Whereas men in business think nothing of discussion the football/rugby/cricket results, it would be a brave woman who started a discussion on Milan Fashion week, Sarah Burton’s design aesthetic or the Orla Kiely for Clarks collection.
The topic of fashion is often seen as lightweight, vain, affected or dull. And yet, like most things, fashion – specifically the clothes that we wear – is full of meaning, relevance and political significance.
Don’t you think that what these people are wearing is important?
Many of the more thoughtful fashion blogs and women’s magazines will rail against
- the cheap labour regimes that mass produce clothes
- the disposable clothes culture (“Fashion!”) and rampant consumerism
- size zero and “body fascism”
- animal cruelty allegedly associated with fur, (but generally not worrying about leather)
For me the politics of fashion is much more subtle and affects all aspects of life. So far I have written about the following political subjects.
- women in politics and the way they are required to dress
- male politicians and what their clothes mean
- politicians from ethnic minority or nationalist backgrounds and how they could dress better
- the “appropriation” of ethnic dress
- diversity of appearance
- sexuality and cross dressing
- children’s clothes
- why this is an equal opportunities blog
- natural hair for older women and black women
I am to some extent affected by being a senior woman in a male dominated field. There is an old adage; “if you can’t beat them, join them”. This means studying the sports pages before meetings, so you can intelligently discuss Mourinho’s options.
But there is also another way. One or two female chief executives and I have a little game. In meetings where the men start with football chit-chat, and pepper their contributions with sporting analogies , she and I work hard to “weave in” phrases of a feminine nature, such as knitting, stitching, ironed, polished, patchwork/tapestry (but never rich, please), tidied, crocheted, woven, gathered and swept up. It even gets a bit silly, and it is hard to say this stuff with a straight face, it does lighten a dull meeting. I have always felt that humour is more powerful than self-righteousness.
Oh gosh, Stephen really dropped a stitch, didn’t he?
It’s just like making an omelette – a nice snack then half an hour of cleaning the kitchen!
Shall we just baste the pocket on, and then see how it looks, Keith?
Susie, have you ever found, when you are dusting, that you have a great idea for creating a Garden City in Essex?