Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 15, No. 16. August 14, 1952
A Hideous Outlet for Sexual Repression — The Zip-Fastener and other Clothing Habits Attacked by a Mere Male
A Hideous Outlet for Sexual Repression
The Zip-Fastener and other Clothing Habits Attacked by a Mere Male
Unlike most of the other ridiculously mediaeval customs which society seeks to impose on us, the wearing of clothes still persists at Victoria, Our inside correspondent tells us that this old-fashioned attitude is due more to the pitiful heating system than to any feelings of modesty. However, we wonder how many students have been interested and amused by the many different modes of dress which one sees around the College. This surely is a subject which should have a universal interest.
There are some who would say that they have no interest in their dress, they are here to do a job of work, nothing else. They take no interest in the corporate life of the College, or their fellow-students; they arrive at five to the hour and leave right after their lecture. There are others who, realising their own inability to appear anything but slovenly, take a sort of inverted pride in looking as untidy as they can, just to show that they "don't care." This article is not for them. It is for the discerning student who has enough interest and insight to recognise the types we are describing, even if he does not agree with what is said about them.
After close study we have been able to divide the men students into several distinct classes.
For most students university is the first real opportunity they get to express their own taste in clothes. Many of these find that the shock of changing from a school uniform into something reasonably sophisticated is too much for their little minds to bear. They do not, in the approved psychological manner, withdraw into themselves or develop a split personality, but unconsciously seek to continue wearing a uniform. It is for these mental invalids that the College blazer is provided. They then have no need to make a choice of clothing, or to expose themselves to the [unclear: slightest] criticism. It is an unobtrusive pond scum green, "every body" wears it, so the wearer is shielded from the slightest comparison with his fellows, which would of course be bad for his ego.
At the other extreme there are those who feel that they have left their schooldays far behind them: they are the "Junior Executives." They try to emphasise this by adopting a mode of dress which they feel is characteristic of a sober businessman. With horribly striped stiff collars (sometimes slightly soiled, because their desire to appear mature does not extend to washing the neck), stringy little ties with, imitation egg-stains, and late Victorian suits flapping ludicrously above their ankles, they are taken seriously by no-one except themselves.
The "Campus Man" is another of the well-known types around the [unclear: place]. He is easily recognised by his [unclear: baggy] corduory trousers (red, green or purple), and his violent pullover. Sometimes reindeer course across his massive chest, or at least you can see where they have, been. He is also accompanied by a foul pipe which he puffs ostentatiously, in spite of the fact that it nearly makes him (and everybody else) sick. He likes to think of himself as the ideal "college" man, tough, hearty, and oh, so handsome! He likes to boast about his beer-drinking prowess, or how little work he has done, or what a fool he made of himself at football last Saturday. Though he would die rather than admit it, he probably has read too many college stories in 'The Saturday Evening Post."
The "Spiv" as a phenomenon is not as plentiful here as the others, because it is not associated with the intelligence or the inclination to study. However, it does occur, and the sight of bottle-green gabardine suits with matching shoulder pads, crepe-soled shoes, and fluorescent ties is a familiar one. This type is usually as intellectual as it looks, which explains its absence from any of the cultural organisations. Their carefully yellowed fingers and swept-back hair style are among their most treasured possessions. They are generally uncommunicative, partly because they put themselves above the common run of students, and partly because their vocabulary is monosyllabic.
There are a few more minor factions which could have been dealt with, such as the dashing type—the otherwise conservative person who sports a yellow tie or a fairisle jumper with a most convincing air of bravado—but most male students have a leaning towards one of the four main divisions. So much for the men: now for the women.
Women students cannot claim to be uninterested in the way they dress, since their chief aim in life is to get a man and they know the value of dressing attractively to achieve this end. Although the girls vie with one another in displaying attractively their outstanding points most of their efforts are directed towards camouflage. This, from our limited observation of student life in the raw, is just as well.
Although we may be stepping outside our field when we criticise women students, they might find it interesting to see themselves through a man's eyes. Why wear angora wool with one of those snappy, up-to-the-minute costumes? Surely they call for something equally smooth and chromium-plated? Angora is reserved for the sweetly delicate type, not the suave and self-assured hip-dancer. This applies also to those with the "fuller figure" (as they say in the corset advertisements). Fluffiness of this kind does not flatter those bouncing rolls of fat; it makes the wearer look like a run-away sponge cake.
The panacea for all ills of the figure today seems to be gabardine Girls think that because they are able to ooze into a skirt of this material it will iron out all those bumps in the wrong places. This of course, is far from true. A well-chosen ensemble of this kind is certainly most attractive, but that vast majority with figure deficiencies had best keep to the shapeless skirts of heavy wool which are kinder to Miss Five By Five.
Just a word about zip-fasteners. This device, originally conceived as something completely utilitarian, has now become a hideous outlet for sexual expression. It snarls at us brassily from the most unmentionable places, whereas formerly we only saw it on the hips. We realise that our innocent varsity girls may be being led astray by some foul-minded manufacturer, but the invitation they offer is clear, even if unintentional. We know they are quicker and more convenient, but that is not always an advantage. Besides, they are "far too ostentatious for that to be the only reason for wearing them.
It is impossible to do more than to "touch the hem" of this subject—a deeper introspection may have been more [unclear: interesting]. This article, although it is no more than a few jumbled impressions, may show that other people are interested in what you wear even if you are not. Next time you choose a neck-tie, show a little consideration for those who have to look at it all day!