Can someone tell me what is romantic or sexy about dipping your bell sleeve into the guacamole as you reach across the buffet table?
Or perhaps, dunking your over-the-wrist flounce sleeve into your cream of asparagus soup?
If this is a new diet fad, it’s working like a charm. Wear clothes that are pretty and dramatic but with sleeves so long that that one cannot eat without dragging them through the served food. At a recent retirement party, after unconsciously soaking the edge of my purple, extra wide lacy sleeve in my salad’s Caesar dressing, I refrained from attempting to eat anything else.
Articles on fashion in one publication after another insist that extra- long chiffon or lace sleeves are the answer to every woman’s prayer for her moment that shouts out, “Everybody, look at me.” In addition, dresses sporting such sleeves will, the articles continue, make the wearer feel not only modern and fashionable but also sensual and ultra-feminine.
I felt neither fashionable nor sexy as I left the dinner table with salad dressing dripping from my sleeve.
In all honesty, I recall wearing clothing simply for the sake of fashion, clothing which defied reason and practicality. As a beginning high school teacher, I wore mini-skirts. If I extended one arm to write on the blackboard, up went my skirt, and then down came my other arm to pull the skirt back into place. Problem resolved with dictated notes rather than board written ones. Not, I believe, a pedagogically sound solution.
Back then even my winter coat was short, ending several inches above my knees. My legs, covered only in sheer panty hose, froze as I stood on the outside subway platform at Queens Plaza. Inside the train, I always stood. Sitting required a tug of war with my coat to get it to cover my thighs.
As a college student, in imitation of the model Twiggy, I wore little girl clothes with high waists and puffed sleeves, sometimes accentuated with white knee socks and Mary Jane strapped shoes. What irony. Finally grown up and wearing “babydoll” clothes.
Over the years, I wore bras that were padded, ones that came to a point, and others that pushed up my small breasts to make me look Sophia Loren voluptuous. Every bra I ever owned hurt. Underwires dug into my flesh, straps left red welts on my shoulders, and my wrists ached after the daily struggle to get those horrid hook and eye clasps to meet and close securely.
As a young mother, I wore wooden platform shoes that prevented me from flexing my toes. An attempt at running in them led invariably to a twisted ankle or a fall. For formal events, I had silver three inch heels that I removed almost immediately after making my grand entrance so that I could dance without falling over.
I have worn plastic shoes which made my feet sweat and clogs which made quite a racket on wooden floors. Around the time Nancy Sinatra sang, “These Boots Are Made for Walking,” I often wore white Go-Go boots, at least until the vinyl material cracked so badly it pinched my skin. And then there were cowboy boots; prairie- inspired, front laced boots; and fur lined boots. Why? Certainly not because I was going to ride a horse, travel west in a covered wagon or trek across Siberia in December.
Last winter I saw high school girls walking to school in Tampa, Florida. All three were wearing short shorts, skimpy tank tops and fur lined Uggs. Come on. On that eighty degree day, weren’t their feet, ankles and lower calves hot and sweaty inside those boots? Weren’t they uncomfortable?
Of course they were. Just as uncomfortable as I once was when, awkwardly off balance in platform boots, I tried to navigate Times Square.
What slaves we woman are to the dictates of fashion.
And now designers ask us to wear long bell sleeves, bishop sleeves, ruffle sleeves, and layered sleeves, some of which actually extend past the finger tips. Why? To look like Cinderella? Or like real royalty, like Queen Elizabeth I?
Well, I think those particular gals had servants to cut their food, pierce it with tiny golden forks and place it directly into the open mouths of the hungry, long-sleeved nobles.
I don’t have that luxury.
I want to personally pile my plate high at the local Chinese buffet, the cocktail hour at my niece’s wedding, and the neighborhood holiday party.
I do not want to hear my granddaughter say, “Grandma, your sleeve is trailing in the gravy boat.” Or a waiter passing hors d oeuvres wail, “Lady, you knocked all the cocktail franks off my tray with your chic, soft and oh so feminine sleeves.”
And I do not want to give in yet again to an impractical and uncomfortable style that fits some designer’s vision of the fashionable woman.
Revolt, ladies. It’s time for the Statement Sleeves to go the way of the pointy bra, the vinyl Go-Go boots, and babydoll dresses.