.:ARS AROMATICA:.
"The most beautiful makeup for a woman is passion, but cosmetics are easier to buy."
                                                                                              —Yves Saint Laurent

Announcements
If you're new to this blog, then read our guides to the basics: Skin (Part I), Skin (Part II), The Supernatural, Color Theory I, Color Theory II, Eyes, and Brushes.

Also, check out the blogsale.


Contents
· Fashion Notes: In Her Shoes

Favored
Art Tattler
the glamourai
The Non-Blonde
Perfume Shrine
Lisa Eldridge
Garance Doré
Smitten Kitchen
Into The Gloss
Grain de Musc
Lacquerized
Res Pulchrae
Drivel About Frivol
The Selfish Seamstress
Killer Colours
Bois de Jasmin
Glossed In Translation
Jak and Jil
Toto Kaelo
Worship at the House of Blues
I Smell Therefore I Am
Food Wishes
The Natural Haven
Messy Wands
1000 Fragrances
Moving Image Source
Wondegondigo
The Emperor's Old Clothes
M. Guerlain
Colin's Beauty Pages
Barney's jewelry department
Parfümrien
loodie loodie loodie
The Straight Dope
Sea of Shoes
London Makeup Girl
Sakecat's Scent Project
Asian Models
Ratzilla Cosme
Smart Skincare
Illustrated Obscurity
A.V. Club
Tom & Lorenzo: Mad Style
Eiderdown Press
Beauty and the Bullshit
La Garçonne
Flame Warriors
Everyday Beauty
Fashion Gone Rogue
Now Smell This
Dempeaux
Fashionista
The Cut
A Fevered Dictation
Nathan Branch
101 Cookbooks

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


Fashion Notes: In Her Shoes
by Li Wen

In his Theory of the Leisure Class (1899), Thorstein Veblen - one of my favourite economists, the Sir David Attenborough of the species Homo sapiens sapiens (breed: Capitalist), much beloved by the Institutionalists - wryly observed the inverse relationship between the practicality and comfort of footwear and the wearer's level of (implied) participation in conspicuous consumption:
"Our dress…in order to serve its purpose effectually, should not only be expensive, but it should also make plain to all observers that the wearer is not engaged in any kind of productive labor… A detailed examination of what passes in popular apprehension for elegant apparel will show that it is contrived at every point to convey the impression that the wearer does not habitually put forth any useful effort. […]
"The dress of women goes even farther than that of men in the way of demonstrating the wearer's abstinence from productive employment. It needs no argument to enforce the generalization that the more elegant styles of feminine bonnets go even farther towards making work impossible than does the man's high hat. The woman's shoe adds the so-called French heel to the evidence of enforced leisure afforded by its polish; because this high heel obviously makes any, even the simplest and most necessary manual work extremely difficult. […]
"But the woman's apparel not only goes beyond that of the modern man in the degree in which it argues exemption from labor; it also adds a peculiar and highly characteristic feature which differs in kind from anything habitually practiced by the men. This feature is the class of contrivances of which the corset is the typical example. The corset is, in economic theory, substantially a mutilation, undergone for the purpose of lowering the subject's vitality and rendering her permanently and obviously unfit for work. It is true, the corset impairs the personal attractions of the wearer, but the loss suffered on that score is offset by the gain in reputability which comes of her visibly increased expensiveness and infirmity. It may broadly be set down that the womanliness of woman's apparel resolves itself, in point of substantial fact, into the more effective hindrance to useful exertion offered by the garments peculiar to women" (emphases mine).
For those unfamiliar with Veblen's sharp tongue, here it is in 21st century speak, with my own feminist slant added in:
  • What is "fashionable" and "desirable" in a society conveys the impression that the wearer belongs to the "leisure class", i.e. can afford not to engage in something so distasteful as actual physical work
  • Women in particular who aspire to fashion, by dint of the gender division of labour and women's station in life as symbolic extensions of their patriarchal figures, are expected to dress in a manner that actively impedes their range of movement, dexterity and stamina. Think Christian Louboutins, or the painful and crippling practice of foot-binding in dynastic China.
  • The more frail, delicate, and obviously unfit for any kind of physical activity you are as a women, the better this reflects upon your social status, and more importantly, the social and economic status of your parents, boyfriend, or husband.
That practicality and fashion are two very different - and often diametrically opposing, according to Veblen - concepts, should be no news to anyone. Few of us can afford to walk around in un-scuffed stilettos all day, every day. Fewer of us, I hope, would even want to. And yet, this norm persists - despite counterculture, and the feminist movement, and grunge, and women's increased participation in the paid labour force. Women nowadays are praised for doing the work and still looking "good" whilst doing it. Or, to put a darker spin on things: "What if you couldn’t get away because the company dress code required you wear shoes designed to keep you from running?" (Carol Diehl to Men Who Still Don't Get It).

Thankfully, there have been some compromises for the modern-day woman. Flats are generally considered acceptance office wear (although in many industries, heels are still encourage for any engagements with clients). Unisex casual footwear (Converse, Vans, flip-flops) are not thorough objects of scorn and unwomanliness (although they will still get you kicked out of high-end restaurants). Shoemakers have cottoned onto the fact that women would prefer to have the height without sacrificing the ability to still walk (at least, get around a boardroom or a supermarket), and thus come up with such helpful innovations as the platform heel and wedges. Car designers have yet to discover a way for me to drive safely without having to remove my heels, but I expect they will eventually. ("Drives like a woman", oh, ha di-ha-hah.)

We live with these compromises every day. Live in them, literally, when it comes to fashion, every pair of shoes a consideration of the usual parameters: "Do they fit comfortably? What outfit will these go with?" But also some which are particular to women: "How far will I need to walk? Will I have to drive, or be driven? How long will I be able to stand up in them?"

And above all: "How much pain am I willing to tolerate, in this instance, for the sake of beauty?"

In my own personal case, the easy answer to the last is: Not much.

Lottusse flatsLottusse sandals
GaimoSerena D
Lottusse woven flats // Lottusse woven sandals
Espadrilles by Gaimo // Serena D. suede moccasins

A look over my summer shoe collection here in China - leaving out my many, barely distinguishable pairs of black ballet flats which are worn to work on rotation - finds flats and mid-height heels in strong representation. What heels I do own, however, are all expressly chosen for their comfort. Seeing as I don't drive in China (and barely drive in Australia, either, to be honest), getting around mainly on foot, metro, or taxi, it is crucial that I be able to walk easily, even whilst carrying a handbag, a laptop bag, and a sack of heavy groceries, as it were. The condition of pedestrian spaces in Shanghai present further challenges: frequent roadwork, uneven pavements, slippery surfaces and poorly visible steps (accident liability being an underdeveloped arena in China).

Even my evening and party heels (magenta suede platforms, goes-with-everything black patent pumps, Milana slingbacks) have been altered or selected to accommodate the environment: leather outersoles overlaid with hard rubber to prevent slips and provide some cushioning for the foot, and colours on which cement dust will not show too obviously. I would not go so far as to say that I could run in them, much less harvest a field or do much housework, but I could definitely walk a mile or three without needing a male arm to steady me.

Rebeca Sanver
ShemeMilana
Chloe ChenPeeptoe
Rebeca Sanver suede & crocodile sandals // BCBGeneration espadrilles
Sheme blush peeptoe heels // Milana for David Jones taupe platform slingbacks
Chloe Chen magenta suede peeptoe platforms // Peeptoe patent heels


Photos: my Instagram (click to enlarge)

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

8/29/2012 [7]




Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]. Or
follow on bloglovin'. If
you'd like to contact Dain,
feel free to email me.
I'm also on Pinterest.

Features
The Mnemonic Sense
Most Wanted
The Beauty Primer
Lookbook
Bestsellers
Consumer Diaries
Closet Confidential
On The Label
Beauty Notebook
The Hit List
Color Me In
The Makeup Artist
Wedding Bells
Globe Trotter
Desert Island

perfume notes
beauty notes
fashion notes
culture notes
minimalism

chypre arc
floral arc
fresh arc
masculines arc
gourmands
   & orientals arc


Archives
August 2008
September 2008
October 2008
November 2008
December 2008
January 2009
February 2009
March 2009
April 2009
May 2009
June 2009
July 2009
August 2009
September 2009
October 2009
November 2009
December 2009
January 2010
February 2010
March 2010
April 2010
May 2010
June 2010
August 2010
September 2010
October 2010
November 2010
December 2010
January 2011
February 2011
March 2011
April 2011
May 2011
June 2011
July 2011
August 2011
September 2011
October 2011
November 2011
December 2011
January 2012
February 2012
April 2012
May 2012
June 2012
July 2012
August 2012
September 2012
October 2012
November 2012
December 2012
January 2013
February 2013
March 2013
June 2013
July 2013

Images
Photobucket