Summer girl

X chromosomes

Jenny de Reus

Whenever I come to the part in Ecclesiastes where the Teacher says, “there is nothing new under the sun,” I immediately think of fashion. In fact, the Teacher might have just finished watching a gaggle of women making their way to wherever it was most fashionable to go in those days. Perhaps they were stylishly attired in the latest silk trousers (or whatever the Paris Hilton of the time was wearing). The Teacher might have reflected that these women were all slaves to fashion and that, where its capricious tendencies lurched, its minions would blindly follow.

If he did, and if they were, not much has changed. We are all slaves to fashion in the sense that, if we can’t sew, we can only wear what we buy. Many of us females remember that not-so-far-off time when there was no such thing as a Tshirt long enough to reach the top of your jeans – everyone went around tugging them down till they stretched out of shape and you had to buy another. Alternatively, you could buy stretchy bands of material (I can’t remember what they were called) to put around your stomach to hide it.

Or take pointy-toed shoes, for example. You can call them “witchy shoes” as much as you like, but when celebrities, business women and your friends were all wearing them, you probably capitulated in the end and bought a pair (or six).

Of course, there are girls and women who are determined to be different, and who want to wear the opposite of what everyone else is wearing. However, that means that what you wear is still dictated by what everyone else is wearing, only in a negative sense. There is also the significant risk that whatever unfashionable style you have created for yourself will soon become fashionable.

But all this doesn’t answer the question of why girls dress the way they do. There are probably as many answers to this as there are pairs of X chromosomes. Some of the younger of the species just want to fit in and buy the same boots their friends buy, and put the same streaks in their hair as everyone in their class. Usually, however, this larval stage is brief, and the young ladies in question move on to develop their own sense of style. It’s a glorious dawn, the realisation that not everyone looks great in skinny-legged jeans and chunky jewellery.

Most women seem to make use of the knowledge that how you dress has a huge impact on the impression you create. In the executive world, a well-dressed woman can represent success and power. But I’d guess that even more women dress to make themselves feel good. Regardless of what she does for a job, a woman who knows she looks good will feel better about herself than one who is secretly afraid that her shoes don’t look quite right with her skirt.

Jenny de Reus is studying in Christchurch and likes grapefruit, poetry, and her husband.