Though the modern feminist movement is well into middle age, the fashion industry, from designers to dry cleaners, still hasn’t caught up. It continues to screw over its primary customers – women.
One example is the sizing system for women’s clothes versus men’s. Men get clear, informative labels on their clothes listing waist and inseam and collar and arm measurements in inches. And men’s clothes come in different combinations of these measurements. A man can be unusually proportioned and still be able to buy clothes without even trying them on. In contrast, women are stuck with the dress size system, which differs with every designer and presumes that every woman has the same proportions. Woe to you if you don’t: you are cursed to spend many hours of fruitless shopping until you finally find one pair of jeans that sort of fits. Not to mention feeling like a hideous freak because “normal” clothes don’t fit your body.
What is the rationale for this tyrannical sizing system? Tradition? A belief that women should have the “right” proportions, and if they don’t, they should do what it takes to get them? Taking for granted that women are willing to spend more time shopping than men, so a stupid sizing system won’t deter them from buying? Or maybe the industry keeps this up just to save money by producing only the regular dress sizes, rather than the different combinations of measurements that men get.
Another example of fashion’s neglect of women: watches. Though I take a lot of crap for it, I admit that I can read a digital watch more quickly and accurately than analog. That is not a problem when I’m in the market for a sporty and casual digital watch. But just try to find a dressy digital watch proportioned for women. Seriously, go ahead and try.
I came up with a bunch of excuses for the inane sizing system for women’s clothes, but I can’t come up with a single reason for the watch thing. It can’t be that watch designers haven’t noticed that many professionals are women; mayhap one or two of the watch designers themselves are women. So why not create new products guaranteed to appeal to a broad customer base? Are they actively trying not to make more money?
And now for the dry cleaners. They charge more to launder women’s shirts than men’s. They charge more to dry clean women’s suits than men’s. They claim the problem is that the machines they use are sized for men, so women’s smaller clothes have to be handled by hand. Like that makes sense. They have had decades to make smaller machines, or adjustable machines, or whatever equipment they need to clean smaller clothes. Hell, they probably already have it and are just keeping it on the down low. I think they are probably worse than the designers and manufacturers: they aren’t just being stupid or traditional or whatever; they are actively choosing to fleece women. (I had such high hopes for that Dryel stuff that was supposed to let you dry clean your own clothes in your dryer. If only it worked.)
I’d love to jump up and down for a boycott of clothing and cleaners, but I suspect that it wouldn’t catch on. And anyway it wouldn’t exactly advance feminism if we started showing up at work wearing just our shoes and maybe a jaunty necklace. Rather, what we have here is a promising business opportunity for some entrepreneur who wants to create and market a line of women’s clothes that are sensibly and diversely sized and accessorized with slim, elegant, digital watches. I’d love to help, but I can’t make the meetings because I don’t know what time it is.