September 28, 2015

"The proper skirt suit is dead, long live the thought-provoking skirt suit."

From a NYT fashion article titled "At Prada, Reinventing the Power Suit."
Was it when women decided that they should stop trying to dress like their male peers, because power did not preclude femininity, and floral dresses invaded the C-suite (see: Michelle Obama)? Was it when Angela Merkel settled on a brightly colored jacket and black trousers as her uniform of choice, and every other female politician seemed to follow up with her version of the same?... It’s unclear, but these days Carly Fiorina is not the only person who wants to bring it back....
The "thought-provoking" skirt suits at Prada look way too silly to be usable by a woman who wants trust and influence. The thoughts provoked would be along the lines of: You can't be serious.

But I think the skirt suit should come back. How perfectly arrayed for the debate Carly Fiorina looked in that blue suit. That's much better than all those awful trousers older women have been relying on. Not to pick on Hillary, but that pantsuit she wore to her granddaughter's birthday is incomprehensibly bad. (Normally, it shouldn't matter what a woman wears to a 1-year-old's birthday party, but the press was given a view, so I'm judging it as a deliberate political photo op.)

30 comments:

rhhardin said...

because power did not preclude femininity, and floral dresses invaded the C-suite

Pussy power.

lgv said...

I don't think the sheer skirt will work well in the C suite, but I could be wrong. Another problem is that C suite female execs don't look like the models.

What's with the lipstick? Always remember to wipe your lips if you eat a hot dog with mustard on it.

Ann Althouse said...

" invaded the C-"

Rape culture is everywhere.

Brando said...

Before adopting a look that borrows from the "men's suit" we should consider whether the men's suit itself is due for an overhaul. The men's suit hasn't changed much in the past hundred years--small adjustments like no longer wearing vests or tie width are all we've seen over the years.

Ann Althouse said...

Designers are always trying to figure out variations on the men's suit. It never works in the end, because the men's suit is too perfect.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I think it is very sexist to focus on what women wear. It's very disrespectful

That's why, whenever I'm talking to a woman, or seeing one on tv, I try to visualize them naked. Out of respect.

Ann Althouse said...

Here's the book that explains it: "Sex and Suits," by Anne Hollander.

"Dress was equally showy for men & women until the late 18th century, when natural simplicity & understatement became fashionable, but for men's clothes only. After that, obvious sexual display in dress was left to women. Hollander shows how modern women adapted men's tailoring to their richer scheme of display, making suits do for women what they had long done for men: show their sexuality to be central, serious & interesting, rather than irrational, shallow & dangerous."

rhhardin said...

Remember that they're selling these clothes to women, not men.

rhhardin said...

Tim Blair reports on a weekend co-worker spread on power women in the news business, that they forced her to wear nice clothes and put on makeup.

Michael K said...

This is one more indicator of Carly Power. Meet the Press was another example. The Democrat/Feminist power structure is in panic.

Who do they have besides Hillary ?

Under the age of 75, I mean.

Skeptical Voter said...

Incomprehensibly bad? In that photo Hillary looks like the German battlecruiser Graf Spee in cargo shorts. After I saw that picture I wanted to rip my eyes out to erase the memory.

She's in her late 60's, she's not in the best of health, and she's picking up a little (well a lot of) weight. But that's no reason to make it look worse than it is. And with the gazillion dollars in the Clinton Foundation (aka the "family piggy bank") she ought to be able to buy some decent clothes.

Martha said...

Hillary's electric blue Ralph Lauren pantsuit is hideous looking—especially when viewed in full when she plops down on a smallish chair (see the Lena Dunham interview). Her legs are accentuated and they are not her best feature. I wish she would return to the understated black pantsuit of her 2000 Senate campaign.

Mac McConnell said...

"Designers are always trying to figure out variations on the men's suit. It never works in the end, because the men's suit is too perfect."

Brooks Brothers suits for women of the 1970s & 1980s were basically those "too perfect" suits for women. Women looked serious and still feminine.

rhhardin said...

My career never involved looking masculine.

dbp said...

I would not blame the pantsuit. Hillary Clinton has gotten really broad in the beam and good tailoring can only accomplish so much.

Carly Fiorina looks good in everything because she has a nice figure. It remains somewhat debatable whether or not women's or men's fashion if better at hiding flab. It is certainly true that mem like Rand Paul and Ben Carson, look a lot better in suits than Chris Christie or Donald.

Bob said...

I'm sorry this is off topic, but somebody, please buy those Prada models a sandwich! How do they even stand up?

C Stanley said...

Was that pantsuit she wore to the birthday party made of denim? Looked a bit like mom jeans with a matching blazer.

She does have a knack for picking unflattering clothing (which is odd because surely she has a stylist picking for her.)It's true she's older and overweight but there's no reason that she should look as unattractive as she usually does.

C Stanley said...

The runway models these days always look terrible but it's particularly bad to put them in clothing that is meant to be for grownups. It heightens the absurdity.

damikesc said...

Perhaps this is why women are cold in offices...

Birches said...

Eegads! As you posted yesterday: Good undergarments are vital. Hillary! should not be out without a lot of spandex. She needs to go for the full knee to boob contraption.

Big Mike said...

@Althouse, if you had more contacts in the business world you'd realize that the skirt suit never completely left.

Thanks for saying that men's suit is perfect, but it evolves pretty continuously (Brando notwithstanding) and it's been evolving since the 18th century. It evolved particularly in the latter 19th century when the jacket was shortened to its present length replacing the long frock coat. If you watch the gunfight at the OK Corral from the movie "Tombstone" (set in 1881), Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer are wearing frock coats -- on the way out -- while Bill Paxton and Sam Elliott are wearing "town coats," which are longer than today's jackets but much shorter than the frock coats. Note that during the Civil War officers wore frock coats while enlisted men wore shell jackets, so what seems to have been changing in the post Civil War era is the acceptability of shorter coats for middle class and eventually upper class men. The modern tuxedo with its shorter jacket was first worn by a group of young wealth men in 1886.

I might add that there was an evolution at the firm where I worked in the final years I worked there. After yet another reorganization I found myself working for a transplanted Californian. He showed up at our first staff meeting wearing a business suit and blue dress shirt with button down collars, but no tie. Before long the entire engineering staff in our east coast office was wearing a suit or sport coat to work, but no tie. (We kept a tie in our desk drawer in case we had to go visit a government office, since the government staff still wore ties, poor fellows.)

missred said...

I cast off wearing trousers when I could no longer find ones that either zipped on the side or back. I never did like the front fly zip on women (or rather me). I have been wearing dresses, skirts and jackets/sweaters ever since. Whether I am in the office or out to play. I do not engage in energetic sports that would require sliding and such. But for everything else, a skirt will do. Oh and yoga pants - because that is obvious.

Cacimbo Cacimbo said...

Julianna Margulies in "The Good Wife" makes suit wearing sexy. The Prada suits look more like clown wear. Pelosi is another women who dresses nicely and wears a suit well. Clinton has always had an exceptionally bad fashion sense.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad that women are finally realizing that they not only look better, but actually project more authority in skirts, not pants. Lady cops, for example, used to wear skirts as part of their uniform, and they looked great. That's because skirts are simply dressier than pants, which always look informal and not quite businesslike, no matter how well-tailored. Professional women should always wear suits and dresses while practicing their professions-unless, of course, they're site engineers or doing similar "dirty" work. It's a shame that unisex has become the standard in uniforms for both sexes. That always means men's clothing on women. Women look small and pathetic in men's clothes, which are also unflattering to their larger hips and rear ends.

Furthermore, wearing pants these days makes you look like Grandma at the retirement home; younger women now wear dresses. Hillary Clinton got into her pantsuit uniform in the late 1990s when the young and chic were wearing pants exclusively and the dress was dead. She needs to update. Granted she has thick ankles and has put on some weight, but she'd look fine in mid-calf-length skirts in lightweight fabrics and flattering colors plus little pumps. Pantsuits actually exaggerate her weight gain by outlining her body.

Lydia said...

The Angela M. look is gemütlich, and one most women probably identify with. Don't laugh; it could work in a Hillary vs. Carly contest.

buwaya said...

Eventually I decided (engineer here) that suits were for the suits, and I started dressing like a Cuban. Worked for me.

MathMom said...

I expect to see Michelle Obama sporting several of those Prada styles. She is into clown wear, heinous fabric and color combinations, yellow nail polish, and things that just don't fit, like that horror she wore to the Nickelodeon gig.

Unknown said...

"The thoughts provoked would be along the lines of: You can't be serious."

Yes, it would even provoke those thoughts at a Star Trek convention.

The Godfather said...

In Jan. 1993, when Bill Clinton was innaugurated for the first time, a client of mine had an empty suite of offices on the second floor of an office building overlooking Pennsylvania Ave., so they threw an innauguration parade party. We had a good view of the new Pres. and his First Lady as they walked down the avenue. I've seen oak trees that are more shapely than Hillary's legs. To the best of my knowledge, she's never worn a skit since. She made a mistake about the server, but wearing pants has not been a mistake, given the alternative.

Barry Jacobs said...

HRC has gone monochrome. Reduces risk, I suppose.