Lin Yutang? Sydney J. Harris? Carl Bakal? Anonymous?
Question for Quote Investigator: The kaleidoscopic world of fashion contains fluctuating hemlines, shifting necklines, transparent fabrics, and revealing slits. A pundit once stated that fashion embodies the struggle between the admitted desire to dress and the unadmitted desire to undress. Would you please explore the provenance of this remark?
Reply from Quote Investigator: In 1937 “Vogue” magazine published an essay by Chinese linguist and inventor Lin Yutang which discussed contemporary fashion. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:1
At present, probably the most sophisticated innovation is the long gown with a high slit at the sides, coming away above the knees. The instinct, I feel, is essentially French. For women’s dress is most bewitching when there is a subtle interplay between the art of concealment and the art of revelation. All women’s dresses, in every age and country, are merely variations on the eternal theme of struggle between the admitted desire to dress and the unadmitted desire to undress.
Additional details and citations are available in the article on the Medium platform which is located here.
Image Notes: Dress with a revealing slit from WedMaid Dresses at Unsplash. The image has been cropped.
Acknowledgement: Great thanks to the anonymous person whose inquiry led QI to formulate this question and perform this exploration.
 1937 July 1, Vogue, Volume 90, Issue 1, Features: A Chinawoman’s Chance by Lin Yutang, Start Page 42, Quote Page 42, Column 1, Condé Nast, New York, (ProQuest)