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The Guardian / Life - Entertain

Fried eggs and melons – why wink-wink T-shirts are not an ironic feminist statement

Reducing your bosoms to cheeky emojis is not the way to celebrate them, says our style expert in her weekly column. Plus: why daytime pyjamas look absurd

My daughter and I were in Topshop the other week and saw a T-shirt with a pair of breasts drawn on the front. Have the men got trousers with a willy outline on them?
A Thompson, by email

After exhaustive research, Ms Thompson, I can tell you conclusively that no, men are not walking around wearing trousers illustrated with willies or even symbols of willies (aubergines, chipolatas, etc, etc). Women, however, are so overwhelmed with what I guess we must call breast-themed shirts they can barely swing a bra without hitting one. Indeed, one could go as far as saying breast-themed shirts are currently the biggest trend on the high street, with shirts featuring drawings of actual breasts, or a pair of melons, or hearts or fried eggs currently on sale pretty much everywhere in this county. Indeed, one could say that breasts are HUGE in fashion this season, unless your breasts are not huge, in which case don’t worry, would madam like a T-shirt decorated with a pair of fried eggs? Ha – breasts! Hilarious!

Let’s just straight away knock on the head any suggestion that this trend is some kind of ironic Benny Hill feminist statement, OK? By all means, love your breasts, ladies. Be proud of them, unleash them from their restrictive lingerie and walk down the street with them swinging free, if it so pleases you, feeling your nipples nuzzle happily against your clothes. But reducing your magnificent bosoms to nudge-nudge wink-wink emojis is not the way to celebrate them, so let’s not pretend that this trend is anything other than attention-seeking to the most shameless degree. “Ha ha! Look at my melons! Geddit! GEDDIT???”

Women still, too often, have to fight for men to look up and into their eyes when talking to them; why actively encourage them to stare back down as they happily decode the visual pun on your chest? And why tell people that actually, yes, you love being reduced to your breasts and even people giving your breasts stupid food-based nicknames? Honestly, this is some hot nonsense. You’re better than this. Your breasts should not be the first thing people think of when looking at you any more than your bellybutton should be. Stop reducing yourselves to a single part of your anatomy. As Ms Thompson says, the menfolk don’t do this – and while I fully accept that saying “Do what the men do, ladies” is not the most feminist order one could make, in this case, a mighty exception is being made.

Naomi Campbell in PJs. Photograph: Farrell/BFA/REX/Shutterstock

WTF is with the trend with wearing pyjamas in the day?
Charlotte, north London

Given that I am writing this in my pyjamas at 11.06am, I’m going to assume that you mean pyjamas as genuinely sanctioned daywear and not just being lazy (look, I’m really ill, OK?). Pyjamas have, indeed, become daywear; at least pyjamaesque clothes have, anyway, if not actual pyjamas. Because what would be the point of that? Pity the poor manufacturers, constantly having to think of ways to make people buy new clothes. After all, even they know there are only so many shirts and dresses and trousers a person can own, hence the occasional deranged proclamation of an entirely new item you absolutely must have in your wardrobe. Two years ago, for instance, the decree was issued that women should wear “swimwear as daywear”, but this did not mean it was OK to go out in that manky bikini you bought from Accessorize in Luton airport five years ago. No, it meant you had to go out and buy a £250 bathing suit from one of those fancy boutiques in Notting Hill or somewhere similar that never seem to have any customers in them and that you strongly suspect might be a front for money laundering.

Which brings us back to the pyjamas-for-daywear trend. Obviously, you should not wear your actual pyjamas out of the house – that would look insane! (Except on weekends, when you are totally allowed to wear them under a coat to pop to the newsagent for emergency milk/bread/newspapers. That is an official rule, all debates on this subject can now desist.) But you should absolutely spend £395 on fancy pyjamas and go out in those, because nothing makes a woman seem closer to sanity than spending almost £400 on a pair of PJs, right?

I love pyjamas. Whenever I go back to the US, I always make sure to restock on my two life essentials: Twizzlers and J Crew pyjamas. On extra good days, I find ones with fancy embroidery on the breast pocket, which are the absolute best because they make me feel like Sesame Street’s Alistair Cookie, Cookie Monster’s homage to a certain Brit, who is a long-term fashion icon of mine.

I also love any fashion trend that actively endorses comfort. Athleisure? Normcore? Mom jeans? You’re talkin’ my language. So while my head wants to love the idea of pyjamas as daywear, my heart cannot accept it. Partly because I know, deep down, as you know, Charlotte, deep down, that it looks absurd. But mainly because my pyjamas are way too nice to spoil by being worn out of the house or even, God forbid, on public transport. They should be saved for the best place of all: bed. After all, you never saw Alistair Cookie hitting the street in his dressing gown, did you? No, he wisely stayed in his armchair, eating his cookies, reading his books about a number one making a historic flight over a cuckoo’s nest, or a bunch of angry men who needed to be tallied up and other great classics. Case, I think we can all agree, is closed.

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