You’ve seen the Facebook ad: “Your clothes should be the least interesting thing about you.” Clicking the link takes you to MM.LaFleur an online store for women’s career wear. I have no objection to the company and its goods, just this advertising phrase. It’s misogynistic, homogenizing, and outdated.
We’ve finally entered an era when women can dress as women as work. We aren’t forced to wear ill-fitting copies of men’s business attire. We aren’t faking a male build with enormous shoulder pads. If we like, we can wear bright colors, floral prints, and ruffles. Unlike most of the animal kingdom, female humans are the flashy sex. Looking interesting, whether that’s our cosmetics, our movements or our clothing is a gender norm. Taking an attitude of our “clothes should be the least interesting thing” about us is a step backwards. It means denying our femininity and pretending we are small, ill-proportioned men.
This is the age of self-expression. We express ourselves on line. We express ourselves with the choices we make from the global marketplace. We express ourselves with our clothing. We have left homogeneity behind and embraced differences and diversity. A female workforce clad only identical ivory blouses and black pants brings to mind a workforce of drones in some dystopian film. We are not a homogenous people. Why would we dress like it?
Finally, our appearance is our brand. To market ourselves to employers, to customers or to management, we must stand out from the crowd. Our appearance is an opportunity to advertise our inner selves. I’m creative. I’m analytical. I’m a team-player. I’m a leader. This is the visual era. Our image is on Linked-In, Facebook, and Instagram. That image must reflect who we are if we wish to be considered for opportunities. I’m interesting and so are my outfits.
My dress is my choice, whether I choose to exercise it or not. I object to being told it should be the least interesting thing about me. It is an expression of my femininity, my uniqueness, and my brand.