Throughout the reading of this paper, I really couldn’t tell if the author was being overly sexist or feminist. There were certain lines and quotes that just rubbed me the wrong way. Perhaps it’s just the culture we have established now, but I really hate the fact that women ever had to dress a certain way in order to look professional and get ahead. I realize that was just a result of the time and expectations back then, but it just seems so foreign now.
For example, the following passage that was quoted from Molloy just strikes me as a bit condescending towards women:
The results of wardrobe engineering can be remarkable. By making adjustments in a woman’s wardrobe we can make her look more successful and better educated. We can increase her chances of success in the business world; we can increase her chances of becoming a top executive; and we can make her more attractive to various types of men.
It just seems to suggest that women are not successful or well-educated. I would hope that this is not the case, but I can’t really tell not having that particular reading in front of me. I understand the ignorance of certain people during this time frame at thinking women were not as intelligent as men or deserved to not be paid as much, but this quote just seemed to be a little bit of a blatant dig at women.
Perhaps it was the fact that men have always worn suits in the business world, but it just seemed that hiring stylists to help women to look better and smarter was a bit over the top. Making men look more masculine hardly seems to be
A comparison that I draw to this, but with a much more positive and non-condescending tone (at times) is TLC’s show What Not to Wear. Granted, Stacey and Clinton can be a bit…ummmm…frank about women’s less than stellar initial wardrobes, I feel like they always strive to play up particular body styles of the women and cater to their personality. The paper mentioned certain instances of individualism in the clothing, but Molloy’s idea of dressing just seemed a little bit too prescriptive and hardly individualistic.
It’s a hard call to make for what the author actually thinks in regards to feminism and individuality, and obviously Entwistle recognized that Molloy may be a bit outdated. The following quote is from page 216 and speaks of Melanie Griffith in the film Working Girl definitely made me question what the author thought of this idea that the movie brought out:
The moral of this story is a highly individualistic one which emphasizes that all a girl needs to succeed is self-motivation and good standards of dress and grooming.
I’ll agree with the fact that a girl (or boy for that matter) does need great self-motivation and good standards of dress and grooming. Pretty people tend to be more approachable and likable, especially if they have nice clothing and smell good, but I don’t think that’s all you need to get ahead in the world. The author doesn’t really talk about how they view this “moral” of the movie. It’s interesting that it is mentioned by the author, though, at least for me.
Overall, it’s an interesting overview of the history of how power dressing came to be, and perhaps that’s why the author doesn’t really assert much of their own thoughts on the issue. Just some things that struck me while I was reading the piece. Take them or leave them.