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The Thinking Housewife: In the wake of Sandy, why are New Yorkers dressed so drably?

Now THESE gals are dressed for a hurricane.

The single strangest reaction I’ve seen thus far to the devastation of Sandy comes from Laura Wood, the genteel bigot and feminism-hater who blogs as The Thinking Housewife. After looking through a gallery of photos on the Daily Mail showing some of the damage in New York city, Wood suggested that the real problem is that New Yorkers aren’t wearing cheerful enough clothing:

THESE Daily Mail photos of New York City after the hurricane remind me of just how ugly the streets of Manhattan are, with almost everyone dressed in drab, uninteresting clothes that rival the uniforms of Maoist China for their homogeneity and lifelessness. America is one of the most aesthetically impoverished nations in history. I wonder how many thousands of people are on medication because they are depressed by their own clothes and their ugly, hostile environments, surrounded as they are by impersonal denim, sneakers with tire treads, plastic-covered down jackets, billboards with oppressive smiles, and the austere, chilling cliffs of modern skyscrapers. This is the environment of a people that idolizes equality and sameness. The only way to survive amid such poverty is to possess an interior castle, a place of tapestries and mahogany where denim and sweat jackets are nowhere to be seen.

Just make sure this castle of yours isn’t reduced to rubble by 85 mile-an-hour winds and flying debris.

Speaking of New York, here’s an interesting (if a bit shaky) video of a walk through that city’s dark streets after the hurricane hit.

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princessbonbon
8 years ago

So apparently the (Un)Thinking Housewife thinks that day glo is good.

It is official, she is evil.

Naira
Naira
8 years ago

I love how she defends herself against one of the commenters: the people pictured wouldn’t have had their homes destroyed, because they’re in Midtown! ‘Cause no one ever leaves their neighborhoods. Nor would they be worrying about friends and family in other parts of the city/along the east coast.

>.<

Really?

In any case, why are we supposed to care?

Noadi
8 years ago

Sandy hit at the end of fucking October, people are a lot more interested in staying warm and dry (even before the storm hit) than how festive their clothes are. Cold weather outerwear is generally pretty dark and drab for good reasons: coats are meant to be worn every day and only get cleaned once or twice a year and neutral colors don’t show as much dirt.

Now what you wear under that coat or sweater is a completely different matter and New Yorkers are not exactly known for being unfashionable, it’s the center of the American fashion industry after all.

She really should change her name, thinking seems to be something she isn’t very good at if she doesn’t know how clothing works.

The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
8 years ago

Let me guess: if they’d been dressed up in glitz or bling or whatever, she’d have been whining that they were shallow and materialistic and probably immodest, too.

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

Priorities? What priorities?

Did she tell us what she thinks people in New York should be wearing? Because I bet it’s hilarious.

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

Day-glo?

That’s it, preachy church lady. This means war.

Runic244
Runic244
8 years ago

I went to NYC once. I can’t say that the words “drab”, “uninteresting”, or “ugly” entered my mind for a moment regarding either the city or its inhabitants. Mrs. Housewife has some pretty dumb opinions, on this and many other topics.

Also, the food there was amazing.

EEB
EEB
8 years ago

One of my “favorite” articles on the Ladies Against Feminism site (I can’t find it right now, they changed the format and I really don’t feel like going through all the articles to track it down) showed a picture of the “typical” Victorian woman (beautiful painting of a woman in gorgeous dress, peticoats, lace, jewlery, hair all gussied up, all that) and the “typical” modern woman (sad black-and-white pencil drawing of a woman in jeans and a sweater, sneakers, hair pulled back, etc.) and lamented how modern women just aren’t attractive, and we’ve lost all of the beauty of past eras when women knew how to dress, blah blah blah.

And all I could think was, “Really? You really think that if it was suddenly 1812 instead of 2012, you’d be wearing that? Because if I remember my history correctly, only about 5% of the population would have been dressed like that. Statistically, you would probably be wearing plain, probably dirty, probably torn, definitely smelly, dresses that were either covered in soot from the factory where you’d worked 16 hours or soap and scum from all the washing you’d been doing. Maybe, if you were really lucky, it would just have some vomit from the babies you’d been taking care of all day (and sometimes all night) long without breaks and vacations.”

But they really, truly believe that if they were suddenly transported back in time, they would be one of those upper-middle class women with the beautiful dresses and perfect hair. Nothing out of place, of course, because they could afford someone to help them dress, and maids to clean so they never got dirty, cooks so their clothes never got spattered in flour or sauce, and nannies to run around after the children so they never got frazzled or messy. They never, ever picture themselves as that maid or cook or nanny (or factory worker, or farmer’s wife). That level of arrogance is astounding.

Not to mention the sheer racism, because of course they never talk about what the average African-American woman was wearing at the time.

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

I’m also detecting a distinct note of “unfeminine!”, what with how upset she is about jeans and all.

MKlein
MKlein
8 years ago

“People have clinical depression because their houses and clothes aren’t pretty enough.”

OW!
(That was the sound of this lady’s ablebodied/neurotypical privilege slapping me in the face).

Also, um, there was a HURRICANE, and you’re wondering about things not being pretty enough? WAY TO STAY RELEVANT THERE.

Bob Dole
Bob Dole
8 years ago

Putting aside the sheer stupid of focusing on that after a hurricane, I have a solution to the supposed drab-clothing issue that should please all parties: have everyone dress like 90’s shonen anime characters. I laugh at her pitiful attempts at vibrancy.

Kiwi girl
Kiwi girl
8 years ago

Because Laura Wood is well-known for her bright and interesting clothing http://www.thinkinghousewife.com/wp/2012/03/hello-reader/ ?

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

Well, she is wearing yellow earrings. Not what I’d call an attractive use of color, or particularly well suited to the top she’s wearing, but they are colorful.

ozymandias42
8 years ago

But but but I’m depressed AND I have a tiny fabulous hat.

heidihi
heidihi
8 years ago

Brooklynite here, she can fuck right the hell off as I wear my yoga clothes 24/7 because i would like to be comfortable if i’m suddenly killed by a falling tree.

Also, i’m betting there are no New Yorkers who really give two shits about what she ‘thinks’ [sic].

heidihi
heidihi
8 years ago

@Ozy, tip of my metaphorical hat to your tiny fabulous hat and i hope you feel better as you can, soon 🙂

blitzgal
8 years ago

what….the….fuck…

hellkell
hellkell
8 years ago

OK, I really try very hard not use this word, but every time I’m confronted by the Unthinking Housewife, all I can think is, “This bitch right here.”

Because REALLY. A giant fricking storm just hit NYC, and all she can think is, “these people look unhappy, must be their drab clothes.” SERIOUSLY?

RubyHypatia
RubyHypatia
8 years ago

Someone call Stacy and Clinton, it’s a fashion emergency!

ohmydoglet
8 years ago

Dang! Such a naked and powerful need she has to feel superior to someone, anyone. I would hate to live in her head. I really feel sorry for her.

drst
drst
8 years ago

As expected, my previous comment is caught in moderation for being link heavy (all safe links, I promise!). David, help?

Fitzy
Fitzy
8 years ago

Oh, lordy, the Thinking Housewife. In her honor, I’m going to change into some yoga pants and then go check out fivethirtyeight blog. A drably (ie, comfortably) dressed woman showing an interest in politics is surely the manifestation of all that is wrong with the U.S. today.

hellkell
hellkell
8 years ago

She’d have the vapors over tonight’s outfit–baggy cargo shorts, ratty t-shirt, and no bra.

Zanana
Zanana
8 years ago

I like how two men in her comments section are competitively posting pictures and putting each other’s fashion down in their most highfalutin language…

“I am second from the right, with my arm around my friend Bill and my girlfriend Rosie. Bill is the only person I know who wears Oxford-cloth button-down collars to go hiking! I call attention to the variety of color, but also to the smiles.I call attention to the variety of color, but also to the smiles.”

“No credit is to be given to the sartorial pronouncements of a man who does not avoid an untucked shirt.”

“The year was 1977; I was twenty-three years old; it was a holiday; we were on a hike-and-picnic in Big Sycamore Canyon…. I used to go snorkel-diving in the reefs off Pt. Dume, Malibu and guess what, my shirt-tails were not tucked in then, either. Sheesh!”

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

What kind of idiot wears a button-down to go hiking?

I’m not impressed by the style of either Laura or her commenters. What a dull-looking bunch.

hellkell
hellkell
8 years ago

I’ll refrain from bagging on Laura’s style, I’ll just say I am underwhelmed.

Cassandra, that idiot probably wears the wingtips for his hikes, if he’s wearing Oxford button-downs hiking–tucked in, of course.

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

It’s all very ye olde days, reminds me of a particularly annoying British colonial type that tended towards cucumber sandwiches and full evening dress even when it was 115 degrees and there was a sandstorm/monsoon/tiger trying to eat them and a group of locals pointing and laughing.

Sgt Grumbles
Sgt Grumbles
8 years ago

I see the girls walk by dressed in their summer clothes
I have to turn my head until my darkness goes

princessbonbon
8 years ago

My roommate used to wear full sleeve button downs on hikes because he was so scared of poison ivy and whatever else you can get attacked by in the woods.

MargaretW
MargaretW
8 years ago

Maybe their hurricane tuxedos and gowns were at the cleaners.

Really, it’s late October in NY and there was a hurricane. WTF do these bozos expect people to be wearing?

kysokisaen
8 years ago

What kind of idiot wears a button-down to go hiking?

The kind that might define ‘hiking’ a little differently than you do. Some people’s hiking is other people’s pleasant stroll through the woods to get to the actual hiking.

And all of those people look appropriately dressed for inspecting the wrath of Poseidon. When it comes time for offering a sacrifice to appease him, I’m sure they’ll go home and change.

The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
8 years ago

EEB – and they’re pig-ignorant if they think the Victorian upper classes were sparkly clean, however many servants they had. Take London for example: it was notoriously filthy, not least because of the coal dust that got in everywhere. There was a reason aspidistras were so popular as indoor plants: they were among the few that could survive the dust and fug in the houses. There was no adequate shampoo, so hair was never what we’d call clean, although I daresay by the standards of comfort and cleanliness it wasn’t noticed. Dresses had “dress protectors” with them – pads to insert in the armpits to soak up sweat, and detachable hems that could be washed. It wasn’t just street filth, either. Baths were a major effort, with most houses not having water (or not hot water) laid on upstairs; even for those that did, the water still had to be emptied from a portable tub and carried down in buckets. Hot baths were looked on with suspicion and even cold ones certainly weren’t a daily thing. Those beautiful clothes were stained, darned (yes, even upper class clothes got mended) and probably didn’t smell too great, since washing – for those that could be washed at all – was problematic, to say the least. Even flopping down in bed was not that great. Bedbugs were everywhere – Jane Carlyle catalogues her war with ’em.

There are some great books on Victorian homes and furniture that are very good social histories – two in particular I like, The Early Victorians at Home by Elizabeth Burton, and <The Victorian House by Judith Flanders. What a pity none of these oh-modern-is-so-horrid nitwits bothers reading things like that.

Oh, and I’m typing this while wearing a pair of crappy, damp, brown trakkies and an equally damp ratty tee, because I’ve been cleaning the bathroom (where do six months go?). And guess what, I’m not depressed, which may just have something to do with the fact that my home hasn’t been destroyed, nobody I know is missing or dead, I’m not living in a disaster zone and I’ve got power, so had toasted muffins for lunch, rather than the state of my clothing.

reymohammed
reymohammed
8 years ago

Cucumber sandwiches are all right. The rest of it reminds me of what my Urdu-speaking associates called “dead Britisher clothes”.

nerdypants
nerdypants
8 years ago

Everyone’s a fashion critic. In Laura’s defence, I don’t think she was making a point about how New Yorkers should dress after a natural disaster, but how they dress normally. That said, this does seem a like a strange time to choose to make that point.

reymohammed
reymohammed
8 years ago

As far as the Raj goes, the British men buttoned up and stank, but the ladies rather quickly adopted soft cottons and wash silks, which couldbe regularly given to the dhobi. Quite a number of Subcontinental manufacturers and retailers have featured simplified, soft, clothes with that Indo-Victorian influence, but aside from the silk kurtas, which were quite colorful, a lot of the items were either khaki or white.

nerdypants
nerdypants
8 years ago

(After the floods in Brisbane people were milling around the city in gum boots and mud-splattered jeans and big gumby hats, the result of having bussed-out to help with the clean-up. I don’t know how chic that is, but it was the most heart-warming fashion I’ve ever seen. The photo of the power-point tied to the gate for passers-by to charge their mobiles had the same effect on me. It’s a bit “first world problems”, but also overwhelmingly “everything’s going to be alright because people are lovely”).

The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
8 years ago

Nerdypants – she’d hate Melbourne, where black is so predominant! 😀

Cookie
Cookie
8 years ago

“To Kill a Mockingbird” she reminds me of Ms. Dubose if she Ms. Dubose knew how to use the internet. She hates everything and everyone, race, color or creed. She hates pizza. She thinks fundraising for breast cancer is a bad idea

Seraph
Seraph
8 years ago

Clothes in New York? Drab? Uninteresting? Homogeneous?

…yeah. I got nothin’. That’s nothing I’ve ever even heard of before. I think she just really wanted to compare NYC to Maoist China, and she was just looking for some bullshit excuse to do it.

The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
8 years ago

Oooh, I could do with that book too, princessbonbon! It could squeeze in with all my other historical fashion books. 🙂

I went through quite an 1850s phase years back when I was making clothes for <a href="this little person.

M Dubz
M Dubz
8 years ago

Christ. I lived in New York for six years (only moved out a couple of months ago). I have so many friends who have been displaced from the weather. Seeing pictures of my beautiful city flooded out makes me want to cry.

New York is a vibrant place. Yes, there’s a lot of black clothes, but there’s also a lot of really classic, whimsical, offbeat clothing choices on a consistent basis. And more than that, there’s a permissive “anything goes” attitude. I used to love walking around New York; you’d see some strangeness, and learn very quickly not to be shocked by it. And when shit hits the fan, New Yorkers watch out for each other, which is why I love the pictures of restauranteurs cooking free food outdoors for passers by.

I think the Thinking Housewife needs to pull the stick out of her ass. She should be so lucky to call a place like New York home.

The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
8 years ago

Bugger, the links didn’t work. Photobucket’s having troubles. Let’s try this …

Miss Dinah

EEB
EEB
8 years ago

@ The Kittehs’ Unpaid Help

That’s a great point.

I swear, whenever I hear people talk about “the good old days” it makes me weep for our educational system. Only the seriously uneducated could genuinely wish they lived back then. Even if you clarify that, no, we want all the modern technology and medical care, we just want the same culture and values….well, I think a person has to either be incredibly ignorant about history (even just as far back as the 1950s), or incredibly racist, sexist, homophobic, abelist, and completley deviod of any empathy for the poor, to wish society would go back to holding 1950s (or 1850s) values. I don’t really see any middle ground, there: ignorant or asshole are the only options.

Dr. Dobson wrote an article that I remember reading when I was a kid, and even at 12 or so I still knew it was total bullshit. In it, he imagined a conversation between himself and a man from 1895. 1895 Man was sadly horrified by how terrible Modern Man was, how he had stopped protecting the women and children, had stopped doing his Manly Christian Duty to protect the home. Even as a kid I thought it was the stupidest thing I’d ever read. Like, I’m sure the kids losing fingers and limbs in factories or dying in coal mines felt totally loved and protected. Any ten-year-old with the Samantha American Girl books could tell Dobson he was full of shit.

Lawndart
Lawndart
8 years ago

Wait, NYC is full of people wearing drab, boring clothing?

That’s it, now that Bloomberg’s cancelled the NYC marathon, he needs to replace it with the return of Wigstock.

The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
8 years ago

Gods, yes. I’m not that familiar with US history but I bet the matters of hygiene, industry and the lack of protection for workers and consumers (the same people, obviously – they get you coming and going) were similar to what was going on in England. No way would I want to be subjected either to the physical environment (death by arsenic-impregnated wallpaper, anyone? No? Industrial diseases for factory workers? What, no takers?) OR such an extreme patriarchy.

Hmm, photo sites out of whack, no great surprise there … let’s see if this works for showing the crinoline dress I was trying to link to before.

http://imgbox.com/aco3UuDV

amavra
8 years ago

So it seems she’s really just mad that women don’t wear dresses and men don’t wear suits all the time. Hurricane or not, whatever, she just loves the idea that everyone should wear a mid calf or longer length dress or a 3 piece suite (carefully sticking to your gender’s dress code of course). It is awkward at best that she tried to shoehorn the hurricane into her ridiculous commentary.

Because I doubt the fact that bright colors, various styles and cultural influenced dress that flourishes in New York (and most big cities I’d say) has any affect. She doesn’t want culture and colors and variety, she wants black and white 1930s-50s conservative imaginings. Makes me kind of sad for her (as many of her opinions do).

The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
8 years ago

Yes, anyone talking about “the good old days” as far as men’s clothes are concerned would want to go back to the 1840s at latest for any colour or splash. After that, suits became deadly dull in colour and cut.

Me, I like the 1630s French fashions for men the best. 🙂

BigKitty
BigKitty
8 years ago

Let me guess – the Stinking Housewife would just love to celebrate lots of new Congolese-Americans wearing their beautiful multicolored gowns and headdresses up in Harlem. But oops, oh yeah – not exactly!

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