Monday, July 23, 2007


Today's port of call was rather dull and it's drizzling, so we've returned to the ship. After a very refreshing soak in one of the three outdoor Jacuzzis (water hot, air and raindrops cold, maximum bubbling from strong jets easing our poor necks, strained from all the craning of the last few days), we are chaise-lounging on the pool deck, wrapped in wool blankets. We feel like invalids cozily ensconced on the Titanic (pre-iceberg), as we read, scribble, doze and people-watch. And I'm noticing an interesting phenomenon, along the same lines I wrote about in an earlier post about Florida. Vacation dressing is yet another of the many things that men and women approach differently.

Cruises, like everything else, have become more casual in terms of dress. We haven't cruised in 13 years, and this time packing was a whole lot simpler. There's no "formal night" (how silly were those?), and even the night designated "jackets required for gentlemen; tie optional" was honored more in the breach. With very few exceptions, the men on board look rumpled. There's a lot of bedhead hair at breakfast, and disheveled, very comfortable-looking clothing is on display throughout the day. The men look, in short, like they're on vacation.

The women, on the other hand
are made up, coiffed and bejeweled. Their idea of cruisewear is often bizarre, but it's rarely higglety-pigglety. They're assembled rather than relaxed, no matter the time of day. Basically, the men look like the unmade bed in our suite just before the maid's arrival and the women look like the same bed immediately after her departure.

I tend to read a lot into these things (ask me sometime about the misogyny inherent in women's shoes), but I'm thinking the root cause of this vacation disparity might be makeup. Men don't wear it; lots of women have a hard time going anywhere in public without it. And once you've bothered to use makeup, things like arranging your hair, putting on jewelry, and doing more to assemble your outfit than simply choosing the nearest top and bottom in the closet seem more like necessary next steps than like too much trouble.

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