Put it away dear!

Shelagh McKinlay questions if we're seeing a sexy fashion backlash

By Zoe Zahra 21/06/2012 10:08

Woman dressed sexily

This week has seen two of our poshest institutions turn into the fashion police.  Royal Ascot issued a new dress code for the Royal Enclosure which aims to make muffin tops and micro minis a thing of the past, and the pupils of top private school Cheltenham Ladies’ College have been issued with guidelines which dictate that there is no place for high heels and hot pants in that seat of learning.


These two refined bodies seem to be taking a stand against a trend for young women to associate getting dressed up with wearing as little as possible.  So, is this the start of a backlash against a look which is more Katie Price than Kate Middleton? If so, should we applaud it, or should we be worried that it’s an attempt to keep us in our place?


I admit that I’m not a fan of the way porn fashion has seeped into the mainstream. I’ve got no problem with women dressing provocatively.  If young women with tons of sexual confidence have got it and want to flaunt it, often in tops no bigger than a couple of post-it notes and shoes that resemble  alien space probes, good luck to them.


I’ve been saddened by the sight of goose-pimpled young girls, fake tanned to the deepest shade of oompa-loompa


But sometimes it’s hard to work out whether they’re undressed to the nines because they want to be, or because they feel it’s expected of them. I admit that on nights out in my own city, I’ve been saddened by the sight of goose-pimpled young girls, fake tanned to the deepest shade of oompa-loompa, tugging self-consciously at skirts that fail to cover their embarrassment. They just don’t look like they’re having fun.


However, if women are under pressure to dress more sexily than they are truly comfortable with, what’s the solution? How do we give women the confidence to cover up, if that’s what they want?


Questioning the vogue for dressing like a porn star may be a good thing


I don’t think it’s dictats from on high like these. The new Ascot rules may be a sign that the tide is turning against the trend for flashing lots of flesh.  They may also however just be the attempt of a certain class to stamp out what they consider to be vulgar. Questioning the vogue for dressing like a porn star may be a good thing, but not if it means we have to behave like a bunch of Victorians.


If there is to be a backlash against sexy fashion, I’d like it to be because we feel we have more control over how we look, not less.


Shelagh McKinlay is a writer and mother. Her interests include, politics, eating peanut butter with a spoon and George Clooney.
Follow Shelagh on Twitter @Shequeen
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