The Challenge of Being A Woman: Smart Women and Fashion

This morning I came across a piquing article in ELLE magazine: “Why Can’t A Smart Woman Love Fashion?” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.  She brings up one of the issues that has always been difficult for me to comprehend, since I also grew up in a foreign environment.  In American society, women are perceived as being less professional, if they are glamorous and pay attention to what they wear.  

I actually perceive this in an opposite way.  I equate good grooming and a sharp sense of style with more than average abilities.  Like the author, I admire women who look pulled together and defined by personality.  Attention to detail will take you that much farther on the quest for excellence.  Not only impeccable outfit makes you look better than everyone else in the bored-room, but it also makes you look like you actually care to be there, because you put some thought into your appearance.

To me having a personal style in anything is a manifest of intelligence – the capacity for deeper comprehension, the power to take something and make it your own.  Of course, I will never deny that there are appropriate and inappropriate manifestations of personal style.  However, that is one of the pillars of fashion intelligence – the ability to dress according to the situation.

On the other hand, if ripped jeans are now considered to be office-appropriate (on managers?), what makes neon orange always inappropriate? Furthermore, what makes you think that I am somehow less capable, if I am wearing pink lace fit-and-flare rather than black pencil skirt? Do fishnets make me less of a hard-worker?  Or is that my red lipstick that makes my opinions matter less?

The way you feel about yourself is what affects the way you work and the quality of your work.  Always.  I definitely feel happier and more enthusiastic about my day when I am wearing an outfit that I love rather than an outfit that fits perfectly into the box of office dress code.  Marilyn Monroe was right – “give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world”.  At least, I am going to look good doing it.

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