There are a lot of annoying things about being a woman, like periods, childbirth and not being able to play basketball in a way that keeps spectators awake. But near the top of the list has got to be buying clothes.
I know one way to fix it is just to be ballsy and wear men’s clothes, and that’s a bold choice. But you take a social hit for wearing “masculine” clothes, and most women don’t want to take that hit. So they go to buy clothes made specifically “for women,” and generally find a set of the most impractical, low-quality, high-maintenance crap that a sweatshop can make.
Here are a few of the many, many awful things about the clothes that manufacturers want women to wear:
#7. The Material Is Too Thin
Go through any women’s clothes section and put your hand inside all the shirts and dresses and see if you can see it. (If you are a man, try to make sure no one is looking first.) About 50 percent of the time, you are going to get a pretty good view of your hand. And you don’t have to go to a fancy boutique; this holds true for my neighborhood Target.
That means if a girl wears just that shirt, you are going to see her bra, or even boobs, which I’m sure sounds exciting and positive to many men, but violates workplace and school dress codes, as well as many public decency laws. Also, these are clothes for all women of all ages, not just young, attractive women.
This isn’t a mistake. The solution is supposed to be layering, which has really caught on in recent years. All of these stores also sell plenty of tank tops, camisoles and plain form-fitting T-shirts, sometimes dedicating entire sections to clothes specifically designed for use in layering. Catalog photos will often show girls wearing three or more layers.
I can’t prove they do this deliberately to make women buy more pieces of clothing, but once you found you could sell this concept to people, why wouldn’t you? Someone who used to buy one shirt is now going to buy three from you. And you get to use less material.
On top of that, super-thin cloth isn’t very durable, and its evil cousin, the lacy sweater with huge holes, easily catches and tears in a washing machine. So you get to spend even more money replacing them more often or dry cleaning them.
#6. Fake Pockets or No Pockets
One thing I think a lot of men take for granted is pockets. It seems like men always have pockets. They’re a requirement in men’s pants, men’s coats always have functional pockets and I guess even men’s prison jumpsuits must have them, since I hear about people smuggling goods into prison all the time.
Women’s clothing manufacturers, on the other hand, seem to believe women can’t be trusted with pockets. Something like 99 percent of dresses have no pockets at all, and the more formal you get, the more likely a women’s coat or pants pocket is going to be a fake, decorative pocket.
I know the arguments — “But women’s clothes are so carefully cut and tailored. If you put anything in a pocket, it would bulge and look bad!” That’s bullshit. I just went to the store with my bridesmaids and picked out some bridesmaids’ dresses with pockets.
Sure, there will be unsightly bulges if they put too much in their pockets, but the solution isn’t to take them away — the solution is to trust women to have the common sense to not put a bag of rocks in their pocket. These pockets are just fine for carrying a key or some cash or credit cards, and it’s stupid to not give anyone that option because some idiot might try to put, I don’t know, night-vision goggles or a piece of cake in their pocket.
But it’s OK, because instead of functional pockets, we get a ton of decorative pockets, as well as numerous other nonfunctional decorations, like extra buttons, and buckles, and flaps. Look at these ridiculous boots.
Sure has a lot of buckles and stitching and all that, I bet these must be complex to put on. Oh wait.
It’s just one zipper up the inside.
The only possible conclusion is that Rob “Pouches” Liefeld moonlights as a women’s clothing designer in his spare time.
#5. Too Cold
Another problem is that women’s clothes are too damn cold. Part of it is the thinness of much of the material, as mentioned before, but no matter how thick the material, many, many styles involve increasing exposure, like dipped necklines, three-quarter sleeves or skirts and dresses.
It can be easy to chalk this up just to women who dress “provocatively,” but the truth is that a fairly normal, unprovocative women’s style exposes a lot more skin than men’s clothes. A below-knee skirt still exposes your shins. A three-quarter sleeve isn’t terribly provocative unless you have a thing for forearms. And necklines don’t need to go anywhere near the boobs to still be a lot wider than the average men’s neckline.
The obvious question, which might come up on a bunch of these points, is why we don’t just avoid these styles. It’s harder than it sounds, because they’re everywhere. It can be hard to find a shirt with a neckline between “look at my bust” and turtleneck, and when you do, it turns out to be a three-quarter sleeve. If you find a dress with full sleeves, they’ve pulled the hem up to your ass.
What makes this all worse is that this is almost inevitably the case with all “professional” styles that are OK to wear at the office, and women being cold at the office is an enormous, widespread workplace issue, as I’ve covered before.
I don’t think colder clothing is the cause, as bundled-up women complain of the cold just as much. I think it’s just adding insult to injury that they’re already feeling cold, and that there is no “professional”-looking outfit that will let them bundle up properly without looking like they are in a Christmas special.
#4. Arbitrary Clothing Sizes
Men’s pants sizes are logical and come in measurements of at least waist size, and often inseam, too. Women’s pants sizes, and clothing sizes in general, are meaningless, arbitrary numbers that come, as far as I can tell, from having kittens bat around a 20-sided die.
This isn’t just a recent trend. Women’s clothing manufacturers have been making up sizes as far back as sizes have existed. According to one fashion historian, a 32-inch bust would have come out to a size 14 in a 1937 Sears catalog, while being labeled a size 8 in 1967, and coming down to a size 0 in today’s terms.
Even today, you apparently inflate and deflate like a balloon when you go from brand to brand, according to their sizes. A woman who is size 6 at American Eagle might be a 0 at Ann Taylor, as mentioned in the above article.
Obviously they’re pandering here, trying to flatter women by making them sound thinner with a skinny-sounding number, because when you make people feel good, they buy things. As long as the market keeps rewarding for it, they’ll keep doing it, so I guess there’s no hope for making women’s sizes any easier to buy.
On the other hand, if we can’t make things easier for women, apparently they are making things harder for men these days by doing the same thing with their pants. According to Esquire, various brands of men’s pants labeled as having a “36-inch waist” actually had waistlines ranging from 36 to 41 inches (Old Navy was the fattest liar). In an era where action heroes can no longer sport beer bellies (John Wayne, young Captain Kirk), I guess men need flattery about their waistlines, too.
In attempting equality, I would have preferred making pants-buying easier and more consistent for everybody instead of making it suck for everybody but I guess that’s the way they decided to go.
#3. There’s No Such Thing as a “Regular” T-Shirt
Men like to use T-shirts as billboards to show everyone what their favorite band, or team, or joke is, and when they see a T-shirt with the perfect saying on it, they just need to pick a size and buy it. Women also like to make similar statements with T-shirts, but it’s not that easy.
Women’s torsos can be a myriad of different shapes, not just for obvious reasons (boobs), but for waist-to-hip ratio and torso length as well. And women’s clothes, while not all skintight, are expected to be at least semi-fitted — to at least tuck in somewhat below the bust.
The fit isn’t just about bust size, but how far down the boobs are as well. As such, you can find something that fits your bust size but expects them to be lower/higher than they are, or it can fit both of those things, but be too short for your long torso.
So the end result is that if you find, say, a Dethklok women’s T-shirt with the perfect, most metal design, odds are that size small will cut off above your belly button and size large will fit two of you, or you’ll have to bind your chest to wear it, or some other mismatch. Or even worse, they’ve put a weird V-neck on it or freakishly short sleeves, or some other attempt at making it “fashionable” and “feminine.”
You can buy a men’s shirt instead, but if you have any kind of figure, it will either hang like a tent or be too snug on one end of the hourglass or the other.
The end result of all this is that because of the good cut, I end up wearing my World of Warcraft T-shirts a lot even though I don’t play the game anymore and am honestly a little embarrassed.
#2. Clothes That Need Instructions
One thing I’m pretty sure men don’t have to ask when clothes shopping is, “Is this supposed to be a long shirt, or a short dress?” This is a common question for many women. If you’re at a department store, you might be lucky enough to see it printed on the price tag, but if not, good luck. Other pieces of clothing that can be confused are tube tops and short skirts, leg warmers and arm warmers, and whether something is supposed to be pajamas or not.
Even if you technically know what something is, like a wrap sweater, that doesn’t mean you know how to wear it. If you didn’t know anything about wrap sweaters, how would you think you’re supposed to wear this?
#1. There’s No Such Thing as “Regular” Clothes
“Well, sure, all that might be a problem if you are always shopping for fashionable, fancy clothes,” you might say. “You should just go to a regular store and buy normal, not-fancy clothes.” The problem is that they’ve almost stopped making normal, not-fancy clothes.
Remember Gap? It used to be known as a store where you could buy dependable, boring staples like jeans, sweatshirts and plain T-shirts. If anyone remembers that Gap, they wouldn’t recognize it today. Looking for a nice, regular long-sleeve shirt? How about an upside-down drawstring garbage bag with a giant V cut into the neckline?
The problem is that women’s fashion has to change every year, preferably to some type of clothes that haven’t existed before, because the economic model of women’s clothes depends on at least a certain group of women buying new clothes every year, which they are less likely to do if the fashions haven’t changed.
Unfortunately, all the good styles have already been invented, which means that in order to come out with something that’s never been done before, it has to be retarded and look bad on most women. Sometimes they can be lazy and bring back an old style, like with the recent ’80s revival, but designers do put their own stamp on it to make it technically new, and usually more ugly and inconvenient (a fine feat with ’80s wear). Making the material thinner is always a great trick.
And for some reason, more and more staid, dependable, “regular” clothes stores like Gap and Target are trying to capture the “fashionable” market by carrying more of these stupid short-lived fad trends and less of the timeless, washable styles. When I go in to replace my leggings or skirt, all I find are goddamned jeggings and bubble skirts, which must have been created on a dare because nobody looks good in them.