An Open Letter To Women’s Wear Designers By Tisca Chopra

(On behalf of women who actually wear clothes and not just pose in them)

We must accept that when it comes to attire, as females of the species, we have not created the best reputation as possessors of wisdom. We will buy, wear and do almost anything, so long as the word fashionable is prefixed. Fashion victims, they call us. And with good reason. Think Armadillo shoes, hobble skirts, stirrup pants and conical bras.

We may have, inadvertently, led manufacturers/designers into believing that we are ok with just about anything, so long as we see a person half our width and double our height look amazing in it. What we don’t know is that there is great lighting, expert makeup and hair, and of course Photoshop involved in their seduction of us. So, on behalf of the average woman I felt, it might be time to address some truly grave concerns that affect us deeply, day to day. The ginormous popularity of this blog made me think it best to list these key concerns here:

Clothes. Bags. Shoes.

Some may say that we are being superficial and talking about trivialities. But dressing up is serious business. 3 trillion dollars serious. It accounts for 2% of the world’s GDP. So, it’s shocking really, that there is no conversation between those who think up women’s clothes and those that wear them. Don’t corporates have conclaves, conferences and conventions in deluxe hotels at exotic locations, for lesser reasons?

Grouse #1

What would be the point of making a wash and care label from a material that could survive a nuclear holocaust? In the event of a tragedy, I have visions of billions of wash and care labels littering the Earth, while the clothes that once bore them have turned into radioactive ash.

I do wonder if manufacturers realize that most will use a simple domestic scissor to cut the label and not an industrial laser. And why are small books printed on labels? If besides manufacturing garments they have a deep secret desire to turn author, they must. They should try self-publishing. Just not on my skirt.

Why can’t a label simply read?

Dry Clean (at a good laundry)

The label should be attached to my garment in a way that after I have finished reading the wash and care instructions, I should not have to carry those instructions around everywhere I go. After all, what are the chances that I will take the garment off during a pee break from a meeting, quickly find a washing machine, set it to forty five degrees and wait semi naked for forty minutes, while its on spin cycle?

It stands to reason that the woman who afforded herself that garment would also have the brains to remember basic care instructions. They should just have a sticker with a small picture of the garment, which we can stick on the inside of our cupboard and just like that, we are done.

Grouse #2

The old adage ‘no pain, no gain’ is quite literal when it comes to heels.

Any fashionista knows that the taller one is, the better any outfit looks. Many a girl will add a liberal two inches to her height, if asked. Long legs will take you far. And that’s not just simple physics, it’s simply fashion.

Ergo, heels become a necessary evil. Footwear manufacturers are all too aware of the star performers in their shoe line-up, so design elements are always focused on the impractical, teetering stilettoes. Stilettos have wings, bows, chains and spirals. Someone even did a mock lipstick for a heel. I think it was Alberto Guardiani. But for some reason the designers won’t focus on putting a cushion near the ball of the foot. And that’s the part that makes women leave parties.

Don’t believe me?

The wise girl at FitFlop, Marcia Kilgore, sold 4.8 million pairs of FitFlops in less than two years. The real moolah is in the mommy heel. Walking on sunshine is the feeling we want, not walking on pins. So, if someone can put kid leather inside a stiletto and a cushion under the ball of the foot, this will be the making of the next Fortune 500 Company.

Grouse #3

While RTI (right to information) is the flavor of the season, is privacy a thing of the past? I think we should draw the line when it comes to our undergarments. When one pays top dollar to buy an exquisite silk shirt that turns out to have the integrity of tracing paper, it’s just not right.

Life on the red carpet with popping flashbulbs is a fantasy for many, but it turns into a nightmare for actresses who don’t have stylists with 20/20 + X-ray vision. After many a public debacle under flashlights and having been pulled up on this very blog for it, I have developed the foolproof coin test. While sorely tempted to buy another delicate, delicious white shirt, I always place a coin under it near a strong light source. If I can still tell its country of origin then that garment does not make it home with me.

Grouse #4

Here’s a strange story I heard. The bag manufacturing mafia called the less powerful pocket manufacturing mafia to their office. There was a real problem, a direct conflict of interest. If women get decent pockets on their clothes, it seems, they won’t buy that many bags. Women love pockets and besides, a pocket is way cheaper than a bag. The bag guys wanted to nip the problem in the bud before the pocket guys got too rich, too arrogant.

This is how that meeting went.

Bag maker’s rep: “Look here you pocket makers, no more pockets on women’s clothes. Is that clear?”
Pocket makers rep: “But kind sir, we have a families… we need the money, the work.’
Bag maker rep (leaning back to consult with the others): “Mmm… ok. So make pockets. But make sure nothing fits in them. Make them shallow. Put them in odd places. Or simply make them fake!” (laughs at his own brilliance)
Pocket maker rep: “Sir, but the women will have no place to put their things in, they will be handicapped. How will they cope?”
Bag Makers Rep. “They are women. They always cope. Look at us! We have made bags the size of small suitcases and they have carried them. We have put heavy horse bits on their bags and they have carried them. We have made them in shapes like Fish, Poodles and Shells- with no straps. So you don’t worry yourself. Run along now. And remember – fake pockets!”
(Pocket guy stumbles out, braving the lusty winds, mumbling “No pockets he says, no pockets.”)

Grouse #5

It is clear the fashion frat does not like boobs. In their heads, their ideal woman has a slight convexity on the upper chest, the kind that can be held up by silicon pads. This leads to the gaping button issue. The buttons on shirts are placed in such a manner that the most convex area of the chest creates a large gape in the shirt, giving a clear side view of the nipple area. Is this deliberate, I wonder?

The millions of women constantly tugging at their shirt, pulling them down and trying to make the gape go away has not pinched the designers’ conscience. Lose weight, wear a minimizer or a cami and grow up, seems to be their message. Fashion is not for your convenience. You are wearing our art. Be flat and uncomplaining, as any canvas ought to be.

This list of complaints is by no means conclusive, so feel free to add your own grouses. Think, the tight white jean, the Perspex bootie, the backless top that needs stick on silicon pads and the pant made in parachute material, for wear in India.

So while designers/manufacturers acknowledge some of the issues stated above, they should respect that we are gymming, starving, waxing and devouring the latest offerings from multiple fashion weeks in a bid to wear what they serve up each season. But our very real battles continue. We fight every single day with armpit cleavage, the FUPA, backfat and bye bye arms. And as always gravity.

Don’t add to our woes, have a heart !