Recycled fashions

I don’t usually comment on fashion. I don’t know much about it, and I prefer to keep it that way. But I’m going to make an exception. And yes, this is somewhat in follow-up to my post on Monday.

Duchess Kate and Keira Knightly have made the news in recent days for *gasp* wearing the same dress more than once. Knightly is a bit more controversial, in that hers is her “second wedding dress”, ie. not the actual wedding gown, but a more casual dress to wear at post-ceremony festivities.

What amazes me is that this is news. When was it decided that celebrities can’t wear the same clothes more than once? It’s bad enough these poor rich people have to shell out thousands of dollars for an outfit in the first place. But to then insist they must wear them only once (and then what? Landfill? Donation? Burn? Storage?) and never again is just ridiculous, not to mention wasteful.

Granted, I do know plenty of non-celebrities who feel the same way about re-wearing clothes. There is a similar tradition around prom dresses, too. Why is this, exactly? My high school girlfriend had some stunning dresses. I wouldn’t have minded seeing her wear them more than once.

Besides, from what I can  tell, it’s women who force this standard upon themselves. I’ve not noticed any male celebrity making headlines for wearing the same tuxedo or suit more than once. Maybe it’s just because we set the standard so low that people are just glad we dress up. If so, then ‘high five’, guys! We rock! Let’s keep those standards low and sensible! Or perhaps it’s just that men are not expected to be fashion conscious. Again, somewhere someone set that expectation, and the rest of us men are indeed grateful!

But for what it’s worth, kudos to Kate and Keira for challenging that “conventional wisdom” (seriously, it’s really conventionalized foolishness!) on behalf of women everywhere. These are beautiful women, whose attractiveness is in no way diminished by the lack of newness in their outfits. We know they have money. They don’t need to prove it by throwing out every outfit after one wearing. Wouldn’t it be better if they used that money for something practical? A charity, perhaps? Greening their lifestyle? Campaign financing? Adopting a shelter dog? Why should their money have to go toward overpriced cloth they can never wear again?

I’ve said it before: It’s not the men who are forcing women into impractical fashions and expensive cosmetic maintenance. It’s the women who are pressuring the women into it. They’re the only ones who care. Of course men appreciate women who look nice, but I suspect we’re much more open minded about what looks good (witness the number of Country songs about their women looking so good in old jeans and a t-shirt). Women’s fashion is self-inflicted oppression.

Don’t believe me? Try this article on for size.

Seriously? That’s the second thing Ms. Guglielmetti notices? I didn’t notice it at all. I really had to look close to see it even after the writer called it to my attention. I posted the same picture on Monday and only one out of five commentors noticed the chapped lips. And I was inviting them to take notice, purposely heightening their awareness.

“… it’s always fascinating to spot even the tiniest non-perfect detail on an A-list celeb…” Always fascinating to whom? And why, exactly? I can guarantee no man I know was talking about this “non-perfect detail” around the water-cooler.

“…reassuring, in a way. See, even Keira Knightley doesn’t always have flawless lipstick on!” Huh? Is there anyone who seriously believed she does? Why would anyone expect her lipstick to always be flawless? You can almost hear the triumphant crowing tones in Ms. Guglielmetti’s voice when reading this.

As much as I like to think otherwise, men are not immune to this either. No, we’re not so likely to care whether Tom Cruise’s tuxedo is Armani or Gucci, or whether he’s worn it before, there is still a “male ideal” being used to sell us stuff we don’t need. My spam box full of male-enhancement products and my Facebook feed full of body-building products and techniques is evidence of that. But I don’t recall men dog-piling on other men for appearance-related sins the way women seem to. “That Tom Brady pic is photo-shopped! It’s got to be! No one can have such muscle-tone during the NFL off-season! He’s just trying to make the rest of us feel bad!” Yeah, right. Maybe fromPerez Hilton perhaps, but …well, I’ll leave it there.

But let’s face it. Much damage is done by the celeb-watching, fashion, beauty, and fitness mags and tv shows. Likewise Madison Avenue and Hollywood, who spend billions selling us an ideal and making us feel inadequate.  Men and women have been finding one another attractive and finding one another for millenia without their help, thank you very much.

How I wish we could toss out the whole appearance-conscious industrial complex and just be ourselves. All that money that could be better spent actually improving the world instead of dangling an unrealistic standard just out of our reach in order to make us buy one more product, one more procedure. No more running people down for their insignificant or imagined imperfections, celebrity or otherwise. No more outfit spotters counting wearings. Not likely to happen. It’s human nature to compete, keep score. We’ve got to have rules so we can know who wins.

I hope more and more celebrities follow Ms. Knightly’s and Duchess Catherine’s leads and move the world toward a more sensible fashion expectation. Considering the furor over some recent photos of the post-baby bodies of a few models, we’ve got a long way to go. Can we back off and let people just be themselves? The world will be a better place for it. If a few snarky celeb watchers and fashion reviewers get put out of work, well…that’s a good first step.

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