Open a magazine, turn on a TV, read the newspaper and you will invariably find an article calling someone “sexy”. Sexy has become the it word of the decade. So, what is considered sexy in our culture?
Sexy is a relative term – sexy is relative to the environment, to the occasion, to roles, and to the other people present in a situation. Imagine walking onto a college campus and looking at female professors and female students. Clearly, female students can wear clothing that female professors couldn’t get away with wearing. If the student wore a midriff-baring top, they would be accepted, considered sexy, and probably admired. If the professor wore the same top, she would be considered as dressing inappropriately – as being too sexy. If the student wore skin tight jeans, a skimpy top or a deep cut neckline, she might be pushing the edge of acceptable, but she wouldn’t be considered too sexy for the situation.
If the teacher wore any of those things, she would be too sexy for her role. So sexy is “role” related and role defined. Sexy is definitely related to the environment and to the role people are playing – teacher or student, for example. Sexy is also relative to the occasion and the location. The same student and female teacher could both get away with more provocative clothing if they were at a dance club, rather than in a teaching environment. And the amount of “detectable” cleavage would, on average, increase substantially in this night life environment. So what is sexy and what is acceptable varies considerably based on the environment.
In a dance club or bar, a woman will increase the various elements of sexy dressing in order to stand out as more sexy than others. What are these elements? Clearly, depth of the neckline is a major element in being considered sexy. The more cleavage showing, the sexier it is considered. But not always! This is only true if the observers think the cleavage is appropriate. On a shapely twenty-something, cleavage is a plus on the sexy scale. On a less shapely mid-aged woman, this is likely to be viewed as too much, and definitely not sexy.
What other elements make an outfit sexy? I looked at Yahoo answers where seven women answered the question, “What is the sexiest outfit you own? While one thought an expensive short black dress with her Manolo’s won, others felt that it was any outfit that boosts their self-confidence. Several mentioned boots, leather mini skirts, stilettos, or dark skinny jeans that boosts their bums. If you asked a man what he considered sexy in a woman, he might mention visible body parts rather than the actual clothing. We’ve talked about sexy being relative to the role and to the environment, but it is also relative to the occasion. A child’s birthday party would certainly have stricter limits. In fact, in a child centered gathering, it would be considered inappropriate to be overly sexy. Women would attempt to be stylish but not necessarily sexy. However, at a cocktail party, women would definitely try to be sexy. The dress, the shoes, the makeup would all be geared at giving a sexy image.
So, how does all this come together when women are getting dressed for a fantasy occasion such as Halloween? Women use this as a way of letting loose, of giving their imagination free reign, for acting as someone they might not feel comfortable acting like in their daily lives. A women might be defined as a mother, as a wife, as a teacher in their daily life. Those are roles and all roles have limitations and expectations. Women can get tired of those expectations. They can get tired of being what other people want them to be. They can be bored with being responsible, with being the soccer mom, with being Johnie’s Mom, with being the third grade teacher – they want to go back to their dreams of being a carefree, young, desirable women. With being sexy. With being fun. With being the opposite of responsible.
So, women love to wear sexy Halloween costumes so that they can return to their past, return to their dreams, and once more be the sexy woman they have always had inside. They strip their roles, and put on their sexy Pirate costume, or they put on the sexy Playboy costume and they become that woman – they become the sexy pirate. They become Miss October. They become everything that is fun in their personalities. So Halloween is a wonderful time for exploding out of societies expectation and returning to the fun woman they hold inside of themselves.