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Costume Crises

Well, it’s all the talk.  Superman, in the new movie coming out soon, “Man of Steel”, has a new look–no tights!  

The new costume still sports the iconic red capital “S” across the–very broad–chest on an all-blue, sort of metallic, more-armored-look unitard.  No belt, exactly, but a waist-defining red detail on the sides and red cuffs and a red stripe down the–well-muscled–leg, at the side.  There’s a gizmo just below the belly button that looks like a button to push to turn off the lights or something; that’s probably not what it’s for–the turn-on would be entirely different.  Still has boots.

How’s Smallville (Plano, IL, where the movie is being made) going to react to this?  One spot on the internet screams, “War on Superman’s Underpants!”  Another comes back with, “Viva la Underpants!”  Yet another goes on at some length about the whole origin of Superman’s costume some eighty years ago, about how it was probably based on the pretty common look of the old-time circus strongman that was intended to be emblematic of power and strength without offending the public with too much emphasis on the “crotchal” region.  Actually, there’s a whole bunch of humor floating around out there about Superman’s outfit, has been for years ( Superman’s been wearing the same outfit for over half a century ; he’s strong…and kind of ripe by now.) and this latest development will, no doubt, inspire a raft of new stuff.

And there’s more!

New 52 Batgirl style features a newly-redesigned belt in polyurethane rubber–gold, for contrast with the black over-all look.  Gold gloves and bat emblem.  New products for you all to buy from DC Entertainment; don’t wait.  Wonder if they come in my size.  I get bats here all of the time.  I can relate.

In Stockholm it’s another costume crisis, of sorts.  The male train drivers and conductors on the Roslagsbanan (Say that a couple of times!) line have taken to wearing skirts  to work in protest this summer, since the officials in charge of uniform policy have refused to allow the wearing of shorts.  One might hope that some of the newly-skirted might gain an appreciation of the hassle that many female workers have had to put up with when required to wear skirts while doing jobs that clearly could have and should have been done in long pants or shorts–not skirts or dresses.  Dress codes are all very well and good when they’re well thought out. Who hasn’t seen some VERY inappropriate garments showing up in places where they shouldn’t ( And showing some features that they shouldn’t either) ?  TACKY doesn’t BEGIN to describe it.  Sort of an in-your-face lack of respect is the vibe that I get.  Safety and professionalism are not mutually exclusive of comfort.  Keep your tidy-whities undercover, please.

Anyway, the company hasn’t stopped the skirt-adopters and the passengers have been mostly positive.  The Scots are just wondering what the big deal is all about.

And speaking of tidy-whities, the folks at SPANX are celebrating “ten years of great rears”  in their advertising blurbs lately.  Founder, Sara Blakely, has been designated by Forbes Magazine as the youngest female self-made billionaire in the world.  They make at least 200 different products, leading in the “shapewear” industry, especially since Oprah named the product(s) one of her “favorite things” on her show (This is NOT your mother’s “foundation garment”, honey).  The company has some sharp marketing people too, going for not-quite-double-entendre names for lots of their products, to wit: Tight-End Tights, Hide & Sleek, Slim Cognito, Bra-llelujah, Haute Contour–the Dessert of Shapewear.  All of these are trademarked, so don’t try them at home.  The company blog is titled Rear View and the latest new line is ASSETS Red Hot Label,.  Their little video promos in Dillard’s are a hoot.

Men can get them too.  Sort of reminds one of the tail end of the  Roman Empire when generals who had gotten old and fat in the service of the emperor had their armor made with “six-pack abs” molded right into the metal.  Whatever works, I guess.

It’s all a far cry from the days described by Betty MacDonald in The Egg and I (source of the Ma and Pa Kettle movies)where she writes about the various regular sales persons who came to their chicken farm on the side of a mountain in Washington state.  One of them was “the Girdle Lady” (remember girdles?).  The author notes that at the time she was quite slender, though well-endowed enough in the upper stories.  When she was reluctantly persuaded to try on one of the garments, her description of herself in the mirror was that she looked like a test tube with something bubbling out of the top.

Top that, SPANX.

 

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