G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

Shel Silverstein : “Talked my head off Worked my tail off Cried my eyes out Walked my feet off Sang my heart out So you see, There’s really not much left of me.” ~

Martin Amis: “Gogol is funny, Tolstoy in his merciless clarity is funny, and Dostoyevsky, funnily enough, is very funny indeed; moreover, the final generation of Russian literature, before it was destroyed by Lenin and Stalin, remained emphatically comic — Bunin, Bely, Bulgakov, Zamyatin. The novel is comic because life is comic (until the inevitable tragedy of the fifth act);...”

Werner Herzog: “We are surrounded by worn-out, banal, useless and exhausted images, limping and dragging themselves behind the rest of our cultural evolution.”

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Justin E.H. Smith: “One should of course take seriously serious efforts to improve society. But when these efforts fail, in whole or in part, it is only humor that offers redemption. So far, human expectations have always been strained, and have always come, give or take a bit, to nothing. In this respect reality itself has the form of a joke, and humor the force of truth.”

विलास सारंग: "… . . 1000 नंतर ज्या प्रकारची संस्कृती रुढ झाली , त्यामध्ये साधारणत्व विश्वात्मकता हे गुण प्राय: लुप्त झाले...आपली संस्कृती अकाली विश्वात्मक साधारणतेला मुकली आहे."

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Why Do Women Have No Pockets and Other Such Questions

Julia Felsentha, 'Why clothing sizes make no sense', Slate, December 28 2012:

 "If your clothes are made-to-measure—as they were in an earlier era, particularly for wealthy women—there’s no need for a standard set of sizes...And as wealthy women began to purchase premade clothing, pressure mounted to ensure that it fit in a consistent way.  

The ready-to-wear sizing system that existed prior to the ‘40s was first developed for menswear. Scholars have found evidence of standardized men’s sizing as far back as the Revolutionary War. By the War of 1812, the Army was in the practice of holding stocks of ready-made uniforms sized according to a single measurement, of the chest—based on the assumption that you could deduce from it a proportional understanding of the rest of a man’s body. So, when manufacturers in the early 20th century began to produce women’s clothing, they based women’s sizes exclusively on a single measurement: the bust.
The only problem? Bust measurements on their own are not particularly accurate indicators of a woman’s size or of the rest of her proportions. As we all know, some small women have very large breasts, and some large women have very small ones. This sizing conundrum was particularly irksome to the Mail Order Association of America, which was well aware by the late 1930s that women often returned clothing because of poor fit...

...Women’s sizes were derived from bust size—with all other measurements based on the proportions of an hourglass figure—"

My wife's cousin's engagement took place in the last week of December 2012.

Cousin's mother's blouse- even a simple sleeveless affair- and not a designer one to be worn on  the occasion-  was a big deal.

To make sure there was no goof up on that front, she got a trial blouse stitched by a tailor in our area. It came out perfect. Since he passed the test, he was given the 'real' thing. Every once concerned was happy and confident. And why not?

It was screwed up big time! The lady said she had never seen a worse blouse in her life! 

In the end though all was sorted out amicably and every one that mattered looked pretty in the pictures and videos. I stuffed myself with Veg and Panir  Manchurian and generally avoided photographers until a mandatory picture.

I am so tired of listening to these 'evil tailor stories' now because they seem to happen all the time.

On the other hand, the last time I got my trouser or shirt stitched was in the last century. [It was not always the case though. I still remember:  we were to catch a morning train (Deccan Express) for Pune from Miraj- then metre gauge- in 1965 to attend my mother's brother's wedding. My father, my brother and I were at the tailor previous night after 8 PM- then very late hour-  waiting for our clothes to delivered. I still remember my exasperation!]

I wonder why tailoring of women's blouse remains such a fickle art and it has always been so since my childhood.

One oft-heard female Marathi expression then was "शिंप्याने ब्लाऊज बिघडवला!" (tailor spoiled the blouse!) I don't think it has changed much.






















Artist: Victoria Roberts, The New Yorker, 17 September 2001

Once upon a time I couldn't live without four pockets to my attire.

Once, in academic year 1973-74, I stuffed my khaki half-pants pockets with the school tiffin during the break (मधली सुट्टी) of thirty minutes so that I could go play Kabaddi (कबड्डी). I think some of my friends were mildly disgusted once they realised that I had put thick Maharashtrian  pancakes (घावन) in my pocket!  Even today, when I share that story with my son and wife, they shriek at the thought! And I still don't regret what I did.

Therefore, I could never understand why women have no pockets. How can they afford not to? 

Paul Johnson tried to answer it on June 4 2011:

"...The question takes us into the murkier depths of the sex war as well as the arcana of sartorial history. In the 19th century the skills of the Savile Row tailors devised a male suit that has remained standard for over 100 years, giving its owner 17 pockets in which to distribute all his keys, watch, notecase, money, matches, hanky etc without seriously altering his shape....

...Women did not even have the help of sensible underclothes. They wore petticoats, up to a dozen at a time. What were then called drawers, later knickers, were denied to all except prostitutes and dancers, who needed to show their legs. Drawers for respectable women did not begin to come in until about the time the papacy dropped its Opposition to trousers. If women were denied trousers, why could not they be given pockets?This question is discussed in an ingenious article in a recent issue of Victorian Studies. In “Form and Deformity: the Trouble with Victorian Pockets”, the American scholar C.T. Matthews discusses 19th-century writers who analysed fashions with a view to drawing social lessons. The record shows that the absence of pockets was a huge disadvantage to females and one reason why male superiority was so steadfastly maintained...

...Instead there was the handbag, which evolved in the late 19th century out of the traditional workbag, in which ladies kept their sewing and knitting. The point about the handbag was that it was and is external to the body, and has to be carried. This increases female dependence and limits freedom of action. Moreover, whereas pockets are distributed about the person with a view to differentiated purposes, so that a man knows where everything is and can find it instantly, a bag is exactly that, a thing into which every needful article is indiscriminately thrown, so that much time is wasted in searching, quite apart from the risk of mislaying the bag itself...

...The 20th century brought women, in theory, trousers and pockets. But a clothes industry run by men, and a fashion trade dominated by homosexuals, ensured this made little difference. Tight jeans will not accommodate useful pockets. I remember Christian Dior saying to me in 1954: “Men have pockets to keep things in, women for decoration”. Handbags have become much more important in women’s appearance and practical life than they were in the 19th century, and relatively more expensive. Bigger, too. And in my observation, women spend a much greater proportion of their lives looking for mislaid objects than men do..."

Staying on women's clothing: Until I read Alice Rawsthorn's review of Robert H. Frank's book "The Economic Naturalist" in July 2007, I had not even noticed that women button their clothes from the left, and men from the right! Let alone knowing the reason.

Surprise, surprise even my wife didn't know it.

 "Take the positioning of buttons on clothes. Why are they on the right for men, and the left for women, especially since, for the 90 percent of the population who are right-handed, it's much easier to do up buttons from the right? It's because when buttons were introduced in the 17th century, they were affordable only by the wealthy. As rich men then dressed themselves, they did so from the right; whereas wealthy women were dressed by servants, who preferred to button them up from the left. The custom continues today, even though fewer women are dressed by servants, because there has been no incentive for the fashion industry to change it."

Artist : Garrett Price, The New Yorker, 22 Nov 1947

Who is he? Servant, husband or lover?  

2 comments:

एक रेघ said...

Dear Aniruddha,

Your blog has in a strange way become a partial documentation of the journey a man's brain. This man has his past (a Marathi boy from Miraj) in his pants-pockets and present (...) in shirt-pocket. The quirky and comic outlook keeps this brain vibrant. That is why probably even after six years, this blog looks fresh to a reader like me who is following it for four years.

A media student can probably do a dissertation by studying this blog. I cannot specify this here but this can be studied.

For me as a reader this blog keeps on enriching my brain. Either it directly puts something in my head (like this post) or directs me to look in to something which I have not explored earlier.

Sometimes it makes me argue. Like in a post you said: ''Most educated young Indians now are bilingual or trilingual. (My son's generation-b 1994- is more comfortable reading English than Marathi or Hindi.)'' Sorry, I disagree. You should have defined what you meant by the word 'generation' here.

Sometimes this blog makes me introspect. Like in a post on Dr. S. V. Ketkar and Wikipedia you have stressed Ketkar's lacuna of not believing in collaborative intelligence!

I have strayed too away from the subject of this post, so I must stop now.

Thanks.

-

aniruddha g. kulkarni said...

Thanks Ek Regh.

Did you say freshness?...I want nothing more...

I agree...that "lingual" argument was weak...I knew it while writing it... Now you have caught me trousers (appropriate for this post!) down...I will rewrite that argument one day...

Your other point on Ketkar...I think not just Ketkar even Queen's Encyclopedia Britannica did not realise it and hence will soon be extinct just like the British empire...But Ketkar was one of the greatest Indians of 20th century and nothing takes that away from him...My point is while he showed great zeal and skills marketing it, he could have looked at "collaboration" more carefully...

best,