It’s school holidays which means parks all across Australia are packed with interesting conversation. In the holidays there’s no need for books or Blackberrys, the big issues are breaking next to the sand pit. So it was this week when I inadvertently became part of discussion about Kate Moss and a comment she made during an interview with UK Grazia magazine. Moss who’s been married to her guitarist husband Jamie Hince for almost a year said: “He would go mental if I started dressing like a wife! He likes me when I’m a rock n roll kind of a girl.”
The sand pit was outraged. Shocked. The mix of mums, working mums and mums-to-be were collectively appalled with opinions that ranged from:
“What’s she insinuating? That once women snare a man they stop dressing well and give up?”
“That’s the sort of dumb logic I do not want my daughter to hear. Ever”.
“What is a wife supposed to wear exactly?”
“I’m so offended. Does she mean that everyone that doesn’t dress like a groupie looks like a wife? Does wife equal dag?”
“ She can dress like that because she has a chef and a cleaner at home doing the work of a wife. She gets to be the mistress everyday – no school runs for her.”
“Can someone tell her that 1954 called and wants its attitude back – and also its poncho.”
It was heated stuff.
I remember reading this interview and having an initial reaction that wasn’t too dissimilar to my comrades in the park. Primarily it was careless. Yet another throwaway line from a woman of influence that would leave a lasting legacy in the Google cache. Kate’s quite good at this type of clanger. Her last endeavor was- “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” - an unbelievably dangerous bumper sticker from a young girl who didn't understand the power of her image (she was a teenager at the time). She certainly understands it better now.
As a journalist I know that Moss was probably massaged into 'the wife' comment via a leading question. Then said comment may have been paraphrased into said headline. (What? We all do it.) I suspect that the point she was trying to make or thought she was making was closer to this: when you get married, busy and comfortable in a relationship don’t forget the person you were before you met him. Her point was less about conservatism and more about effort. Effort is respect for yourself as much as it is respect for your partner.
I agree with that sentiment.
Stop throwing your coffee cups at the screen and hear me out…
I am in NO way suggesting that a woman should dress to please a man. Her man. Your man. All men. Ever. I do, however, strongly believe that the secret to a long, happy, balanced relationship is to finish the way you started. Part of that is clothes you came in on.
It just is.
Journalist Helen Kirwin-Taylor from the UK Daily Mail believes that Moss is right. Literally. She says: ” I would never think about sitting down for dinner with my husband without slipping into something stylish and alluring, brushing my hair and applying lipstick".
Bet you wished you’d saved the coffee cup for her now, huh? And there's more:
“Every morning I resist the temptation to simply stay in my pyjamas — such slobbishness is one of the downsides of working from home — and instead put on lipstick and decent, fitted clothes. For it is the very act of grooming that reminds me I am a woman — and hopefully an attractive one. And before my husband gets home, if I am feeling unkempt, I change again”.
Kirwin-Taylor's interpretation is a too Stepford for most. Certainly for me. Life will always get in the way of your wardrobe. It should. Sad days, blah days, sick days, hangovers, can’t-be-bothered days - if it weren’t for the bad there would never be any good. There would be no joy in a beautiful pair of shoes, a slick of red lipstick or a ball gown.
Every relationship - wife or not - will have many days when wearing pyjamas around the house is the reality. But I don’t think those days should become the normality. For him or for you. Long dresses and suits every night at dinner is ridiculous but the psychology behind the ideal is not. Perhaps Kate was trying to say that you can’t really love anyone else unless you love yourself. How you dress can be a direct reflection of that love and has far, far more to do with how you feel about yourself than how you feel about another.
She just doesn't really have a way with words.