Sunday, January 9, 2011

The "uniform" of today

(I found this picture on the internet - copyright is Vintage

I was waiting for Carol to arrive at the local coffee shop. With large floor to ceiling windows looking out into the mall, I watched as people went about shopping, stopping to chat and so on.   It suddenly occurred to me that women particularly have taken up a “uniform” in clothing which is becoming, if not already, dull and unimaginative, to the extent that femininity seems to be taking a back seat.
Apart from jeans and tee shirts, the majority of women are wearing hip length shirts usually in black - sometimes as a jacket over the ubiquitous tee shirt, with black pants. The more I looked, the more I saw the same.

I was recently talking with a group of women and they were recounting the years when their daughters were teenagers.  The daughters and their friends were complaining they no longer wanted to wear a school uniform when attending school/college. . “It wasn’t cool to look the same as everyone else”. It wasn’t fair that the school “made” them do so - they wanted to wear the clothes they chose. They got their own way.

Those daughters are now grown up and have teenagers of their own. But something strange has happened. No longer do they wear "choices". Those daughters are now wearing this “middle-aged” uniform of a black tee shirt and black pants. Not only around the house but when they go out, even to the cinema or theatre, having a BBQ or visiting neighbours. Always the same sort of outfit. Their entire wardrobe seems to be made up of black tee shirts and black pants. I mentioned this “uniform look” to the ladies in my group and they explained their daughters had more or less the same answer,   “Surely Mum, you can understand they’re more comfortable”

More comfortable than what? And just what does being comfortable have to do with wearing clothes that are flattering, affordable, more colourful and maybe even more practical than tee shirts and black pants?

If the choice of wearing colourful clothing was taken away from women and they were only left with black or white tee shirts and black pants,  they'd be screaming "we want choice".

Look, I’m not saying for one minute that black tee shirt and black pants aren't comfortable and practical, but let’s get a bigger perspective on “fashion”.   For what appears to have happened is that the choices gained made all those years ago have now been put to one side and a new "uniform" has taken over. You can see it in women of all ages - young (even tweens), adult and elderly women.

And when it comes to young and older business women of today, they all seem to be wearing black as well.  Now, don't get me wrong - I love black and I wear it often.  But I do play around with coloured accessories such as shoes, handbags, jewellery and contrast shirts - the black sets off the colours I wear.  But I wonder if a lot of women don't see the adventure in playing with colour and texture and design and style and fabric? Have a look around at the women in your shopping mall or coffee shop next time you go and see if you don’t agree with me.  At the same time have a look around your office and see what your colleagues are wearing.

.......© 2011 Leonie Stevens, Australia

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