Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Feminine Differential - Part 1

"Are you wearing lady clothes?"

No, the regional manager insisted: His suit fits him, and he is a man, therefore, "at the very least, it's bisexual." What made it clear, finally, that his "power suit" was indeed also a women's suit was that the buttons of its jacket were "on the wrong side."

On one of early explorations into the land of femininity if discover that women’s clothing was manufactured differently than men’s.  I am not talking chiffon and lace that we love so much but the mundane button. I am sure we have all noticed it, however most who only dress as only one gender would never know that there is a subtle difference.  There are other differences that I am curious about but today here is what I found on the shirt vs blouse button question.

The Button Differential is a relic of an old tradition that we have ported into the contemporary world.

The Atlantic  Mar 27, 2015

Megan Garber is a staff writer at The Atlantic, covering culture.

The most reasonable theory, though, has to do with the fact that, when clothing conventions were becoming standardized, many women did not dress themselves. Wealthy women, in particular. And since buttons were expensive, with intricately fastened clothing doubling as luxury items, the conventions about them were decided by the wealthy. Servants were often required to help rich ladies get into and out of their elaborately buttoned dresses—and servants, like everyone else, were most commonly right-handed.

And then! Fashions working the way they do—trickling down, generally speaking, from the wealthy to the less so—the right-over-left design strategy remained even after dressing became a DIY affair. When buttons became easier to manufacture and apply to clothing, opening them up to mass consumption, the buttons remained on the left so the masses could mimic the style of the wealthy. (Culture also working the way it does, however, there were some who managed to make that economic convention about sexism. The 19th century sexologist Havelock Ellis used the button differential to argue that women were innately inferior to men in their motor capabilities—men being able dress themselves, he pointed out, and women requiring assistance to do so.)

I know of several  other Feminine  Differentials and will write more in future post.  Please comment any you can think of, either logical or illogical.     

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