Archive for April, 2013

April 26, 2013

Dress for the part. But what’s the part anyway?

Miu Miu ciré pencil skirt — can it be worn at work?

My favorite fashion shopping website is Net-a-Porter — I think by miles it’s the most functional, appealing and the one with the finest curatorship of clothing among all.

Net-a-Porter used to have a workwear section, dedicated to clothes and looks fit for the office, but that should do no wrong in a fashionista’s eyes. Plenty of Roland Mouret and Victoria Beckham there, a bit of McQueen and Stella — tailored stuff mostly, structured totes and pumps. I looked for the section now, and it’s gone, they only have now vacation and wedding “shop by occasion” sections. But the existence of the section is unimportant; what matters is… what is adequate workwear after all?

Can those McQueen cropped metallic honeycomb-lace pants be taken to the office?

Here’s why I’m saying this: where I work, people dress very badly. If they wear suits — men or women alike — those suits are usually very plain and sometimes, straightforward cheap. Cufflinks for guys are unthinkable — we have meetings with customers or suppliers from different companies and they always come to those wearing what seems to be their finest, while our representatives have the practical simple plastic buttons doing the job of keeping their pulses covered. Should I come to work decked out in VB in such a scenario?

I don’t posess anything designed by Posh Spice, but I do own a burgundy silk pencil skirt by Lanvin that is perfectly office-friendly according to Net-a-Porter’s workwear rules and cost me only a 100 USD (thank you Century 21! I love you!), and I wear it to work like nothing else mattered. And it doesn’t to me, but to my colleagues, it’s like I’m the idiot who really dresses up for work, or at least that’s how I feel. Maybe they’re thinking “oh my good, she looks so chic” as they stare at me. I don’t know.

What is it to look professional, and more: how much of yourself should you compromise in that task? Because it’s not just about the type of fabrics and cuts and shapes that are allowed, there’s a quality issue there and a taste factor that are both very subtle, counterintuitive even — you can’t be really too tasteful at work, you can’t colorblock even if it’s Roksanda Ilincic who’s doing it for you, and God forbid you’ll wear tailored beehive McQueen pants, even though they’re basically black with a dash of gold.  Is it even good to be noticed at work by your impeccable, somewhat sartorial tastes in fashion, and anyway — should you care?

April 8, 2013

A woman’s farewell to the Iron Lady

Margaret Thatcher, the most important woman of the 1980’s — I dare say, at least in politics, the most important woman there ever was in the XXth century — has left the building.

Do you have mixed feelings about her (do you even know who she is? I mean, I am young, or at least I think the status should apply to anyone under 30, but apparently people are even younger nowadays)? I do.

On one hand, a woman who knew how to be authoritative without emulating a man; she would often wear a double string of pearls as homage to her twins (a girl and a boy) and work a very nicely done hair and make-up, at least after she became Prime Minister. With a Queen and an Iron Lady, a leading woman by birthright and another by the will of the people, the UK in the 80’s was pure girl power. Right?

The politics of Thatcher was pretty much the politics of the conservative men of her time. Sometimes, it felt like she wanted to be the toughest one in the room — except the room was full of gentlemen and that was still a time in which an analogy between the nuclear arms race and boys measuring up their genitals against each other in the boy’s room felt particularly convincing. As a woman who perhaps had done too much to fight for her place and as far I know, never raised any feminist flags — I believe that actually makes sense if her obsession with liberalism is considered, and that she probably felt that anyone, men or women, should make do with the opportunities presented to them instead of whine about the status quo (not that I agree with that) — Thatcher just played the same game that was being played by everyone else, and everyone else meant the fellas.

A grocer’s daughter who fought for her place in the sun, she felt everyone should fight for their goals instead of having them handed to them by the government. War against Argentina, privatizations, and a fierce defense of capitalism, in its neoliberal form to be more precise, have made Thatcher quite the dubious political figure — if not one of the most important in the XXth century, coming right after some important dudes like her colleague Prime Minister Churchill, FDR and Charles de Gaulle, and also some more well liked and equally relevant guys such as Nelson Mandela and Gandhi. I’m not sure Ronald Reagan was more important than her (although he did engage into some wicked economics who pretty much ruined everyone else’s during that decade, while her thing had a more restrictive damage. Tough medicine, they say). Their symbiotic behavior was, however, quite emblematic of a time to establish Capitalism’s hegemony or kill us all trying.

Can we separate the Iron Lady from the woman who almost as if unaware of her gender disadvantage in her battlefield of choice has come to be a legend of willpower in politics? Can the deeds be admired without agreement with the ideology behind them? Should gender issues be altogether forgotten as women, homosexuals and every cross or multi-gendered individual (and to be quite precise — is it even possible that anyone isn’t in some degree with a foot in each gender anyway) go about their struggles, as apparently they were for  Mrs. Thatcher at each time she passionately fought for every of her beliefs? Is it time for difference to be forgotten, because it is so obvious and at the same time, so repeatedly proven meaningless, or is it still not, and fight still must be fought for us women to gain our places in the sun without having to play the games of the men who are in power?

April 5, 2013

Thoughts about femininity inspired by the Mrs. Carter Tour

I guess the drone has become more important than the Queen B

What Beyoncé is trying to do with her Mrs. Carter Tour is a tricky and noteworthy move: she’s affirming her freedom to place her marriage and her experience of raising and having a family, a child — her man’s name the symbol of such — above her own professional persona. What started with her affirming that if a man liked it, then he should put a ring on it, very cohesively led to this point in which the sexy lady decided to shout to the world, rather loudly, that married life is delightful, delicious, de-lovely.

Generous displays of legs and cleavage aside, Beyoncé demonstrates to have a very, very conservative personality — at least when we’re talking about love. She does it without denying female power, saying that it is us, girls, who run the world; however, that doesn´t stop her from telling men they’ll only have her through marriage. Now, she’s not only married, but making a point out of being known as a particular man’s wife.

I guess I don’t have a problem with a woman who says she wants to get married. Honestly, I do to. It’s fine that this is important to people. I think the not-so-early feminist approach to sexuality as a right to, say, promiscuity, somehow became a bit of a dictatorship — as if wanting to only have sex with a person you truly love was a dishonor to the feminist cause, as if sexual freedom had to mean having a generous amount of partners to account for. I guess the whole point is to be able to choose freely and not be judged for your personal beliefs and interests concerning self-presentation, love and sex, right?

In this sense, I enjoy Beyoncé’s message: to be free means to be free, including the freedom of publicly loving to be in a family and to have your husband and your children. It’s like saying, hey, I’m not eating frozen food for the rest of my life just because cooking was imposed to women before me and now women should prove to men they are not here to cook for them (nor themselves, nor anyone. ANYONE!). I like cooking, I like sewing, I’d love to be able to spend a lot of time raising my kids, which are non-existent at this point but shall be made in a reasonably near future, and I don´t think I´d ever be able to hire a maid to clean my house because I feel like a house is too personal a thing to be cleaned by someone else (would you hire someone to wipe your ass if you had money to do so? that’s how I feel about someone being paid to do my dishes). I also share most housekeeping activities with my roommate-partner who happens to be a man and who happens to be a person I really enjoy pampering when I’m not tired from work or anything else that might tire me, and that goes both ways too. To take that message about yourself to the general public is fine and I think is a valid message about femininity.

However, however, Mrs. Carter, that’s not quite the right message. I think with this move Beyoncé takes a strange step towards confusing family with the male authority over the family. And that move takes the flavor of all other interesting ones for me. No, no, Beyoncé, you’re not Mrs. Carter; you’re Beyoncé, not just a man’s woman, and you love your family and you love motherhood and you love your man.

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