If left to me, my wife would wear sweatpants and a t-shirt every day because she is hard to dress. Thanks to the pandemic, and much to her chagrin, sweatpants and T’s are default clothing choices for most people, including myself. Assuming we return to a normal lifestyle, I’ll have to face the fact that I have a terrible time dealing with dressing her. I’m not talking about dressing up for parties complete with hair-styling and makeup, that’s another level of complexity that I leave to her girlfriends.
Dressing Shouldn’t be so Difficult
What I’m complaining about is just the everyday dressing. Oh, and I should note that I’m not trying to channel my inner Jerry Seinfeld, though I will take it as a compliment if you make the comparison. Why do women’s clothes have to be so difficult? I understand women are generally curvier than men but that doesn’t require creating clothing contraptions that defy logic. There are so many examples, and I will get to many of them, but let’s start with one of my favorites — the sports bra.
In June 2019, I wrote about the difficulties men face caring for women, and one section covered dressing. I related a story about my high school job unpacking bras for my friend’s dad’s lingerie company. I still consider myself more knowledgeable than the average guy about the typical bra — but sports bras make me want to pull my hair out. On the surface, they seem like a good idea, and I gravitated toward them to avoid dealing with normal bra complexity, but then when you try to put it on or worse yet, take it off without trapping her head or snapping her arm off, you need an engineering degree to succeed. Sports bras remind me of the old Chinese Finger Trap — looks are deceiving.
Standards Would be Nice
My biggest pet peeve is that women’s clothing has a tendency to violate traditional (albeit male) standards for closures. According to Smithsonian Magazine, there are rational explanations for why women’s shirt button opposite men’s shirts or women’s zippers close opposite men’s zippers. I even found that J has shorts that close opposite what I expect. PEOPLE! It’s 2020, not the Victorian age, and the majority of people don’t have a “lady” or a “valet.” This is not Downton Abbey!
I know that some of these issues aggravate women as well, which may be why I often hear that women prefer men’s clothes for day to day wear. Just to be fair, I find that there are times when women’s clothes are preferable given their greater variety (not that I make a habit out of wearing women’s clothes). Back in the 1980s, I bought a lightweight silk jacket reminiscent of Member’s Only jackets like the one modeled here by Zac Efron. Unbeknownst to me, I had bought a women’s jacket that zippered opposite a men’s jacket. I spent the next 10 years hearing, “Do you know you’re wearing a women’s jacket?”
Yes. Yes I know!
One Last Thing
Women commonly complain that it costs more to tailor and dry clean/launder their clothes than for men’s clothes. As with the earlier problems discussed, part of the issue appears to be caused by the cost of the effort involved in working with smaller items, and part is caused by — well, just because. Thankfully, we don’t deal with this often as I do all the laundering and ironing and thanks again to the pandemic, there isn’t much ironing to be done. I could go on a separate rant about how ironing boards and irons are better suited to men’s clothes but I’ll save that for another time (or never).
My main takeaway from dealing with dressing J over the past few years is that I wish I had played with dolls more often when I was a child. My lack of dexterity, understanding of women’s clothing dynamics, and patience unnecessarily add frustration to my life as a caregiver, though I suspect it entertains J a bit when she sees me getting all caught up in some crazy clothes challenge. I fully support the right of women to demand clothing equality even if that means men’s clothes need to adapt to new standards. One thing that I haven’t done yet is to investigate the growing marketplace for adaptive clothes — clothes suited for people with disabilities. A Google search for “adaptive clothing” reveals hundreds of sources of specialized clothing for women and men. Maybe that’s my next step. Until then, I’ll just live in fear of having to get J into a bathing suit!
Have you tried any adaptive clothing? Do you have any clothing malfunction stories to tell? I’d love to hear them!