Begging on panted knees: How about just “suits?”

As the news coverage of Sen. Hillary Clinton’s impending address to the Democratic convention intensifies, I brace myself, cringing, for one last round of obedient journalistic attention to the “PANTsuit.”  Have you ever noticed the way broadcast newsbozos always stress the first syllable far more than necessary?  PANTsuit.  Sheesh, we get it.  She’s wearing clothes.

And now that it’s 2008 already, why the modifier?  I notice that Sen. Obama is never pointed out as wearing a PANTsuit.  Indeed, he is wearing a pair of pants and a jacket that matches.  If his clothing is referred to at all, it’s referred to as a suit.  Which we all understand, because men are known to wear those, and it’s appropriate to wear while applying to be America’s executive-in-chief.

Is it news to journalists everywhere that women in executive positions don’t go to work in trailing ball gowns?  Of course Clinton’s also wearing a pair of pants and a matching jacket.  It’s a suit.  IT’S A DAMN SUIT!  Yes, I get that she can occasionally mix it up with a skirt.  That still doesn’t render it necessary to point out every time she sticks with the eminently sensible choice of pants, which men regularly choose to wear without comment.

Either that, or start conducting convention coverage of all those men in PANTsuits.  Sigh.

19 thoughts on “Begging on panted knees: How about just “suits?”

  1. And to my now-British ear, it always sounds like “underwear-suit”!! Damn good point, ProfBigK.

  2. Please excuse what could look like a defense of the MSM, which I would be reluctant to do.

    I can remember the days when a women was not allowed all sorts of places in pants. In fact, as a student of Anscombe’s, I was sometimes asked to hunt for a dress that she could wear into guest night at a men’s college. (I remember particularly finding a bunched up little thing at the back of a drawer.) There’s a nice story, quite possibly true, of her going out to dinner in NYC and being told by the maitre d’ that she could NOT enter in pants. So she took them off.

    Of course, in those days women wore suits, but they never had pants, as least not civilian suits. Then suddenly came the idea of the pant suit, which hit London around 1964 or so. And since it was top fashion, one could wear it places. I don’t think I had seen one before 1965, when I got to Oxford, though a friend of mine was already famous for her red pant suit, which was quite the thing in Oxford. (That is, that particular garment was quite the thing.)

    So “pant suit” sounds a bit dated to me, but not odd, just because for so long “suit” excluded pants. In 1960, if someone recommended that one wear a nice little suit to an interview, it was completely definitely expected that it would not have pants.

    Now I’m going to let my creeky bones rest.

  3. I was wondering whether it was a trouser suit in England and pant suit in the US, which is quite possible.

  4. Yes, exactly, jj proves my point: Hillary Clinton wears suits inappropriate to 1965. Exactly! In a mainstream media (I persist in calling them newsbozos) which finds the Iraq War to be old news and Britney Spears no longer hot, how hard is it to update schema which are forty-freaking-years old? Catch UP, newsbozos!

    Not one of them, not a one, would refer to the candidates’ cell-phones as CORDLESS phones. Heaven forfend. Nor would they refer to their iPods as “digital musical storage devices.” But to keep us all reminded, sharply, that this ambitious woman is not in her usual place, we have to hear that she’s wearing a PANTsuit.

    And of course a skirt and matching jacket can also constitute a suit. But is it requisite to let us know exactly which kind of suit someone’s wearing from day to day? Do they stop the show when McCain sports a double-breasted instead of a single-breasted jacket? Sheesh.

  5. JJ
    Thanks! You just gave me a pleasant memory of my mother (since she died a few years back I am always happy to get an unexpected 1). She was a child during the depression when there was absolutely nothing, not even food everyday, let alone new fabric to make clothes, she was 1 of the kids who actually had to wear dresses made out of burlap to school (talk about psychological trauma from teasing!) so she was extremely conscious of clothes even though we were so poor, she was great at sewing and crocheting (flash to the horrid photos of me as a child in the 70s with the crocheted shawls and goucho pants).
    Anyway she was always making clothes or taking in laundry for both extra money and clothes designs. Needless to say she was always ranting about how people dress, she never in her 66 years wore a pair of jeans or sweats or a tshirt and never let me until I was older & my sister bought them.
    She had this thing about me wearing pretty skirts to school and would go on and on about how they were NEVER allowed to wear any kind of pants in school and what a huge deal it was Mary Tyler Moore first wore capris on the Dick Van Dike show and Lucille Ball started wearing pants and capris (I later learned the history of the rules for this on the tele then, wow it is easier now for people to be naked on TV than it was for LUcille Ball to wear pants then). She ALWAYS distinguished between a skirt suit and a pant suit, but in a liberatory way. In her 1st job at the candy counter at Woolworth’s she HAD to wear skirt suits, pants would have gotten her sent home, so, when women began being allowed to wear pants suits it was a huge liberatory deal not to have to wear skirts while walking to work everyday.
    In her ill years she often recalled with great fondness the `1st day she could wear a pants suit to work. She also worked at a factory and in the early 50’s had to wear a skirt or dress even to that as all the women there did (a bid to keep the jobs to the men??? I did factory work and burned up and could barely move in tshirts and shorts let alone a shirt or dress (we werent allowed to wear shorts but when it is 95 outside a plastic factory is about 130 inside, sucks for 12 hours shifts!).
    So the find liberatory memories of my mothers pants suits have been appropriated by men now to degrade women, nice. One of the very small handfull of my mothers fond memories being used against another woman, so typically american it is nauseating!
    Again, thanks for reminding me of the history (at least for my mom) of the word pant suit.
    BTW what they should be talking about instead is how criminal it is to spend that much money on any suit while people they are asking to come vote for them go hungry.

  6. Jonathan,
    A few more memories :) according to my mom if the skirt and the jacket were not a definite set sold as a suit it was a skirt and a jacket, pants and a jacket, separately, even if they matched, changed to slacks and a blazer. Slacks, now that is a word that sounds dated now, I don’t think I’ve even thought the word slacks in years! I will start calling all my pants but jeans and sweats slacks now, it will be happy (yes I guess it takes little for me!).

  7. ilovefanon,
    And you are reminding me of my father’s insistence on the difference for men between coats and jackets. I never got it and don’t remember it. Perhaps it was that suits had jackets and coats definitely were not part of a pair.

  8. PBK– that ‘cordless phone’ example is perfect!! JJ– I continue to be baffled by the conflicting things I hear about Anscombe. There’s stories like yours, and the fact that she kept her name, then there’s all the right-wing Catholic stuff. Can you shed any light?

  9. Hmm…has anyone seen any comments/criticism of Laura and Condi re their “pant suits”? I’ve not noticed any. Golly, wonder what that means….

  10. Did anyone see David Letterman ripping on this last night? He was hilarious, he announced that he was wearing a pantsuit as well. It will come up on the free TV episodes on AOL, they always do the next day if anyone wants to see it. I guess it annoyed him just as much. Now he is someone I would vote for just for being him.

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