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Thursday, 8 July 2021

A dressing-down: a rant.

 The work suit has had its day, apparently. Shahidha Bari, professor at the London School of Fashion, says this is a good thing.

“Think of the implicit force in the words buttons, braces, zips, cuffs and ties,' she says. 'Even in its verb forms – the ‘collaring’ and ‘buttonholing’, for instance, that mean to entrap or corner – the language of the suit suppresses and restrains.”


photo of some terrifyingly forceful people by Harry Walker

...I'm not sure that the word button has much implicit force. For instance, a button-nose isn't scary, and some people are even said to be as cute as a button

The buttonhole (that is, the buttonhole in the lapel. You know, the one where there's no corresponding button to go into it) belongs to the formal jacket, though not necessarily to the suit. And other buttonholes get everywhere: even jeans have buttonholes.

I don't know quite what Professor Bari would like men to wear to the office, but I'm afraid that whatever it is it is likely to have a zip and a collar. 

Braces are seldom worn nowadays, and suits don't have cuffs (I know they sometimes do in America, but we call them turn-ups here in England. Anyway, whatever you call them, they're out of date). 

The tie is so called, I would imagine, because it is...tied. I'll agree that ties are, and might sound, oppressive; but that's the opposite of forceful. 

There are several reasons why a man's formal work clothes are impractical, expensive, and uncomfortable, but I don't think the language of it's constituent parts has much to do with anything.

After all, a suit suits people, doesn't it.

The clue's in the name.

Word To Use Today: suit. This word comes from the Old French sieute, a set of things, from sivre, which means to follow.

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