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Why are men's clothing so boring?

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#1
Ifat Glassman

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While women have many types of wear, with varying designs, men only have two types: "sport elegant" (which means a nice pair of pants, or jeans and a nice shirt, ither a T-shirt, tight or loose, or a shirt with a colar...) and for special events (or for some, for work) a suit and a tie. Now, I don't see what's so pretty about that. A tie, other than the fact that it seems to be a device for suffocation, is a boring little stripe of fabric that hung on the clothes and have no apparent purpose.
I think the male figure can be better emphasized in other types of clothing, like the ones that (don't laugh) the show "Hercules" has sometimes (and no I am not refering to the shirt of hercules himself :lol: !!. more like something of the king of thieves, if anyone knows what I'm talking about...)

On the other hand, women have a variety of beautiful clothes to emphasize their figure (and some of them even over-emphasize it...).

I wonder what is the cause of this tremendouse difference?
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#2
JMeganSnow

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Culture, pretty much. In some cultures men dress far more gaudily than women; to Western eyes, they may appear significantly effeminate. Not to mention the (to my eyes extremely odd) African culture where it's considered attractive if a man can roll his eyes in different directions . . .

I happen to like frill-less clothing on men and women, and I don't go in for emphasizing sexual characteristics on anyone. (As far as I'm concerned, when you're dressed in that fashion you're not wearing clothing, you're wearing a costume.) However, if someone has, for instance, good muscles, an athletic body, a trim waist, an elegant neck, graceful wrists and legs, by all means, display them to advantage; they become sexually attractive through the expedient of NOT thrusting them in someone's face.

Subtlety! Sometimes, the more exquisitly understated something is, the more interesting it is.
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#3
Inspector

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Now, I don't see what's so pretty about that.


As well you shouldn't! Men aren't supposed to be pretty. ;)

and I don't go in for emphasizing sexual characteristics on anyone.


So, no codpieces? :lol:

#4
Vladimir Berkov

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While women have many types of wear, with varying designs, men only have two types: "sport elegant" (which means a nice pair of pants, or jeans and a nice shirt, ither a T-shirt, tight or loose, or a shirt with a colar...) and for special events (or for some, for work) a suit and a tie. Now, I don't see what's so pretty about that. A tie, other than the fact that it seems to be a device for suffocation, is a boring little stripe of fabric that hung on the clothes and have no apparent purpose.
I think the male figure can be better emphasized in other types of clothing, like the ones that (don't laugh) the show "Hercules" has sometimes (and no I am not refering to the shirt of hercules himself ;) !!. more like something of the king of thieves, if anyone knows what I'm talking about...)

On the other hand, women have a variety of beautiful clothes to emphasize their figure (and some of them even over-emphasize it...).

I wonder what is the cause of this tremendouse difference?



I wouldn't call mens clothing boring at all!

Most men, of course, dress terribly, as do most women. But that is not some inherent fault in the clothing options available to men, but rather in the fact that modern society places no value either sex dressing well. From what I have seen most men don't even know how to tie a tie properly, much less coordinate pattern, color and cloth between 4 or 5 different articles of clothing.

But for the man with an interest in clothes and style, mens clothing offers a wide array of possibilities.

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Edited by Vladimir Berkov, 18 July 2006 - 08:51 PM.


#5
JASKN

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Subtlety! Sometimes, the more exquisitly understated something is, the more interesting it is.

You speak the truth!
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#6
Capitalism Forever

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As well you shouldn't! Men aren't supposed to be pretty. ;)

BINGO! Men are supposed to be handsome, which does not primarily depend on variety in dressing.

Now this is not to say that men should dress sloppily; you should never be sloppy in anything you do. It's just that clothing is only a background for a man's life. A background should be nice and elegant and worthy of the object of focus in the foreground--but it should not eclipse it.

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#7
Bold Standard

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From what I have seen most men don't even know how to tie a tie properly, much less coordinate pattern, color and cloth between 4 or 5 different articles of clothing.


"A man who can't tie his own cravat isn't likely to put a noose around the Pimpernel's neck, is he?" ;)
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#8
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Not to mention the (to my eyes extremely odd) African culture where it's considered attractive if a man can roll his eyes in different directions . . .

Um, really? ;)

[where is the 'smilie' with rolling eyes, by the way?]

#9
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BINGO! Men are supposed to be handsome, which does not primarily depend on variety in dressing.

Now this is not to say that men should dress sloppily; you should never be sloppy in anything you do. It's just that clothing is only a background for a man's life. A background should be nice and elegant and worthy of the object of focus in the foreground--but it should not eclipse it.

Unfortunately your definition of "handsome" is the next man's definition of "pretty."

So women should dress sloppily and make clothing something other than a background for life? Clothing should eclipse a woman?
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#10
LaszloWalrus

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I don't find men's formal wear boring at all. Morning suits, I think, are very interesting. I think the main problem is that most men (and women, for that matter) dress horribly.

#11
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I think the main problem is that most men (and women, for that matter) dress horribly.


The reason I think is because style, glamor and grandeur in fashion, like virtually every other aspect of our popular culture, collapsed into a nihilistic sewer during the 1960s and 1970s and has only partially recovered in the decades since.

Look at old photos from the 1930s. Both men and women dressed very attractively as a rule - and this included ordinary people who were less than affluent and at a time when the country was in the middle of a very severe economic depression and when clothing was much more expensive (after adjusting for factors such as inflation) than it is today.

There is no rational excuse for the population of today to be less nicely dressed than that of our grandparents - clothes cost a lot more less to make, technology has given us a wider variety of fabrics to choose from and we have had several decades that could have been used for aesthetic innovations had the culture been open to such innovation.

I doubt that the average male back in the 1930s gave much more attention to fashion than does the average man today. The difference is the cultural standards in which a person is brought up in and the sort of reception one would get when attending certain functions in certain types of clothing.

Back in April, a few friends and I got together in Houston over a weekend. On Sunday morning we went downtown to look at the old skyscrapers and came across a cathedral. One of my friends is a devout Catholic and, seeing that mass was about to start, suggested that he attend the service while the rest of us looked at buildings so he wouldn't have to leave us early to make the two hour drive back home to attend evening mass as he had planned. I thought the church was a rather handsome building so, after the service was over and we walked back to pick him up, I asked my friend if it would be possible for me to see the inside of the building. The church is right down the street from a baseball stadium and the streets were filled with people about to attend a game. What absolutely blew my mind was that the people attending church were only marginally better dressed than the people who were attending a sporting event. As soon as I walked inside the door I saw as sign asking people not to wear shorts - and it said that they had loaner pants available for men and wrap around skirts available for ladies. I was absolutely shocked - this was a bloody cathedral, for goodness sakes. That they would have to put up such a sign in the first place and maintain loaner clothing speaks volumes about our popular culture's "anything goes" attitude. Apparently some people have lost all vestiges of the notion of context appropriate clothing - and that one of the many functions of fashion is to demonstrate respect towards others people and the places and institutions one visits by making one's self look presentable and attractive. I have since learned that the only place where the practice of dressing up for church is still a big deal is in black churches.

The biggest reason so many people dress poorly today is because of the low public expectations. Somebody in the 1930s who showed up at any sort of public event dressed as a slob or wearing clothes designed to shock and offend (as the now mainstream hippie clothes of the 1960s were designed to do) would have faced ridicule or perhaps have even been kicked out of the establishment. Today, "anything goes" so people rarely bother. I admit that, to some degree, I have fallen into this as well. If I am spending the day around the house, I rarely bother to shave and wear old and sometimes stained clothing. Nothing wrong with that - especially if I have dirty work to do. But if I need to run to the store to get something I need, be it a grocery store or the electronics store, I don't bother to shower, shave and change. I just go into those establishments looking like a slob - and even so, I am still not the worst dressed person.

The one bit of good news today is that, despite the fact that "anything goes" the nihilism of the 1960s and 1970s has given away to a sort of pseudo return of traditional styles. I am not a fan of tradition per se - but in an age where the alleged aesthetic innovators are nihilists, the offerings based on traditions originating in a better era are usually the better alternative if that is all that one has to choose from.

The company I work for is very casual - there are people in the department I run who wear tee-shirts and shorts to work every day. If I dressed up to work, people would become alarmed and think that I was seeking another job. So I usually wear khakis and a polo shirt with a belt and leather shoes. There is no reason why casual clothes have to be unattractive, sloppy or even expensive. I have some polo shirts which I think are very nice looking that I picked up for 5 or 6 dollars in places such as Wal-mart and Target which I think look every bit as good as the ones I paid significantly more for elsewhere.

And another bit of good news is that there exists a small but growing subculture of younger people who have a strong appreciation for the sense of style and elegance which was once a commonplace part of our popular culture and, for a while, seemed destined to become as obsolete as powdered wigs. For examples, click here.. Perhaps it will catch on and eventually enable us to experience a renaissance in this area.
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#12
Capitalism Forever

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Unfortunately your definition of "handsome" is the next man's definition of "pretty."

LOL, I've heard the one about one man's terrorist being another's freedom fighter, but this one is new. :confused: Could you clarify what you mean by this, and why it matters?

So women should dress sloppily

Hell no! It's interesting you should surmise this from a sentence that says (emphasis added):

Now this is not to say that men should dress sloppily; you should never be sloppy in anything you do.

If I had said, "a man should never be sloppy in anything he does," your misunderstanding would have been more understandable, but with the "you," addressed to a mixed company...

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#13
Capitalism Forever

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where is the 'smilie' with rolling eyes, by the way?

Type this:
:rolleyes:
To get this:
:confused:

Although he wouldn't be considered attractive because he only rolls his eyes in one direction ... and just half a rotation at that. :lol:

Pessimist: "Oh no, the glass is half empty, we're doomed!"
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Objectivist: "Let me refill that."


#14
Dismuke

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A tie, other than the fact that it seems to be a device for suffocation.....


If that is your experience with ties, the cause is probably with your shirt collar being too small. While there is a difference between wearing a tie and not wearing one and it might seem a bit odd for one who is not used wearing them, it should not be an especially uncomfortable experience unless it happens to be very hot.
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#15
Capitalism Forever

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The company I work for is very casual - there are people in the department I run who wear tee-shirts and shorts to work every day.

Unfortunately, such a company wouldn't even count as unusually casual here in Hungary. Where I work, you'll hear an occasional remark of amusement and slight disapproval about people coming to work in shorts in the summer, but T-shirts are totally commonplace.

Strangely enough, I am typically much better dressed on the weekends than on weekdays, even though I hardly meet anyone on weekends. But that's when I work on my own software, and I've got to show respect for that !

A couple of weeks ago, I went to the hairdresser on a Sunday. She asked me, with a tinge of consternation in her tone, "You haven't been working, have you?" I was probably her only male client that day with a non-boorish appearance! (As a mitigating circumstance, I was carrying a laptop with me too ... I guess for some people, computer necessarily = work ! :confused:)

Something similar happened last year in London too, during the local Objectivist conference there. This time, the mitigating circumstances were a bit more numerous: a tie, non-loosened (it was around midnight on a Saturday!), a handbag, and a pen stuck in my shirt pocket. I had got the pen on the flight along with some questionnaire they had given to the passengers, and I liked it very much--it was inexpensive plastic, but had a very elegant design and a beautiful, shiny blue color--so I carried it with me in my pocket and didn't feel an urge to remove it even for dinner. Now after dinner, when I was going back to my room, a lady saw me in the elevator, and asked me that same question: "You haven't been working, have you?" :lol: :lol:

Pessimist: "Oh no, the glass is half empty, we're doomed!"
Optimist: "How nice, it's half full, let us be grateful for this gift!"
Objectivist: "Let me refill that."


#16
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LOL, I've heard the one about one man's terrorist being another's freedom fighter, but this one is new. :confused: Could you clarify what you mean by this, and why it matters?

Well, you're the one who agreed with Inspector's post in the first place. My point is that your idea of what men are supposed to look like is highly person-specific and will vary from what I think, or what anyone else thinks. There are lots of different standards by which to judge any person's clothing, and each of them has a certain context. One person may prefer the tradition-heavy (and mostly ridiculous) suit-and-tie ensemble because that is what has been around forever. Another person may wear khakis and polos because that is what everyone at work wears right now. As Dismuke illustrated, even your reasons for copying your co-workers may be different than another man's. And all of these preferences will influence what someone thinks someone else should wear in order to meet certain standards of etiquette, such as work, funeral, recreation, casual, around-the-house attire, etc.

Personally, I place a lot of importance on fashion, but not a lot of importance. I like clothes, but I am not willing to follow (basically costume) trends, and I will not sacrifice comfort to look a certain way. Who could guess why people find ties attractive, including myself, by I still think they are ridiculous because they serve no purpose.

I also think someone's physical shape is a thousand times more important than the clothes he chooses to wear.


Edit: Also, Capitalism Forever, you did not answer my question (and I don't think it was my fault for misunderstanding that you were referring to both men and women for that singular sentence of your post). I'll state it a little differently anyway: Why is a man's purpose different than a woman's in his choice of apparel? And what exactly do you think the fundamental difference is?

Here's what I think the purpose for clothing one's self is for both sexes: Foremost, shelter from the elements. After that, emphasize the best qualities that your body has to offer, with the best human physique you can think of as your standard. And if you look hella good, go naked.

Edited by JASKN, 19 July 2006 - 01:34 PM.

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#17
Vladimir Berkov

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Who could guess why people find ties attractive, including myself, by I still think they are ridiculous because they serve no purpose.


Ties do serve a purpose, however. Perhaps you just meant they serve only an aethetic purpose, not a utilitarian one. For instance, wearing a sweater because it is cold outside is utilitarian. Wearing a sweater which is green is aethetic.

Ties serve the aethetic purpose of adding color to an ensemble, largely to draw attention to the face-area. Also they serve to stress the vertical line of the body, adding to the appearance of height. Certain ties also visually signify things to others, like belonging to a certain military regiment, school or club.

Saying clothing is ridiculous because it serves an aethetic purpose means everybody might just as well wear grey sweatpants all of the time.

Of course, aethetics is essential to clothing and not at all ridiculous, just as aethetics is essential to architecture. In each case, the skill is blending the utilitarian requirements with the aethetic goal in a way which maximizes both.

#18
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Look at old photos from the 1930s. Both men and women dressed very attractively as a rule - and this included ordinary people who were less than affluent and at a time when the country was in the middle of a very severe economic depression and when clothing was much more expensive (after adjusting for factors such as inflation) than it is today.


At least part of this is a result of the fact that photos were MUCH MUCH more expensive and difficult to TAKE in the 1930's, so a picture of people that weren't specifically dressed up was rare. The photos of people that I've seen from the 1930's that were of people in their work clothes bear a very strong resemblance to pictures of me in my work clothes, except that working-class people back then tended not to be as overfed as yours truly.

There is no rational excuse for the population of today to be less nicely dressed than that of our grandparents - clothes cost a lot more less to make, technology has given us a wider variety of fabrics to choose from and we have had several decades that could have been used for aesthetic innovations had the culture been open to such innovation.


Oh bullshit. Let's look at the list of reasons why I wear old blue jeans with holes in them and worn, faded shirts:

Why should I spend an hour doing my face and hair when I'm only going to put on scrubs and sweat it all off at work? Why should I spend hundreds of dollars to have decent clothing when I'd much rather spend that same money paying off my car?! I make well under two thousand dollars a month, new clothes of any kind are a luxury, (I've needed a new pair of tennis shoes for three months) and last time I checked a single pair of decent pants was over $50. Oh, and there's no such thing as women's clothing that fits me, btw; I can only hope that the various irregularities cancel each other out so it doesn't actually hurt to wear it. Either that, or it looks like a tent.

I only wear clothes for maybe 2 hours a day, and even then no one sees them except the other women in the locker room. The shoes I wear have to be able to take blood drips and peroxide splashes and the occasional dropped glass jar, not to mention having enough traction to keep me from breaking my arm by falling over again.

I don't go out on weekends because I don't care to bother; if I'm outside, I'm doing yard work, should I be wearing nylons and high heels? I wear them to weddings, funerals, and job interviews, where lesser clothing would be completely inappropriate. Actually, I can't wear high heels at all, period, because my ankles swell too much, but I have some fairly nice flat sandals. Should I be wearing these to go grocery shopping so that I can ruin them by accidentally dripping chicken yuck on them? No thank you.

None of these constitute rational reasons to dress down? What planet are you on, anyway?

I'm fastidious about my hygiene, not my appearance, and that suits me perfectly (it's also one of the reasons I prefer my job to a tidy desk job, it also pays more); if you imagine I'm here to make it possible for you to fantasize that you live in a society where no one has to do any heavy work, guess what: you are SOL.
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Saying clothing is ridiculous because it serves an aethetic purpose means everybody might just as well wear grey sweatpants all of the time.

I did not mean to imply that aesthetics serve no purpose. In fact I hold aesthetics in very high esteem. However, I think they should be based on utilitarian needs first. A tie has never served a utilitarian purpose, and so if you want to look taller or leaner, I think there are better ways to accomplish that besides hanging a piece of cloth from the center of your neck. It is an unnecessary nuisance.

As to uniforms, you are talking about something different entirely. I think they are more like costumes than fashion or personal apparel (although they sometimes intertwine).
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#20
Dismuke

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None of these constitute rational reasons to dress down? What planet are you on, anyway?


Why the hostility and defensiveness? I am afraid the tone of your posting is surprising - and utterly unjustified.

OF COURSE there are rational reasons to dress down. Context is everything. You are reading evaluations into my posting which simply are not there.

And, yes, people in the 1930s did indeed wear grubby work clothes - when they were working. But they didn't wear those clothes to theatres, or to church or even to ball games.

Also, most people in the 1930s DID have cameras and they took LOTS of snapshots - and if you wish to challenge me on this, I can post more pictures than you probably care to look at to prove my point about how ordinary people dressed back then as I happen to be quite knowledgeable about that era.

Edited by Dismuke, 19 July 2006 - 01:51 PM.

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#21
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A tie has never served a utilitarian purpose, and so if you want to look taller or leaner, I think there are better ways to accomplish that besides hanging a piece of cloth from the center of your neck. It is an unnecessary nuisance.


What is the utlitarian purpose of lipstick, eye shadow and makeup in general? Would you say it would be better if the ladies never wore it on grounds that it is an unnecessary nuisance? Would you like to live in such a world?

What is the uliltarian purpose of ear rings - or of the rings people wear on their fingers? In fact, both can be dangerous as if they get caught in machinery or something, can cause one to lose a finger or an ear.

Wouldn't it be more utilitarian if men and women alike shaved their heads during the hot summer months? Why don't the ladies and most men do so? Why do they spend tons of money on hair dyes, gels and even wigs and hair pieces?

How is wearing a tie any different than any of the above? If there is no difference, then shouldn't they be done away with for the exact same reasons? Why is it undesirable for something to exist and be valued only for its aesthetic function?
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#22
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[I think we need to be clear what is boring in this case. Read the rest of this post.]

I think a rational man cares about his looks, so he wouldn't wear something boring by choice. He'd at least make an attempt to get into positive, good-looking range.

That said, I've encountered one case personally, where the colors I was wearing were found to be boring. From what I was able to understand, this kind of color (very light grey?) and light yellow/grey short were found boring. However, the structure of clothes were not found to be boring. So, what does "boring" refer to? Colors, clothes' design, or both at the same time?

#23
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What is the utlitarian purpose of lipstick, eye shadow and makeup in general? Would you say it would be better if the ladies never wore it on grounds that it is an unnecessary nuisance? Would you like to live in such a world? [...]

How is wearing a tie any different than any of the above? If there is no difference, then shouldn't they be done away with for the exact same reasons? Why is it undesirable for something to exist and be valued only for its aesthetic function?

You're asking the wrong guy about makeup on women, because I think makeup is a horrible, unnecessary nuisance. But I have no vested interest in making a woman's face appear smoother, or whatever makeup is supposed to accomplish. I think makeup is a poor substitute for the real thing, which in most cases is youth and in all others good genes. Same thing with plastic surgery. Why don't men wear makeup? Why is it ok for a man's face to show its age but not a woman's?

To sum up, yes, I would like to live in a world where the aesthetic justification for things is utilitarian. Have you looked at fashion magazines lately? They actually profess to champion a return to the "glamor" which you think should be everyone's aim in dressing themselves. What is this glamor? It's tacky, overstuffed, over-jewelryd, formless decoration for the sake of decoration. I hate it.

I haven't given it much thought, but I don't think something can exist solely for its aesthetic appeal.
"I made my fortune on the seas, and in the mines, and in the cattle wars of the old frontier. I made it by being tougher than the toughies, and smarter than the smarties. And I made it SQUARE!" - Mr. Scrooge McDuck

#24
Inspector

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I am not a fan of tradition per se - but in an age where the alleged aesthetic innovators are nihilists, the offerings based on traditions originating in a better era are usually the better alternative if that is all that one has to choose from.


One problem with tradition (among many) is that it is unprepared to deal with changing circumstances. In the 1930's, there weren't too many people living in Arizona, so there just aren't any options for someone who wants to dress well but also be well adapted to a climate that is so HOT.

As a note to everone in general: You guys should watch What Not To Wear. They understand well the concept of dressing to fit and accentuate the positive of one's body (while being modest!).

#25
Inspector

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Personally, I place a lot of importance on fashion, but not a lot of importance.


LOL, could you clarify this?


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