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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

Classic Oscar Fashion

An Observation Upon Watching The Oscars. I don’t generally do the Red Carpet preshow bit. But, it was a rainy afternoon and they started at two o’clock as I was packing up the TV room for a remodel and there was nothing else on TV to play background to my chore. So, the Oscar red carpet it was.

Handsome men in formal dress - they looked familiar. I mean, I have been catching a look at the men on the red carpet since I was ten, the year when we got a TV (I will be seventy-five my next birthday). Let’s face it, male formal dress has evolved little in more than a century. It's nearly always black with the rare navy blue – classy. Or the occasional pink, baby blue, or white – yucky in my humble opinion. Of course there was the year we were treated to the perfection of Sean Connery in a kilt. But the majority of men, even movie star types, don’t have the knees to carry kilts off.

Somewhere along the way over the last century or two the haberdashers of the world found the general cut and style to flatter the male and hide the bulk - a punny choice of words - of a man’s girth, disguise a lack of shoulders, camouflage his small stature. In effect, they make the best of him in the most comfortable to wear way. Oh sure, the length of the jacket has morphed an inch up or down, lapels have gotten wide and then thin and then wide again and appeared more than once in satin. Velvet has gone in and out of style it is true. Even ties have varied, but I would wager one could zap one of those well turned out gentlemen from the 2017 Oscars red carpet back a hundred years and take him to dinner anywhere. Zap him back a hundred and fifty years and take him to the opera or the Royal Albert and no one would fault his dress.

Flat comfortable shoes, a well cut, well fit, and comfortable suit that does not require gluing on. Stays, or shivering in the cold, or an uncomfortable six or seven hours no man would put up with. Now this is an inequality that needs talking about. I paused with a stack of books in hand to listen to a tall, gorgeous woman. She must have been a clothes critic I’d say by the stream of judgmental statements that flowed forth every time the camera returned to her after some actress had been interviewed. “She should be showing more skin.” She waved a hand across her own well-endowed and mostly bare bosom. “The long sleeves, the high neck, not even a split in the skirt. Too plain for the event.” I thought the lush red dress looked great. The bodice was fitted perfectly, and the skirt swung nicely as she walked. This Hollywood starlet owned the dress, it did not own her. More to the point, it looked comfortable even though it was raining there.

All over that red carpet women walked, some more gracefully than others, in tall heels that are never comfortable for more than the twenty minutes it takes to decide to buy them. And the dresses… I am no prude, but I do wonder how women-kind who fought to uncover and swim in a tank suit or a bikini for the sake of comfort and safety allow themselves to be paraded out in styles that appear to be designed to show the most skin in the most itchy, irritating, glued down, impossible to sit in, and for the most part unflattering fashions possible? Were there some very attractive, possibly comfy dresses to be seen, of course there were. But there were far too many designers who are still objectifying women, dressing women for men while men are dressing for themselves.

Of course there is big money in changing hemlines and necklines, sleeves, and skirt shapes. Women come in all sizes and shapes, some of us do not look our best glued in a deep décolletage, stuffed in a ball gown left over from the seventies, or trying to angle a skinny leg through a hip high split. Isn’t it time for the designers to come up with more truly wearable clothes for the ladies? Isn’t it time we shouted the men down and insisted upon it?

Marlene Dietrich and Fay Dunaway have in past years worn a tuxedo – In protest? Hinting? You know they looked good. Granted, a red carpet covered in tuxedo wearing men and women would look like the premier of a penguin movie. However, a red carpet covered in woman being exploited by the fashion industry and the film industry is kind of sad. We may have come a long way baby, but wow, do we we still have a long way to go.

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