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Essaye Clothing For Women

History is littered with all sorts of weird, wonderful examples of men getting angry at women who prioritized fashion. Recently I began collecting them, fascinated by medieval preachers who considered wigs, painted faces, furs, and “wasteful sleeve-lengths, as well as womanly pride and passion” (as detailed by Christa Grössinger in her book Picturing Women in Late Medieval and Renaissance Art) to be sinful. Offering up an even better list of misdemeanors, the British King George V was a man who, according to his son, “disapproved of…painted fingernails, women who smoked in public, cocktails, frivolous hats, American jazz, and the growing habit of going away for week-ends.” For plenty, myself included, that sounds like a recipe for a pretty great time. In fact, throw in the "wasteful sleeve-lengths," and you’ve got yourself a proper party.

Several centuries later, John Wesley’s Sermon 88 (from 1786) was especially indignant when it came to “Brussels lace,” “elephantine hats,” and “bonnets.” He also thundered on about how “gay and costly apparel directly tends to create and inflame lust.” Change “gay and costly” to “short skirts and low-cut tops,” and we have a message that society still maintains: Women must, somehow, be responsible for the actions of men, too. That their clothes are not just an affront but also an invitation, and a possible harbinger of blame.

That, of course, is just a smattering of examples. There are myriad to pick from: criticism of everything from cosmetics to crinolines to anything slightly revealing. It’s easy to string together the funnier ones. You can’t help but snort with laughter (or despair) at the idea of an accessory being dangerously subversive, or sleeve lengths adding to society’s ailments. But too excessive, too scanty, too much, or too little, they all point to the same idea: Women who care about appearance must be vain, frivolous, excessive, conceited, stupid, air-headed, self-involved, insubstantial, attention-seeking...you pick the word — there are plenty.

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