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.”

W H Auden: "But in my arms till break of day / Let the living creature lie. / Mortal, guilty, but to me/ The entirely beautiful."

Will Self: “To attempt to write seriously is always, I feel, to fail – the disjunction between my beautifully sonorous, accurate and painfully affecting mental content, and the leaden, halting sentences on the page always seems a dreadful falling short. It is this failure – a ceaseless threnody keening through the writing mind – that dominates my working life, just as an overweening sense of not having loved with enough depth or recklessness or tenderness dominates my personal one.”

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."

Art Spiegelman: "You know words in a way are hitting you on the left side of your brain, music and visual arts hit on the right side of the brain, so the idea is to pummel you, to send you from left brain to right brain and back until you're as unbalanced as I am."

विलास सारंग: "संदर्भ कुठलेही असोत, संस्कृत, इंग्रजी, बुद्धिवादी, तांत्रिक, इतिहासाचे, खगोलशास्त्राचे, आधुनिक पदार्थविज्ञानाचे, शिवकालीन व पेशवाईतील बखरीचे, अगणित ज्ञानक्षेत्रांचे, अशा वैविध्यपूर्ण ज्ञानावर लेखन- विशेषत: कवितालेखन- उभं राहत."

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?