What’s all the fuss about women in trouser suits being confused about their gender?

29 Jul

A fashionista row has broken out in the US over a ‘style guru’s’ comments suggesting that women who wear trouser suits may be ‘confused about their gender’.

The fashion adviser in question, Tim Gunn, a judge on Project Runway, was talking about Hillary Clinton’s dress sense in particular – but the issue seems to have been taken up generally by commentators who are outraged or find his comments anachronistic or ridiculous. Here’s a link to Tim Gunn’s comments on fashion website Styleite.com.

After the comments about Mrs Clinton’s ‘mannish’ appearance, she was subsequently seen wearing pink and pearls – though it would be pure speculation to imply that the two were linked.

What do I think about this? I don’t see businessmen being critiqued as harshly for what they wear to meetings – whether the knot of their tie is fashionable enough, the colour combination too drab, or their cufflink choice too garish. The appearance of high-profile women is analysed down to the finest detail – and that seems to be part and parcel of life in the spotlight. There’s also the suggestion that women have to become like men in order to have clout on the political and business stage – and I’m sure there would be ridicule if Mrs Clinton suddenly started wearing floaty feminine numbers.

However, from my own perspective, I have recently cleared my entire wardrobe of trouser suits. When I first became a manager, I power dressed with sharp lines and even sharper toes – and felt my power suits gave me more authority. It was only when I settled into my role and began to feel more confident in what I was doing that I eased into smart dresses. Now, I can pack a punch in a beautifully cut dress with statement accessories and I feel confident and authoritative, thank you very much.

In short, I don’t feel I have to dress in a masculine way to hold my own.


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