Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Dressing a wife, or trying to hold it together?

My wife and I recently (at the encouragement of dear sister Elspeth) took a look at a neat little book called "Wife Dressing", and I figure that a review from the male point of view might be of interest.

Or perhaps "amateur detective perspective" might be more accurate, as a look at Anne Fogarty's wiki page  puts the book in interesting perspective.  She married her first husband in 1940 and was married for over 17 years; the book was published in 1959.  Do the math; she was writing and editing her book as, or after, her marriage fell apart, and yet somehow she remains strongly in favor of marriage, and even of the Biblical model of marriage, including male headship.

This is more remarkable yet given that there was no such thing as no fault divorce in 1957; she, or her husband, had to allege divorce-worthy behavior to get that divorce granted.  What was it?  Look at the husband's obituary; it lists his profession as an art professor and artist, including figure and life drawing, and the obituary lists two daughters that could not have been Anne's--she lists only two adopted sons in the book.  My best guess is that he traded in his wife on a younger model, if you catch my drift.

It also is worth noting that unless he inherited a fair amount of money from his father (also an artist), it doesn't seem likely that he could have supported his wife in the style the book describes--professors get paid well, but not well enough for a large Manhattan apartment or home filled with the work of couturers to the tune of dozens of traveling trunks.  I'd guess she earned most of the money, but--radical patriarchy here on her part--she treated her paycheck as his to dispose of.  The book and the wiki bio give little idea of her religious life, but her view of marriage puts many "fundagelicals" to shame.

(other things of interest include that the sons were adopted, and the obituary of the husband contains no mention of military service, although he was a very draftable 25-26 years old in 1942)

And the fashion advice?   Quite frankly, my Midwestern/Scots blood rebels at the idea that one ought to buy lower quality garments and keep up with fashion trends.  Give me one pair of Allen Edmonds instead of the entire stock of a typical Wal-Mart or Target.  Give me one nice Pendleton shirt instead of the whole warehouse of cheap flannels.  Nobody cares that I've been wearing my Lodge Shirt for 24 years, or my wing tips for 14, and nobody cares that my wife's Beautifeels are 16 years old, and her Pendleton skirts over 20.  Well, maybe in Manhattan, but we don't go there often.  And tons of clothes instead of the other things we can do with that money?   Simply not my language!

Where the author goes right in fashion is to note that what's underneath is important--I'd add whether that's one's natural frame/musculature or a garment--and to note that ultimately, one needs to dress for the enjoyment and comfort of those who are most important--one's spouse, hence the title.  Really, that last bit is a contribution worth ten times the purchase price.  She doesn't use time telling women how to dress for their body type, but rather says....talk to your husband.

It's something we need to hear more in this day and age, especially in the church.

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