Not To Be Trusted With Knives











{July 10, 2008}   I need a power suit

OK, maybe I don’t *really* need a power suit, but I feel in the mood for some new work clothes. I’ve worn all of my work clothes soooo many times and I’m kind of bored of them. Also, I’ve noticed that despite that fact that I own no fewer than 3 pairs of brown shoes1, I own a grand total of zero, nada, nilch in the way of brown skirts or pants. Or dresses.

And speaking of dresses, one of my co-workers was wearing a really funky dress yesterday and it made me realize that I don’t have any good work dresses. I have a few fancy dresses and a few summer dresses that are appropriate for, say, a walk on the beach. But nothing that is really suitable for business. No business dresses. And dresses are so handy because you only have to make one decision – “hey, I want to wear this dress” – without all the nonsense of having to pick a top and then *also* having to pick a bottom to go with the top. Which is also why a suit is good – when you pick the top, you are also automatically picking the bottom.

Oh yeah, and the pic of me? That’s from back when I won an award for my doctoral research on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Back when I had longer hair and fewer wrinkles. And I’m using that photo here because it shows the only suit that I own. The skirt of which is a bit too short to be all that comfortable. But at least it’s a suit.

Anyhoodle, the point of this whole posting is really to say that I need to get me to a consignment store, stat!

1I realize that this may sound a wee bit excessive, but they are three distinctly different types of shoes. One is a pair of flats, another a good solid pump, and the third a pair of strappy heels. So, really, they would all serve a different purpose, if only I had some brown skirts or pants to wear them with.

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Raul says:

You look ultra hot in this photo. Just sayin’



Kalev says:

Other than the hair, you look the same. Although normally you look taller because you are not standing next to a giantess.

I think it’d be weird for women to wear actual one-piece dresses to work. Having said that, I can’t remember if I have or haven’t seen women wear dresses to work. It’s odd. Dresses to me do not signal “work.” They signal formal but not the same type of formal as work.

As for the difficulty of picking bottoms and tops (ha ha), can’t one simply buy matching skirts and tops? I’m pretty sure they came up with that idea in the 1970s. Maybe earlier.



Beth says:

@Kalev – Are you thinking of like cocktail dresses and ballgowns? Because there are plenty of business-style dresses… I just don’t happen to own any. Like the dress that the person in the photo with me is wearing is the type of thing you could wear to work. Also, isn’t “one-piece dress” redundant? If it’s more than one piece, isn’t it no longer a dress?

As for matching tops and bottoms (I was wondering if anyone was going to catch that!) – wouldn’t that be a suit? Or something lame that my mom would wear?



Kalev says:

@Beth: no, I wasn’t thinking that elaborate but just that any dress seems overly femmy formal to me.

Plus, quit with the corrections. I said one-piece dress because a skirt is a two-piece dress to me. 😛 Like pants are 2-piece overalls. Geez.

The dress in the photo is WAAAAAY too fancy for work. Way way. It’s kinda over-fancy for the photo. Like she’s trying to show you up, which is just not cool.

Matching tops and bottoms: wouldn’t that be a skirt that had a matching top? Is that what a suit is to you? Because a suit to me includes pants and no skirt, for some reason. But if in your subjugated feminine worldview a suit has to consist of the patriarchally designated female uniform, well… 😛

I’m just throwing big faux-sociological words at you now so you stop badgering me with all these corrections, just so you know. Not that I suppose it will work.

Still, it is kinda frustrating that for women, they can’t wear a “suit” like a man; for them, it would be a “pantsuit,” right? Or is that “pant suit?” And pantsuits just have negative connotations, especially in the context of Hillary Clinton. Not that we are in that context, of course. But that’s who the term brings to my mind.

Women’s stuff always has to have modifiers. If I were a woman, that would piss me off. Like woman doctor and woman executive and woman yodeller.



Beth says:

@Kalev – Why would a suit be only pants, not a skirt? Isn’t what I’m wearing in the photo a suit? (Or is it a two-piece dress? =P)

And you are totally committing a strawperson argument by saying “if in your subjugated feminine worldview a suit has to consist of the patriarchally designated female uniform” because I never said that a women’s suit “has” include a skirt, I just said it could. Whereas you think it “has” to have pants and no skirt because you think only the male is normal and anything else is “other” and defective. You are soooo andronormative! =P

Also, I don’t have a huge problem with the modifier “pant” in “pantsuit” because in that case it is just being more specific, because there are two different types of suits (although really, we should then call the other a “skirtsuit”… and have you seen those horrible “dress shorts”? I supposed you could even have a “shortssuit”). Don’t you think the bigger sexist issue here is that men are not allowed to wear suits with skirts if they wanted?

And I don’t recall “pantsuits” having a negative connotation before Hilliary Clinton. In fact, I owned a “pantsuit” back before “pantsuits” became associated with HC.

I agree that adding the word “women” in front of nouns (such as “woman doctor” or “woman executive”) which suggests that it’s some sort of aberration for women to take on these roles, is annoying. I can’t believe people still do that. It happens the other way too, when men take on traditionally female roles, like “male nurse,” which would piss me off if I were a man…. also for some reason people tend to use “male” rather than “man”… and when you think about it “woman” shouldn’t really be used as an adjective… shouldn’t it be “female”?

At any rate, I don’t want a pantsuit. I want a suit with a skirt.



Demonweed says:

Alas, plenty of people still young enough to be working come from a background in which the pantsuit is some sort of aggressive feminist challenge to tradition. It was not so long ago that American courtrooms in some regions expected female attorneys to appear in skirts. There are probably very few people in the world who take unkindly to the idea of women in skirts, but far more than a few who judge pant suits to be informal regardless of how fine they might be. It may not be right, but nonetheless it is.

That said, not all differences between men and women are a function of patriarchy. Our skeletons and the distribution of various soft tissues create different shapes. Personally, I feel the aesthetic of skirts on the female form is much more pleasing than pant suits. Unless there is a comfort issue, I say skirt suits FTW. 😉



Kalev says:

You want a skirtsuit, you mean.

Also, with the “pant” in “pantsuit,” for men it’s just a suit, not a pantsuit, even though for men it always has pants. Unless maybe in Scotland. But who knows?

As for andronormativity… pshaw. Plus I’m pretty sure my argument isn’t a strawperson one, because that involves me making a really weak argument and then easily trashing it, whereas you claim my argument is inaccurate, not weak.

And honestly, a suit has pants. If it doens’t have pants, it’s not a suit: it’s a skirt or a dress. Or perhaps a flight attendant uniform (for women, I think the men wear pants). You are unfairly trying to feminise “suit” to claim it for your own gender by equalizing its applicability to both male and female attire, but really all you’re succeeding in doing is having the initially masculine word “suit” stand in for a non-gendered version of what it’s representing, which means you are trying to degender something by using the masculine form of the word, when in reality you should be championing the use of the word “suitess” to refer to female attire that involves a matching top and skirt.

Please don’t ever let Becki Ross see the above paragraph because I’m pretty sure she might have me banned for life from any feminist pursuits and I’m not sure she would appreciate the fact that I’m completely talking out of my ass (knowingly). And no, I did not actually assume a suit had to have pants because that was one of those parallel universe shifts I told you about.

So anyway, you’ll have to let me know how shopping for your suitess (or is that “suittette?”) goes.

In other news, yes, the use of “woman” instead of “female” as an unnecessary adjective to tack in front of conventionally male-associated professions really does bug me. I would much rather have a female doctor than a woman doctor because one assumes the woman doctor specialises in women, whereas a female doctor just happens to be female. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

And again: andronormative… pshaw.



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