Wednesday, June 11, 2014

It's Not a Square, Square World

The above image is couture, avant garde clothing. Each of these garments is creative and experimental. Unfortunately, each of the garments is also the price of a mid range Chevy car. This is how the head of our local Fashion museum put it, that couture remained roughly the same price as a mid range Chevy car for the entire time he chaired the department. These garments are not square. They are in a variety of other shapes because the human body is not square and thus square clothes do not flatter us unless we are built like super models or clothes' hangers (some say one and the same thing). Virtually everyone reading this entry cannot afford to spend on one outfit the same amount of money he or she spends on a car so we don't get these shapes unless we make them ourselves or find someone who can.

Have you ever felt like you are wearing a straight jacket with your clothing? This may not be as fanciful as you think. The straight jacket is based upon the square and rectangle for its design construction as is much of modern western clothing. As you especially put on your working and dress up clothes those rigid lines work to constrain you because you do not have a square or rectangular body.
Your natural body form is more rounded and circular, in most cases pear like. So many people are indeed trying to put a circle into a square. No wonder you feel squeezed.

Design has many geometric forms, left. One can use any of them as a basis for design in art work. Since those shapes have to go around the three dimensional human body, however, there are some practical limitations. For example, if you use the triangle or the parallelogram, when you go to join them all together, it will be more complicated than if you used a square or rectangle. You may have to use other shapes to pull it together.  You may have to use more pieces. This is not what one wants to hear if one is mass producing clothing.

So a big facet to this issue is that you no longer produce your clothing to suit you. Instead, a giant entity produces it for everyone so everyone has to fit themselves into them as best they can. Also, cloth comes off the loom in a rectangle so it is ready made to be cut in the same shape.

Early clothing, above, was largely wrapped and folded around the body. So one took rectangular cloth and applied it in a more circular motion to the body. Since there were no buttons, zippers, snaps, velcro, etc., these garments had to be tied off or sewn at some critical place in the folds. That was the only constraint in the garment. These people or people in their local lives made their garments. They started with the basic idea that they had to cut a hole in the top for the head, leave the bottom open for the legs, and allow for two moving appendage parts for the arms. Anything else only developed over time and experience. In the beginning, getting the cloth over you and covering the important parts up was all that was required. Small errors in construction were probably completely disregarded. They had the below shapes (for women) to put the cloth around and this remains the same today.

Nowadays we generally design everything in ready to wear for the woman who is the rectangle, above. 

Joan on Mad Men has an hourglass figure. She is constantly fighting against her clothing on the show because it is mass produced '60s clothing which is not made for an hourglass shape.

Early man used animal skins as well for clothing. Revolting as it may seem to us today, there were several reasons animal skins were used as early clothing. One huge factor was the warmth. We had no fur, they did. But equally as compelling is that they are shaped the same as we are: a torso, 4 limbs and a head. A bear was ideal because you could use the head as your hat and just wrap the rest of the shape around you. 

So early clothing developed organically, in a natural way, unaffected by the meddling of industry or technology. It followed the body rather than forced the body.

You may be heaving sighs of relief that we are past those primitive days and that you no longer have to make your clothing every step of the way, either from killing the animal or making the cloth as your starting points. But juxtapose these images from above with the below modern one of the modern technological production of clothing for us as ready to wear for the masses.

The above is your ready to wear clothing being made in Asia today. You own virtually no clothing not made this way unless you have ferreted out local craftspeople resources. Although one can't exactly call this inhumane treatment of workers, I think it is safe to say we are even more relieved we don't have to work there than about not having to kill the bear.

When you look at the above industry image, is it even surprising that the clothing which results from it is not creative? How could we expect creativity to blossom in such an environment? That has always been the problem with mechanized mass production. Although it is a highly effective way of producing mass goods for large numbers of people at an affordable price, that is all that it is good at accomplishing. Many workers when they lost these jobs in America, missed the wages and benefits, which were quite good, but they did not miss the work. 

There is nothing keeping us from buying a length of cloth, cutting the holes in it for head and arms and then doing whatever in the heck we want with that cloth as our garment.  There are women doing that online, above, and posting a variety of results to Pinterest here.

Some of those results are shown above. There are probably some errors on those clothes but so what? I would prefer seeing the errors because at least the clothes would go back to being different and original. As long as you can get your arms, legs and head through the garment's holes and it doesn't completely fall apart on you, it will do, especially as your leisure wear. You can experiment with living in other than a square garment world.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for another thoroughly enjoyable, enlightening, and entertaining entry. You've got full support for your surgery tomorrow--keep us posted!