Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Appropriateness


Appropriateness

 It is award season here in the states.  What that means is that this month we have so many award ceremonies shown on television and splashed about the morning papers that any gravitas those prizes may have enjoyed in years past has long since evaporated.  Between the first of the year and the end of this month we’ll have had the Golden Globes, the Critic’s Choice awards, the People’s Choice awards,  the SAG awards (which, as a woman, I’ve always found to be a dubious honor at best), the Producer’s Guild awards, the Director’s Guild awards ….well,  you get the idea. The Oscars used to be the only game in town for most of us lay people but these days, by the time that illustrious pageant takes place, not only do we already know who’s going to win the golden statue, we no longer really care.  Like too many of the actors themselves, all the mystery has been syphoned away by hype and over-exposure.   It’s no wonder, I suppose, that these spectacles have primarily devolved into fashion shows where every outfit elicits endless scrutiny, criticism, and comment. 

And so …. people have been abuzz this week over the appearance of the actress, Susan Sarandon, at the aforementioned SAG awards this past weekend.  Ms. Sarandon strode onstage in a beautiful white pantsuit but rather inexplicably she left her shirt at home, choosing instead to let her black bra do all the heavy lifting, so to speak, by itself.   This sartorial choice was made even more note-worthy by the fact that her onstage duty was to deliver the memoriam tribute to the actors who had died in the previous year. For myself, the resulting effect was a bit cringe-worthy.  

In the ensuing chatter over Ms. Sarandon’s outfit, a lot of opinion has centered around her age.  From “She’s way too old to parade herself around like that!” to “Hey, if you’ve still got it, flaunt it.”  For myself, that’s not even remotely the issue.  She’s undoubtedly a gorgeous, well-endowed woman who could easily turn heads in a potato sack.  For me, what was lacking in her ensemble, beside the shirt of course, was a sense of appropriateness.  I have to admit that I miss the days when women dressed with an eye to the occasion, and yes, I know I sound like an old crank saying this.  But it’s true.  It’s also why I don’t wear jeans to funerals or white to a wedding.  Like any art form, fashion is a form of communication and sometimes what we need to communicate is respect and even, dare I say,  a wee bit of dignity.  Forgive me, but this is difficult to do shirtless. 

Last September, The Songwriter and I were having breakfast in a tiny cafe on Kings Road in London.  Seated next to us was a young woman and her very elegantly dressed grandmother.  I was close enough to overhear their conversation and am afraid I frequently found it too delicious to ignore.   At one point the elderly lady was heard to say, “I’m sorry, my dear, but I just don’t understand most women today.  They all seem to dress as though they are in a French play.”
I suppose that’ll be me in a few years. 
Sigh.

33 comments:

  1. Hi Pamela, whilst I haven't seen Susan Sarandon's outfit as we don't see a lot of those shows in Australia, I agree wholeheartedly with what you are saying (and you do make all of your comments and observations so beautifully). Elegance and appropriateness is important and how you dress is a very important form of communication to show someone respect. Thank you for your wonderful blog and your kind and thoughtful voice.

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  3. I agree with you totally here Pamela. Dress for the occasion. Because of various mobility problems I prefer to always wear trousers these days, but I make sure they are correct for where I am going. It seems that with the young anything goes, whatever the place - perhaps that is a sign that I am getting old.

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  4. Pamela, you left out one of the best awards: Top Dog! The Westminster Dog Show is coming up next Monday. For what it's worth, I think if you removed Ms Sarandon's bra, she definitely could be a contender for a SAG award. :-)

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  5. Completely agree. Susan looked great and there is a time and a place for that, but not a memorial service.

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  6. Completely agree. Susan looked great and there is a time and a place for that, but not a memorial service.

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  7. I saw her outfit and must say, we could get into a discussion as breasts as sexual objects etc., but were a man to walk out without a shirt we would be somewhat shocked too. I guess I am with the got it/flaunt it group, but do agree, there must have been an underlying story about her look as it just didn't seem proper for the occasion. I wonder what she thought about the buzz. Next time maybe white slacks and a stunning white sequined turtleneck.

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  8. Communication, yes - and that communication includes demonstrating respect for others (not to mention showing respect for yourself).

    When I was a teen I had the opportunity to show my family's horse at Madison Square Garden on "stake night" (championship classes on Saturday night). I remember looking out from center ring lineup at the glittering crowd and seeing more tuxedos and evening gowns in the audience than ever I had seen in the movies in one place at one time. Respect, yes!

    It is long past time to remember to dress for the occasion and not just the capital "O" occasion but for every day and every ceremony. Little girls in Easter dresses and flowered headbands and little boys in their first suits. Velvet and satin at Christmas and those midwinter holidays that equal Christmas in importance. Sombre attire for funerals and those events that suggest a sombre and thoughtful presence.

    For pete's sake - informal yet slanted toward "evening" attire for the opera. In my area you are more likely to find tie-dye t-shirts and earth shoes or Burkies with wrinkled jeans on opening night. Gaaaahhhh.

    Bare legs with dresses unless it's summer frocks with sandals in hot weather. My office manager once showed up for an all-office meeting in a skort with flip flops decorated with plastic daisies!

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  9. As one old crank to another, I agree. When I first saw the outfit, I thought people were upset that she had the "nerve" to appear in public dressed as most younger women do. That seemed a little age-ist to me. Then I realized what she was there to do. Yes, it was inappropriate and insensitive.

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  10. I have to agree with your elderly lady lamenting that she didn't understand most women today. I would add that I'd like my real estate broker, my bank teller, my office clerk..to look professional and business-like so that they give the appearance of a no-nonsense approach to my business. There's a time and place for a revealing decolletage and it isn't the office, especially if you're dealing with the public. I guess most men though would disagree and they're usually the ones in management setting the standards.

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  11. I totally agree with you! Even though someone is georgous - have some class! It looks like she forgot her shirt and many have complained about her outfit - especially men! That made me laugh, of course, because if she had a show all dress on - her cleavage hanging out - her legs showing to the thigh - they would have google eyed her. But her suit outfit didn't show enough for the men! Ugh - double standards!!

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  12. I thought it was completely inappropriate, so I'll happily sit at the opinionated and elegantly dressed, older ladies table. I take a lot of flak from friends about my resistance to attending the theater in jeans, even my NYC pals do so these days, but for me it is about respect, so I'm fine with the ribbing. I suppose I have my mother to thank, but dressing appropriately is important and always will be.

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  13. I couldn't agree more, both with the frequency and types of awards and dressing appropriately. I thought Sarandan's choice a poor one in every way.

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  14. I first read your post, then I watched the video of Ms Sarandon's presentation. In her position I might have covered up a bit more, but based on your post and the comments I expected to see something extremely racy and was surprised at just how tame she looked. Had she worn a low cut dress, as celebrities are wont to do on these shows, would there have been the same outcry? I doubt it. But an extra tiny triangle of skin seems to have set off a storm of controversy.

    Dressing appropriately for the occasion is extremely important to me. I strive to do so; I learned it at my mother's knee. But we woman can sometimes be our own worst enemies, and we so often pick other women (and celebrities especially) apart for their dress, looks, weight, etc. The outfit chosen by an actress is ultimately not the mark of the solemnity of something. Ms Sarandon was very serious and appropriate in her memorial presentation, which, it seems to me, is what should concern viewers. When we start tut-tutting over the sartorial choices of actors and actresses I think we're barking up the wrong tree. It is part of "show business" and should come as little surprise. We women should really be more understanding of one another, in my opinion.

    By the way, I would be more worried that looking that fresh and lovely at age 69 means Ms Sarandon has made some sort of bargain with the devil!

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    1. Thanks so much for your comment. I would just say that if Ms. Sarandon had indeed been wearing a low cut dress, I doubt I would have felt the same way. I suppose I cringed because I recognize underwear when I see it and, to me, that seemed a strange choice in light of what she was there to do. Like you, I believe there is something to be said for sisterhood and refraining from the snarky judgment of one another’s choices. But as I tried to say, we communicate through what we choose to wear, no matter who we are, and sometimes we need to say something more than “look at me”.

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    2. Yes, I should have made it clear that I agree with you on the inappropriateness of "look-at-meism", and you wrote it well. For some reason, I just can't see this as one of those moments but I am perhaps being a bit obtuse - but not purposely! :-)

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  15. Wonderful comments! I had to google a photo of Ms. Sarandon to see what all the fuss is about. Yep, it's a bra, no doubt about it. She might have chosen a fancy bustier and kept her cleavage front and center without looking exactly as you said Pamela, like she forgot her shirt. I'd guess her real reason is an attempt to look (somewhat) like the younger girls so they'll keep offering her movie roles. And it seems like a very sad attempt on her part which succeeds in making her look kinda cheap.

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  16. Pamela,
    I didn't see the SAG awards show but just because someone "has it" doesn't mean they should flaunt it. I'm older than you and I often hold my opinion because I feel like it must be my age that makes me critical of what I feel is inappropriate. Still, there are ways to look young and with it without being barely dressed to honor the deceased.
    I hope that there will always be some in society that have the style and taste to dress and conduct themselves accordingly.
    xo,
    Karen

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  17. Oh, please. As my father used to say, let's stop beating about the bush and simply recognise the complete inappropriateness of Susan Sarandon's outfit for the occasion instead of going on and on about (older) women's right to dress like they please. All these "controversies" are so intellectually empty and misplaced.

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    1. I can't find much here but passing references to older womens' rights to dress as they please, and as the only dissenter my argument was not that one. In any case, when you are highly critical of others' comments on a forum in future you might have the decency to identify yourself.

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  18. I wonder how that outfit would have been received on a younger (and less voluptuous) woman. Say Emma Stone, a lovely redhead nearly 50 years younger. If a singer like Lady Gaga or Katy Perry wore the same outfit, it would seem very tame. The bottom line is that as we get older we do face some restrictions.

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    1. I really think I would have felt the same if that woman was there to introduce the memorial tribute. I feel it was an inappropriate ensemble for that honor. Age, size or beauty has nothing to do with it for me.

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  19. I completely agree with your statements! Especially this last one replying to Jessica. Thank you for putting it out there!

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  20. I am afraid my comment was misunderstood. I agree the outfit was inappropriate! Even if she was just giving out an award and not honoring those recently lost. The bra top look makes me cringe, and I don't know why anyone would choose it. But I was speaking about all the hoopla. I really don't think the press would have made such a big deal if it had been worn by a younger woman, especially one known for outrageous dressing. That is what I was saying, but maybe that isn't the case. Jessica

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  21. I feel duly chastised about my comment, and I'm sorry. I never meant to disagree - I did not mean to imply that the outfit would have been a good choice for anyone of the women I mentioned. Just that it would not have drawn the same response. I was merely wondering about this. I mentioned Emma Stone as she is a redhead like Susan Sarandon - only younger. I tried to picture her in that outfit and I think it would have been inappropriate on her as well. But it wouldn't have gotten so much hate. That was my only point. I enjoy your blog and I am so sorry I offended you

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    1. Oh goodness, Jessica! I'm not in the least offended. I enjoyed the discussion and your point is well taken that the press probably wouldn't have commented had a younger woman worn the outfit. It's just that I myself would have felt the same regardless. I would hate for you, or any of my commenters, to feel "chastised"! You are always welcome here! xxx

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  22. And was that lady in the cafe Maggie Smith. Ditto.
    I am burn't out with this Political stuff. That TRUMP
    is rich but no class. He does not have any diplomacy.
    Americans are really DUMB if they can't see this is just FUN
    for him. It's a joke he is playing. To prove how stupid
    Americans are. He even said it. God Help America.
    yvonne

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  23. If one can only get attention by dressing outrageously, then there's a problem. Perhaps it's insecurity. Good taste shows class, maturity and security. Flaunting one's body is just a way to say "look at me, look at me!" So many women these days think that all they are is a body. That is a sad statement. Women need to show more respect for themselves and not worry so much about age and their bodies. Life is so short and there is so much out there to see and do. It's a pity to be so engrossed with the grossness of it all. Yuk.

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  24. I knew nothing of this (neither the awards nor the controversy LOL), but checked it out online and yes, I definitely agree, entirely inappropriate for the occasion. The constant cleavage shown in so many places nowadays is still a jolt to me (sigh - yes, I'm a woman "of a certain age"), and all the more so when the occasion calls for more modest apparel. At a wedding I attended, the bride's mother wore a very low-cut top, and I was even more startled when she took part in the service, reading one of the scripture passages. On a lighter note, though, I noticed at the end of the page I read about the SAG awards, there was an arrow indicating further information to follow, with the words "click here for full coverage" - right on!

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  25. It is easy to follow the crowd in our culture. You are not one who does so automatically.

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I love to read your comments! Each and every one! Though I'm always reading your comments, I may not respond in the comment section. If you want to write me directly, you may do so at pamela@pamelaterry.net. Thank you for reading!