from Dress for Success? That said, there is a point to that. But, what happens when everything is on the floor (or in the gutter)? One step up remains slovenly.
(Yet another example of what a loss this last election inflicted.)

Do NOT get me started on that -- nor any of the rest of the community. It might be funny -- for the perversely-minded -- but certainly not polite never-mind genteel. Just. Do. Not. Go. There.
This should be a better guide than anything that gets posted on this forum because every city is a little different.

I'd posit that it'll more than a "little different"; I suspect the standards are wildly divergent -- which is part of the reason I floated this notion of studying time and location.
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Re: A matter of evolution

Postby Disaffected.citizen » Sat Jan 07, 2017 3:20 am

I'm picking and choosing a few snippets here, for commentary, rather than "deep and meaningful"; it's the small hours and I seem unable to either rest properly nor concentrate greatly....

crfriend wrote:.... I regard that slovenliness as failure and am interested in the time-line and path that led us to that failure.
Sadlt, I concur. To some extent, I suspect there is an element of economics where times are hard; however, a quote of old comes to mind: "to be poor is unfortunate, to look poor is unforgivable".

After all, "Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it." Blending that ancient sentiment with the more modern engineering-influenced "failure is more valuable as a learning tool than success" yields the ideas above. In short, "Reverse-engineer the failure, learn from it, and don't let it happen again." (Something else will, and then we'll learn from that.)
I agree with the first quote, completely; sadly, the herd seems not to. The second is more flexible in that we learn from successes, too.

On "Ally McBeal" and the media, I tend to regard the media with suspicion at best and at worst with contempt. They get it wrong more often than they seem to get it right, yet lemmings follow it blindly and unquestioningly. Note my commentary on attire worn by women in court settings in the north-east US.
My earlier reference was to "pop culture"; it has a significant influence on trends.

I'm a big fan of short skirts on attractive women, but I'm also sensitive to setting. I've also seen 70-year-olds who can rock a mini with more aplomb than the cutest 17-year-old available. (Competence and skill is an aphrodisiac for me, vastly more-so than simple looks.)
Oh, yes :D
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Re: A matter of evolution

Postby crfriend » Sat Jan 07, 2017 1:26 pm

Disaffected.citizen wrote:[... A] quote of old comes to mind: "to be poor is unfortunate, to look poor is unforgivable".
That was hilariously lampooned in the movie Zorro, the Gay Blade as, "There is no shame in being poor -- only in dressing poorly!" (The flick is awash in good lines and over the top costuming.)
[... W]e learn from successes, too.
We do, but success breeds complacency. Recall my comment on "slovenliness as success" in my original missive. Once you've accepted something as successful, it tends to remain a constant. It's only when untried things are attempted that failure takes on an important role
My earlier reference was to "pop culture"; it has a significant influence on trends.
A comment on lemmings would not be out of place here.
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Re: A matter of evolution

Postby Gordon » Sat Jan 07, 2017 9:29 pm

Location and money are a big part of how people dress also. I live about 50 miles north of Seattle Washington in what could be called a rural area. When the wife and I go shopping at a local mall you hardly ever see people "dressed up". But if you go near downtown Seattle or over to the east side of Lake Washington to Bellevue there is a distinct difference in how people dress. There were lots of dresses, skirts, hosiery and high heels. Bellevue is known to be a very rich area of Washington state. You see lots of very expensive cars.

We went to Bellevue square yesterday and I thoroughly enjoyed the visual feast of lots of ladies dressed very well and some of them were definitely sexy. Something I never see locally (very very rare). I was wearing a grey knee length dress skirt with a black with white pinstripes woman's top, black semi opaque tights and 3" heeled oxfords. I got a few stares but I felt very comfortable and got some smiles too.

I love to go shopping in Bellevue, something I do once or twice a year.
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Re: A matter of evolution

Postby skirted_in_SF » Sun Jan 08, 2017 5:42 am

Gordon wrote:Location and money are a big part of how people dress also. I live about 50 miles north of Seattle Washington in what could be called a rural area. When the wife and I go shopping at a local mall you hardly ever see people "dressed up". But if you go near downtown Seattle or over to the east side of Lake Washington to Bellevue there is a distinct difference in how people dress. There were lots of dresses, skirts, hosiery and high heels. Bellevue is known to be a very rich area of Washington state. You see lots of very expensive cars.

Your experience is like the contrast between where I live in San Francisco and where my brother lives in Yakima, Washington (a small, mostly agriculturally based city in Central Washington state).
We had a rather cold (for SF - upper 40s F) and dreary day last Thursday. Even so, about 10% of the women on the sidewalks were wearing skirts or dresses. Mostly with heavy tights. :)
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Re: A matter of evolution

Postby Kilted_John » Sun Jan 08, 2017 11:01 am

I'm about 20 miles ENE of Bellevue, in Duvall, which is a rural town. It's slowly and very slowly becoming suburbanized, but only about 2 miles outside of town. Get out of the incorporated part of town, and it's mainly a rural setting. Just tonight, I saw at least one other skirted person here in town. A plus-sized woman wearing an ankle-length pleated black skirt while shopping at the local Safealbertwayson's (I now call both Safeway and Albertson's that, since they're both the same company). I have no idea if she even noticed the longhaired guy in the knee-length denim skirt, kneesocks, and hiking boots.

Even in Bellevue (and Seattle), skirted women can be a rarity, especially if it's winter and not the holiday period... About 90-95% of the time, I see working women in trousered clothing on the east side. In Seattle, probably 75-80%. Those who don't are frequently younger and may be working at retail stores catering to the alternate culture crowd, since a lot of the styles worn have some goth or steampunk elements in them, as well as lolita.

Last time my mother wore a skirt publicly for a non-wedding event was sometime in 1992. A few times, she's worn a skirt or a dress at home when it's been hot, but, the rest of the time, she's either in pants or a pair of shorts. My sister last wore a skirted outfit on the job in 2005 or so. Ever since then, trousers. Wore the outfit when she was working for one of the congress members. She recently wore an LBD while dating in 2015, but has since reverted to trousered outfits.

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Re: A matter of evolution

Postby moonshadow » Sun Jan 08, 2017 6:42 pm

Skirts are particularly popular around these parts on women. I'd say about 60-70% of them are longer midis and maxis, very few of what we would call a "mini", younger girls (teens, early 20's) may be seen on occasion wearing skirts above the knee, however that generation seems to favor yoga pants in the winter and short shorts in the summer.

The most common skirt is of the calf length variety worn mostly by mid-aged women, hems go a little lower (about to the ankles) on older women. Still virtually all women in these parts that wear skirt to the knee or lower look like the "churchy" type.- Nothing too flamboyant. But hands down, the most popular "bottom" among the ladies ARE trousers of various types, and yoga pants.

Interestingly, during the summer months I'm seeing more and more men wearing kilts, particularly Utilikilts.

At our corporate office, which is really my only practical sampling of what's "in" for office women, I can tell you about one third of women there wear skirts and dresses. Knee length is the most common size. I've seen very few midis and maxis to date. Of those knee length skirts, the most common style is the pencil skirt. Very few A lines.

But really, I still believe we're overlooking the 800lb gorilla in the room... when it comes to evolution, we (men in skirts) are blazing our own trail, "evolving" in our own direction. Why do we spend so much time trying to decipher what's in style for women?

If it's all about what's in style, we'd be best to stick to kilts of various types and refrain from anything "womens". Since my employer has strict rules on what's acceptable per gender, I am forced to distance my taboo choices in style to my own time, and even then, out of sight and out of mind of those I work with. Thus, I look at it this way: I choose my clothes the way I want, as long as I'm not wearing something that's going to get me arrested why should I care?

Sure, I make efforts to "look nice", but to "look nice" to my eye. Sometimes I get compliments, sometimes not. Every so often I lay a bad egg, but we all do. We say to "look to women to see what we should wear", but in all honesty, I don't particular fancy what's "in" in womens fashion more often than not. Perhaps it's just me, but I find great beauty in that which is uncommon and unique. There is nothing inspiring about what "everyone" is wearing. "Oh look, there's another guy in pressed trousers and a tie, Oh look there's another woman in a pencil skirt..." whoopdiedo!

MEANWHILE, whilst eating at a Captain D's in Bristol with Amber, an elderly, somewhat chubby woman was across the room. She looked to be in her 80's or 90's, and as far as her body goes, well past her prime, but she was wearing the most elegant gown I'd ever seen. A long white flowing gown type dress with golden trim. She had a small flower tied in her hair. The outfit looked somewhat biblical, and I wondered if she was one of those hard nosed religious types that would douse me with holy water and salt.

I was wearing one of my skirted outfits, I believe a floral skirt with a decorative top. As she walked by, she stopped, smiled at me, put her hand on my shoulder and said "you look very pretty today!". I smiled back at her and said "thanks- I was thinking the same about you!". She told me to have a blessed day and went on her way.

What she was wearing was not something you'd find in an office environment, but I swear to you, it made her look like she descended straight from heaven.

It's a real shame that those type of styles are not encouraged more. She was like a 80 year old female "Carl". A real pioneer of style. Granted, not something that would suit me to wear for myself, but I have to give her props for her uniqueness.
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Re: A matter of evolution

Postby crfriend » Sun Jan 08, 2017 8:30 pm

moonshadow wrote:[...] I still believe we're overlooking the 800lb gorilla in the room... when it comes to evolution, we (men in skirts) are blazing our own trail, "evolving" in our own direction. Why do we spend so much time trying to decipher what's in style for women?

The question I posed was a response to another community member's absolute assertion that long skirts were "NOT acceptable office attire", and was asked not as an end, but rather as a stepping stone to possible future interpretation. If we can identify various dates, we can then apply what the local cultural context was at the time, and with that confluence attempt to figure out why a particular taste or path changed. The question was vastly more complex than it sounded -- and it does affect the notion of skirts on guys because if there's no rational reason for guys not to adopt skirts, then why hasn't it been taken up in the mainstream?
If it's all about what's in style, we'd be best to stick to kilts of various types and refrain from anything "womens".

Given what's "in style" now -- for both men and women -- I'd be in utter despair for visual stimulation. Maybe I've been working in the 'burbs for too long, but it's a wasteland out there.
Since my employer has strict rules on what's acceptable per gender [...]

I'm surprised they're allowed to get away with that, but that's the South. (Not that the Northeast doesn't have it's own share of problems, mind.)
MEANWHILE, whilst eating at a Captain D's in Bristol with Amber, an elderly, somewhat chubby woman was across the room. She looked to be in her 80's or 90's, and as far as her body goes, well past her prime, but she was wearing the most elegant gown I'd ever seen. A long white flowing gown type dress with golden trim. She had a small flower tied in her hair. The outfit looked somewhat biblical, and I wondered if she was one of those hard nosed religious types that would douse me with holy water and salt.

Magnificent! The proper approach would have been to walk over and comment, "Madam, you look wonderful." -- and then see what the rejoinder would have been. But this...
I was wearing one of my skirted outfits, I believe a floral skirt with a decorative top. As she walked by, she stopped, smiled at me, put her hand on my shoulder and said "you look very pretty today!". I smiled back at her and said "thanks- I was thinking the same about you!". She told me to have a blessed day and went on her way.

Is absolutely wonderful and is something I hope gets cherished for many a year (I was about to write "moon" there but changed my mind).
Granted, not something that would suit me to wear for myself, but I have to give her props for her uniqueness.

One of the things I find about the post-modern era is that individuality seems to be expected to be completely and absolutely repressed and hidden from view. This is unfortunate, and comes at a very high cost to society. For one thing, it's going to create one hell of a lot of neurotics; but, worse, it's creating a world in which imagination becomes unthinkable -- and that's a tragedy.
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Re: A matter of evolution

Postby crfriend » Mon Jan 09, 2017 1:26 am

On reflection...
Moonshadow wrote:She told me to have a blessed day and went on her way.

Do you suppose you may have brushed wings with another Wiccan? That's not a typical Christian line.
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Re: A matter of evolution

Postby moonshadow » Mon Jan 09, 2017 3:49 am

crfriend wrote:On reflection...
Moonshadow wrote:She told me to have a blessed day and went on her way.

Do you suppose you may have brushed wings with another Wiccan? That's not a typical Christian line.


I had never considered that. Looking back, it's certainly possible. The outfit she was wearing was certainly unorthodox of your typical American Christian, but would have been something worn by a high priestess. Although I would have never imagined it outside of a circle.

Then again, I've been known to wear my ceremonial garb out and about now and then just for fun, so again, certainly possible.

Regardless of her spiritual affiliations, she was a friendly soul, and it's always nice bumping into those in the real world... :)
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Re: A matter of evolution

Postby Uncle Al » Mon Jan 09, 2017 3:51 am

crfriend wrote:On reflection...That's not a typical Christian line.
That depends on where you're located.
Typical in the south and around where I live.

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