Simplicity 1466- lest I offend


Alright everyone, let’s take our seats- it’s time for a serious talk about a possibly uncomfortable subject. No, not SPANX- that’s been pretty well-covered. I’m talking about Clothing diversity. Yes, Clothing Diversity. Familiar? Its ok, I just made up the term. Now we all know that imitating a person’s accent or culture is not cool. Even if you don’t honestly mean to be offensive- you probably have. But what about appropriating a person’s national dress? When does homage become Paris Hilton dining at Nobu in a shorty Geisha costume she got at Party City? Can a person manage to swing past the tacky costumy feel of a direct cultural knock off and be as acceptable as a Nehru jacket on a Ken doll?

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You all knew this was coming- my Bollywood summer madness debut. It started with an embarrassing Simplicity Harem girl pattern. I wanted to take that part to my grave, but a pattern review needs pattern accuracy, right? So I’m going to admit that I research Kameez suit pants patterns and darned if this costume wasn’t right on the money. So I used a homespun muslin business with a thin gold pin stripe and then tapered the legs in about 3 inches, adding 2 to the length and then I gently gathered the outer leg about 6 inches into 3 to get that elephant ankle effect.

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***I meant like the children’s book!  The saggy-baggy elephant- this was in no way an attempt to add even more dubious cultural web strands to this possibly inflammatory post***

Ok, as you know I’ve been circling pinterest and even Vogue India online to drool and plot. I decided that the obvious tunic styles with blousy sleeves and embroidery would be seriously ‘I got it at a little shop at the port!- isn’t it darling? ’ So I went in a less obvious direction- Simplicity 1466. I’ve submitted to sleeveless again!

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It feels kind of retro- but dressy. Cutting Question, Simplicity! What’s the point of that center seam? It isn’t even curved for fit purposes- it’s just there to make me match a print again?! When I do my standard fit moves, I angle the upper neck on all bodices in about 1 inch, so I just didn’t bother with that seam at all. Hello pattern match. Now as you know- I am built not like the proverbial brick shit house, but like a classical Egyptian icon- a thing to gather around and worship, marveling at its design- yes, a pyramid. So I can get anything with a fit and flair shape over my head without a zipper- it’s my skillset. Show me a fit and flare straight jacket and me and MacMurphy are busting out of this Cuckoo’s nest with only minimal mussing of the hair!

My only other change was no interfacing- the stretch twill was heavy enough to not need it. So I bothered not a bit.

Now, down the hall, I hear the stirrings of my personal chauffeur Husband. He awakens. I will give him 15 minutes to mainline coffee, pet the dogs and start up World of Warcraft- then I shall spring my fab, FAB, FFAABB! New look on him.

I gussy up and head into the computer lair. I warn him that the overhead light is going on. I do a slow

Prancing Fantasia Hippo turn. I beam, I await praise. Nothing.

Well, not nothing, I did get a look of terrified horror. He looked at me like I was wearing blackface. Seriously. He looked like if he’d had access to a blanket and a divorce lawyer he would have thrown both of them over me. I start saying ‘What, what, what?’ in ever increasing shrill tones.

He finally speaks and tells me that I cannot possible leave the house and go to work in those pants- they are so ‘on the nose’ that I will offend every doctor on our GI staff. He backpedals at the look of crushed sorrow on my face- he likes the top maybe with leggings, but the pants- no, nononononono!!!!!!!

So ok, I put them on the back burner and puzzled over what the problem is. I would never dream of wearing a Bindi or having a Chinese character tattooed on my leg that I had no idea what the social ramifications entailed, but the pants of another culture? If they aren’t Nazi uniform pants- aren’t I safe?

I’m on a slippery slope in buttered Doc Martins, me thinks. Just because you don’t mean to offend- doesn’t mean you don’t. Perhaps I need to try to walk a mile in another man’s moccasins- crap! Forget I wrote that! I don’t think we say that anymore. Focus! How would I feel if someone ran around in my national dress. Ok, honestly, I’d want to know why they couldn’t be bothered to spruce up a little. I

mean really. Didn’t we invent the jammie pants/hoodie combo? Jeans and camo? Feel free to take that and run with it other nations- I’ll stay busy trying to run from it.

Ok, little enablers- here’s your chance to weigh in on the pants of perdition or the Leggings of Lamentation!

Set phasers on stun and let me know if this outfit should be buried or loved and embraced.

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Do you shriek? Do you recoil?

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No one shot at me or threw eggs- I think I’m kind of safe and you know what? I am soooo comfortable! I love this fabric- Mary Jo’s in Gastonia for the win!

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Oh, come on- tell me this isn’t fun!! Look how well I match the railing!

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photo credits: meadhawg, google images, pattern review. All images remain the property of their original owners.

80 thoughts on “Simplicity 1466- lest I offend

  1. jenny says:

    I think that your outfit is absolutely beautiful and fits you even more beautifully! I am in envy! I cannot imagine how this would offend anyone, in any way, whatsoever! It would never occur to me as such. Don’t even think such a thing as that!

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  2. Carol says:

    Had you presented this outfit without the explanation first, I wouldn’t have even looked for possible insult. I think it’s cute, looks comfortable and you look wonderful in it. Thanks for bringing this pattern to my attention – it’s going on my wish list for the next $1 sale!

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  3. Anne, it’s a really pretty look on you, love it and tell the hubs the ladies say you look fab! WOW has a way of changing one’s fashion perspective, perhaps? (I have one who sits in the dark lair on WOW as well. Hell, our DH’s may play together online and we wouldn’t even know it.)

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  4. I am highly sensitive to the issues on cultural cross dressing and I know you are too. Not sure about your husband! You have written about it in a very funny, but absolutely PC way.

    Your outfit it’s a really nice summer set made in cute fabrics. I don’t think most people would even understand that it is a second cousin once removed to a shalwar kamise.

    I have made and worn an African head wraps and full length skirt and matching top in African fabrics and been admired by African friends and people in the street alike. If you do it with respect it is 100% accepatable and welcomed. If you get a “dressing up” version of a female Native American on the internet you have only yourself to blame if you get duffed up on the tube (oops, excuse the cross cultural mix ups).

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Such an anticlimax! 😉 I was expecting something profoundly absurd or insulting (but really, I, myself, have a husband with questionable fashion taste at times, so I should have known better). I think you look wonderful. It’s a flattering, and beautifully cool and summery looking outfit. If I hadn’t read the lead up, I would have said the same.

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  6. I think that is the most subtle harem pant I’ve ever seen! I was completely expecting full gathered cuff and high-waisted Aladdin pants before getting to the photos! You can totally wear those because you didn’t get all costumey with the rest of the outfit or any of the fabrics. Love your fabric choices! =)

    I have an artsy friend who often wears pretty tunic tops from India. Somehow they work on her (I don’t think I could make them work for me) – I think it’s partly because she wears them with jeans style pants and she’s tall. I also know an older lady who looks great in Asian styles who isn’t Asian. If you wear something like you own the look, you can wear almost anything without anyone questioning it.

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  7. splendidcakes says:

    I really had to think about this, as I am a flaming left wing bleeding heart liberal who studied Japanese Cultural Arts in college and pride myself on cultural and just-in-general sensitivity. Our family motto is “We may be white but we really try not to act like it” !
    I even called over my son to double check my reaction, and he did perfectly by saying “What? They’re pants!” We enlarged the image to be sure. I don’t know if your working with doctors from India makes him hypersensitive (which is certainly understandable), but I really don’t see it. As long as you don’t buy a Jasmine costume the next time you’re at Disney I think you’re o.k.

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  8. In my opinion, this outfit reads as fashion, not cultural appropriation. It’s something I think lots about, especially since I live in a super diverse neighborhood and I wouldn’t want to hurt someone’s feelings by wearing their culture as a costume. But these are super toned down for kameez, so I can’t really imagine anyone being offended or even recognizing the original inspiration. I really like this pant cut on you!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I like the shape of the trousers on you. A friend of mine, born in Sri Lanka, came over one day to show me how to put on a sari my mother bought me whilst she was in India, and was really, really keen for me to wear it to a function we were both going to (evening dress). She didn’t think it would be cultural appropriation, in fact she couldn’t understand why I wanted to sew with it instead. She wore a sari and looked beautiful, and I wore an ordinary dress and felt better in it than I would have in a sari.
    . Maybe we are oversensitive? I would have felt silly wearing a sari, but these trousers – perfectly comfortable and cool looking, and beautifully paired with the tunic. I agree with gingermakes, they are toned down and look like a fashion garment.
    As for husbands, mine has an aversion to anything “new” and and even worse one to anything “different”. Your results might vary 😉

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Leigh Ann says:

    I think it’s cute. I honestly can’t see why it would offend anyone. You’re wearing it as an outfit, not a costume. I’m not sure most people would get the allusion anyway.

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  11. I think this is a good look for you. I suspect one major difference between your outfit and much of the controversial/inappropriate culturally appropriated exhibitions is that this is something that you’ve thoughtfully infused with your own personality and are planning to wear yourself. You aren’t trying to pretend it’s some grand artistic statement you can’t explain and you aren’t trying to make money by selling it off to others.
    On a related note, I sometimes have wondered if, at some point, couldn’t the extreme of a complete avoidance of wearing anything that could possibly stem from another culture turn into a whole new level of insult? As in sending a message of (with all possible sarcasm here) “you from that ‘other’ culture could join me in wearing my ‘privileged’ clothes, but I’m too different to wear yours.” Not that there is ever sufficient cause to exploit others, but it seems like excluding inspirations from specific cultures in the name of “protecting them from exploitation” could be just as damaging as inappropriate approproation, just in a different way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow- who knew I could inspire deep thoughts! I guess it realistic impossible to get dressed in the morning without infusing someone’s culture into your dress!

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  12. Looks like a pair of really stylish trousers to me – love ’em and wear ’em! If you had added bells around the ankles and and hath panjas on your hands – that might have been a step too far.

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  13. Gorgeous. As a teen I used to wear similar black pants and had several knee length loose fitting tunics in exotic fabrics that were very Kamisesque. It was a great look. I love this look and it isn’t at all dubious, as many have already said. Avoid the bindi and curly toed shoes, or possible pony tail coming out of a mini fez, and you should be fine 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Great pants, great outfit, that’s all! Isn’t fashion all about cultural (mis)appropriation anyhow?? I’m trying to appropriate having style and money and looking like Jackie Kennedy…or something like that. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  15. karen says:

    I generally just adapt my tried and true patterns for new looks, but I loved the 1466 so much that I ordered it. Now, please note, I am not happy with Simplicity’s decision not to sell patterns to Canadian stores anymore. For me to order online, I really love the pattern!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Very nice. I often wear Indian tops in the summer, and although I didn’t buy them at the port, I did get them on a High street near the school I worked at. As long as you aren’t doing fancy dress, I think it’s fine. And even then tbh…I think we worry too much. I wore a cheong sam , chinese jacket and black wig on world book day some years ago, with the excuse that I was Dr Han SuYin from ‘Love is a Many Splendoured thing’. A chinese student darted in, said I looked like his mum, and dashed out again. Didn’t seem offended!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. They are fabulous. Wear them. Did you see the harem pants I made recently? I’ve been wearing them almost every other day since I made them. I haven’t worn them to work yet but I have worn them out to the store and to eat. J snorts a little when I put on the printed ones but he says he likes them.

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  18. I love it. Definitely wear it. I guess I’m just a born rebel but I’m 100% in favor of copying clothes from other cultures if you like. As long as there’s not a swastika on it there’s no problem and if anyone else has a problem with it that’s their problem.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I just wrote about this a couple weeks ago on my blog because I made something out of Vlisco fabric and I have complicated feelings about it. I try to err on the side of caution with these sorts of things, but I really don’t look at your pants and immediately think that they look appropriative. As another commenter said, if you hadn’t told me, I’m not sure I would have even realized they were inspired by South Asian fashion! I used to not have such a complex view of these things and actually wore saris and salwar kameezes when I visited India many years ago. I wouldn’t do that today, but I feel decently familiar with the clothes and to me, it doesn’t look like you’re trying to copy them. I think this is a great look on you and you should wear it with pride!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I think the pants and top look great on you. I lived in India for 3 years and wore salwar kameez frequently. I’d describe your outfit as merely inspired by Indian clothing, not an attempt to copy. Typical salwars (the pants) are much fuller; they are either gathered or pleated in the front. A typical kameez/kurta (the tunic top) usually has some sort of detail or trim around the neckline, and around the sleeves or hem. In any case, you look cool and classy in your outfit. Nice job.

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  21. I like the top and pants! I think you wear the pants well! I don’t think it is a style for everyone though. I like the subtle metallic in the pants fabric. Love Mary Jo’s have not been there in a long, long time.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Don’t all good designers borrow from other cultures? Just count yourself as a borrower but in a good way. The top fits great with perfect colors and motif sizes and the pants are just fun and practical and comfortable…who needs more. Husbands are just a backdrop for your specialness. Mine thinks everything should be symmetrical…how foolish! You see how may comments you get when you hit the nail on the head…women see you and want to be you…and own your clothes!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. As a British Indian, someone who wears indian outfits occasionally, has sewn one and plans to sew more, I am not in the least offended by these. I think they look great and you should wear them and be proud!

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  24. redsilvia says:

    I think you look cute. It’s a perfectly normal pants silhouette. You don’t look costumey, just cute.

    I think your husband just wants you to wear tight sexy things.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Sharon Nichols says:

    Your outfit looks fab! Where it with pride. Love the fabric on the pants. Perfect!

    I’m really out of the loop. I would never have thought wearing another cultures clothes would be offensive. I mean, if someone were deranged enough to want to copy the way I dress (not that they would – believe me), then I would think they were nuts or take it as a compliment, but I would never think to be offended. Oh well, I must live a sheltered life.

    Laughed my ass off reading your blog. You are so friggin funny!

    Liked by 1 person

  26. knitgirl23 says:

    I love it and wouldn’t change a thing. Your introduction had be waiting to go “Oh Anne No!” but then I scrolled down and was like, “That is fab.”

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  27. I think it’s so unfair that other culture can wear western clothing without being accused of being disrespectful while we can’t borrow their highly evolved dress code without offending. I mean our culture is still stuck on designing only for stick insect while many of the older civilization has worked out how to make women of all shapes and sizes look good.

    Like your Indian subcontinent inspired outfit for example. I’ve seen it work so well for young girls and matriarchs. So why shouldn’t you be allowed to look as good? I think trying to westernize it a bit to avoid offending might actually be more offensive. It’s like Fortune Cookie. Or Old Hollywood’s version of the Chinese Mandarin! I prefer the longer length of the original Kameez top along with the softer fabric used for the Shalwar pants which make the drapes look more elegant. Maybe it’s the angles of these photos, your top look shorter and not quite covering the bum. With drape at the bum too short a length might not be flattering. But I do like your fabric and the outfit looks so comfy. The top looks like it would be would with other bottoms too.

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