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Anne Neely-Beck MAFCA (Model A Ford Club of America) Era Fashion Committee
Business_Women.doc Page 1 Rev. 12/31/06

There were business women in the Model A era, but most women’s magazines did not portray the women outside the house. During the 1920's, one in four women over the age of 16 were part of the work force. They mainly held jobs traditionally thought as female, such as in the fields of nursing and teaching. Thirty percent of women wage workers were involved in clerical and sale work. Clerical work or white collar positions were “respectable” during the era. White women born in the United States largely filled these positions.

During the 1930's, women workers faced heavy discrimination and social criticism. This was the Depression and it was thought that women were taking jobs away from men and that they were also abandoning their families in a time of extreme need. Most of the media railed against working mothers.

I did find some advertising by Pond’s during the late 20's and early 30's that made reference to how a working woman could manage to maintain fresh beautiful skin even while working, if she used Pond’s cold cream. It was “believed” that if women worked outside the home, they would lose their charm and delicate beauty.

The business women of the Model A Era, whether she was an executive or a secretary (clerical worker), could be smartly dressed. “The right clothes and smart clothes are part of the business of work, and in the day of excellent copies of originals, the secretary may be as well dressed as her employer.” This is a quote from a business woman in the April 1930 issue of Delineator Magazine. Articles written in the February and October 1930 issues of McCall’s talk about the importance of dressing correctly for the work place.


Suggestions were given by several business women on how to plan a wardrobe on a budget. One thought was to decide on a color and stick to it; then add one green, red, and black frock. With these three colors, add one good set of black accessories, bag, pumps, and a hat would complete the wardrobe and do the trick. Another suggestion was to add one piece of good jewelry if it fit into your budget.


Also it was suggested to start with a black wool crepe coat with an uneven hem, then add a black skirt and several blouses. The blouses could be white and pastel for variety. If the budget permitted one or two frocks, a black and white print or perhaps a pink or yellow print on black background all with uneven hemlines. Also purchase a plain pair of black suede pumps, black gloves, black hat, and one or two pieces of black and white jewelry.


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- Levo article | June 04, 2013

“I believe in pink.” – Audrey Hepburn

For the past year peplum has been a very hot trend. I personally love the whole peplum movement because it is so unabashedly feminine. It is practically like adding a little lace petticoat to whatever you are wearing. Forbes even wrote a piece recently on how to wear peplum to work because it is so trendy and doesn’t exactly scream corporate. But before we all rush out and buy peplum tops in every color, I have to ask, is it possible to dress too feminine for work?


A recent CareerBuilder survey found that pink and red are the least preferred choice (1% or less) for CEOs. The presumption is that these colors are too girly and are not taken as seriously as the corporate world’s favorite colors, the always exciting navy blue and black (navy blue was the top choice at 36% amongst CEOs, with black falling behind at 26%).


But does that mean that women should dress like men? Haven’t we been trying to move away from that? Women have proved they can be powerful and feminine. And yet, there is still prejudice against pink.

Fashion blogger Marion Green posed the question of “Can You Wear Pink to Work?” last year. She wrote on her blog that a female CFO friend of hers said,

“I had to earn the right to wear red.” Berry said it took this woman, who worked in banking, 25 years of wearing beige, black and grays before she could inject more color. Perhaps you have to earn the right to be feminine?”


What is very interesting though is that a recent Cotton USA study claims to have discovered that men who wear pink shirts earn an extra $1,600 a year and are found to be better qualified, more confident, and get a greater number of compliments from female colleagues than their male colleagues wearing blander clothes. No waiting period there! So why don’t women get this kind of praise when they wear pink?


Pink is the color of power when it comes to fighting a disease that is major killer of women and it is Katy Perry’s go-to hair color, but this color can also make a significant impact on you and your environment. In the late 1970s, researchers discovered that a certain shade of pink could help decrease aggression. Two US Naval officers named Baker and Miller painted an admissions cell at the U.S. Naval Pepto-Bismol pink. After monitoring acts of aggression for those in the pink cell versus other cells, they found that prisoners held in the pink cell calmed down more quickly than their normal cell counterparts. In 1981 this effect was looked at closely by researcher Alexander Schauss. He found that when participants (often obstreporous youth) were exposed to Baker-Miller pink (often in an entire room painted pink) they experienced physiological changes including lower heart rates, breathing rates, and strength.


Hmm, when could having a lower heart and breathing rate be useful? Maybe in super stressful situations? You may want to rethink that LBD for today and go for a LPD (Little Pink Dress).


New research has also revealed that women who wear skirts and jackets are viewed as more confident, higher-earning and more flexible than those opting for a trouser suit.


This is by no means advice to throw out your power suit, but don’t throw away that pretty pink blouse either. Your clothes help convey power and seriousness, but it mainly has to come from the woman behind the clothes.

Photo: Thinkstock

McGill Reporter | Doug Sweet | 

Posted on Tuesday, November 18, 2008

We’re almost out of election season, and for many it can’t come soon enough. An economic meltdown might seem welcome by comparison. Agony aside, a prolonged period of political activity can prove instructive.


One thing the autumn of 08 has revealed is that when it comes to politics and the media, a double standard some would call sexist is alive and kicking.


Whether it is the familiar and faintly paternalistic use of Hillary” in a headline instead of the more formal “Clinton,” or stories that focus on wardrobe choices (this extends to the brutal and detailed criticism of Michelle Obama’s red and black election night dress in the next day’s press) or the gleeful, indeed, savage way the media feasted on Sarah Palin’s shortcomings, one thing has seemed constant: Little or none of this would have been said or done about a man.


I can’t recall lengthy discussions about the cut of John McCain’s suits or the unnatural crispness of Barack Obama’s luminous white shirts. But there has been much written and said about Hillary Clinton’s pantsuits and Sarah Palin’s eyeglasses, hair, wardrobe and, according to one CBC blogger, “porn-star looks,” whatever those are.

(One exception to this rule comes from the 2006 Quebec provincial election when Jean Charest’s rumpled frumpiness was observed. It doesn’t seem to be an issue this time.)


While the media certainly had a field day with former U.S. vice-presidential candidate Dan Quayle, who, in retrospect, seems to have been head and shoulders above Palin in terms of qualification for higher office, I don’t think anyone cared where he shopped.


In a way, it’s not necessarily the media’s fault.


The focus on style over (or sometimes alongside) substance springs from a crucial difference between male and female politicians: the men essentially don a uniform; the women must exercise far, far greater choice in what they wear, how they present themselves. And women pay a heavy price if their choices are deemed improper. When it comes to women in political life, and that includes the wives, every reporter is reborn a fashion critic.


The male uniform means you’ll never get stories about the shape of Obama’s ankles the way snipers targeted Clinton’s “cankles,” and, unless he takes to wearing Hawaiian shirts in the National Assembly, Charest’s daily dressing decisions will never be as important as whether Pauline Marois has a big (and expensive, meaning extravagant, meaning out-of-touch-with-the-little-people) gold pin holding her pashmina in place.


(Oh, and would a male political leader be described as “un snob,” the way Marois’s own party apparatus has branded her? Arrogant, perhaps, as in the case of Michael Ignatieff or Pierre Trudeau, but probably not a snob, and never that kind of criticism from within.)


How much a public person spends on clothes is easily more evident for women than men; I know Brooks Brothers suits look good and that they’re expensive. But I defy most casual observers, and that would include the vast majority of voters, to, at a glance, distinguish between a $5,000 suit and a well-fitted $500 model. Don’t know, don’t care. A Louis Vuitton handbag, however, is a dead giveaway.


But what about Stephen Harper’s sweaters? The Canadian media wrote at length about the way the prime minister’s stylists tried to portray him as so much more warm and fuzzy than his public persona had heretofore suggested. It can be argued that here the story was more about campaign calculation and strategy than fashion; how the Tories were trying to trick us into believing the prime minister is actually a living, breathing human being who likes dogs and little kids. Until the sweater ads, we hadn’t really seen him that way.


And that means it was the party and not the prime minister who was making the wardrobe choices. Have you seen him in a sweater since Oct. 14?


It is not that media are dominated by men who have developed a sexist prism through which female candidates are viewed and presented. Some of the more devastating commentary on Palin, Clinton and Marois has come from females. It would seem more that the media’s view of women is a reflection of a broader, deeply imbedded and socialized double standard that evaluates men and women according to different criteria.


Male politicians, by donning the uniform and largely taking away the issue of fashion judgments, can then be evaluated more according to their performance and positions. Women, who have yet to escape the fashion-judgment issue, continue to be evaluated on those choices as well as on their platforms (not the shoes) and comportment.


It’s the old comparison between Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. She did everything he did, only backwards and in high heels.


Doug Sweet is Director of Media Relations for McGill.

by  Suyin Haynes  |  Motto | This article originally appeared on Motto.

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has faced backlash over a pair of pricey pants from some critics, whilst others have been left wondering what all the fuss is about.

May was criticized by members of her own Conservative Party and the media after it was revealed last week that a pair of brown leather trousers she wore in a photoshoot for the British newspaper The Sunday Times cost over $1,250.

In an interview with The Times, May’s colleague Nicky Morgan said that the expensive garments featured in the photoshoot had been “noticed and discussed” in local Conservative Party circles. “I don’t have leather trousers. I don’t think I’ve ever spent that much on anything apart from my wedding dress,” Morgan commented. 


May was also accused of being “out of touch” and faced criticism on social media for the clothing choice.

Other commentators have responded to the backlash by noting that while the Prime Minister has been criticized for her clothing many times before, her male colleagues have not been subject to the same level of scrutiny. Last year, a tailor whose bespoke suits cost around $2,500 was photographed entering 10 Downing Street, reportedly for an appointment with then-Prime Minister David Cameron. When Hillary Clinton came under fire for a $12,000 Armani jacket earlier this year, commentators pointed out that criticizing female politicians’ clothes is sexist, regardless of which party they belong to.
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Image Source:  Carl Court—Getty Images