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Current Events & Hot Topics Current Events & Hot Topics

Since when can a feminist no longer be feminine?

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Poll

Question: Do you consider yourself a feminist and if so, would you want to wear some of the fasions discussed here?

Options:

Yes, I consider myself a feminist but I wouldn't wear these clothes. The woman from Ms. Magazine is right.

Yes, I consider myself a feminist but I also like to dress in a more "ladylike" manner.

No, I'm not a feminist, but I agree with the lady from Ms. Magazine

No I'm not a feminist and I love the fashion described here

Other (of course.)


Only group members can vote in this poll.

Total Votes: 114

View Results

Why you're still wearing those ladylike fashions

By Ann Hoevel, CNN

updated 9:40 AM EST, Tue February 11, 2014

(CNN) -- For the last 12 months, runway shows have been inundated with ladylike ensembles.

Last February, the Fall 2013 collections at New York Fashion Week drew from romantic plaids from the 1940s. The resort 2014 collections made ample use of midi pencil skirts and figure-conscious cigarette pants. Spring/Summer 2014 ensembles embraced full-skirted day dresses, pleated skirts and lower heels, all throwbacks to the 1950s. This year, the look lives on at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in the collections of Carolina Herrera, Monique Lhuillier, Lela Rose and Kate Spade.

Decades since its cinched waists, full skirts and fine fabrics emerged -- 40 years, even, since Diane Von Furstenberg debuted the feminine-professional wrap dress -- what's sustaining this style?

After all, it's fallen out of fashion at times. It's not always practical, comfortable or affordable. These days, it's not the only option, and social norms don't demand women wear it.

But long after it was the prescription, many designers and retailers love it and many women love to wear it, calling it the very model of female empowerment and class.

"Certain designers often have a more ladylike sensibility," said Cindy Weber Cleary, the editor of InStyle magazine, "but that's not to say that there aren't seasons or years when ladylike just feels right."

Even if a feminine style surges or recedes in the fast-paced tempo of high fashion, it's a look that's firmly entrenched in American women's mindset, said fashion historian Rebecca Tuite, author of the forthcoming book, "Seven Sisters Style: The All-American Preppy Look."

Certain silhouettes will forever speak to being a lady, Tuite said: A full skirt, a cashmere cardigan, fluffy ballgowns. Relatively tailored button-down shirts, cropped pants and shift dresses of the same era have gained if the same reputation, even if they're less haute couture.

Consider this outfit: A soft, short sleeve sweater paired with a voluminous, long silk skirt, fitted at the waist.

It's a look that was every bit as ladylike -- and wearable -- when Carolina Herrera designed it for her 2013 spring collection as when Christian Dior produced the essential version in 1955.

Dior's work was part of a revolutionary turn in fashion associated with his "New Look" of 1947. The French designer popularized hourglass figures and full, A-line skirts, along with contemporaries Cristobal Ballenciaga and Hubert de Givenchy. The looks were a dramatic reaction to the meager, economic fashions of wartime Europe and America. American designers of the 1950s and '60s had a way of making the extreme silhouettes of French fashion fit an American audience, Tuite said.

More than 50 years later, Herrera's take isn't quite so dramatic, but rather, timeless and elegant, a nod to her own signature look, a crisp shirt and full skirt. She's one of a few American designers known for their ladylike fashions, such as Ralph Lauren and Oscar de la Renta, Cleary said.

"Carolina herself," Cleary said, "is like, the most elegant, ladylike person on the planet."

And those elegant, timeless looks weave their way from the runway to store racks.

"We look for clothes that are timeless because they are ladylike, simple but not contrived, gimmicky or extreme, smart but not faddy, fashionable but not funky -- chic and understated, the hallmarks of good taste," said Nancy Talbot, who founded the venerable women's clothing store Talbots with her husband in 1947.

The quote is now painted on the walls at the chain's headquarters, as requested by Talbots President Lizanne Kindler.

"For American women, (ladylike) never goes away," Kindler said. "They want to be feminine, and thankfully, American women can do whatever they want."

Indeed, designers like Miuccia Prada, Marc Jacobs and Bottega Veneta regularly push boundaries of what's ladylike, InStyle's Cleary said -- and so do the people that wear them.

"Clothes are (no longer) a reflection of who you are as a person," Cleary said. "One of the most ladylike dressers I can think of is Dita von Teese, and she's a burlesque dancer."

Social norms haven't always allowed women that kind of freedom. Tuite, the historian, said modern women are lucky that dress codes such as Anne Fogarty's rules about what a wife should wear are no longer socially enforced.

"Like anything these days, it's entirely your own rules," Tuite said. When a woman chooses to wear ladylike clothing, either because they enjoy the classic style or because they enjoy pairing ladylike items with unexpected, fashion-forward looks, "you're making your own decisions," she said. "It can be just as empowering as a suit."

Not everybody feels like women's choices have expanded -- or that ladylike styles deserve their place on runways and store racks year after year.

"For the vast majority of women, the so-called ladylike fashion is inappropriate and not even relevant to their lives," said Ms. magazine editor Kathy Spillar.

In the professional world, where women are lawyers, engineers and executives, the silhouettes of feminine fashion diminish their presence and power, she said. Clothing, even suits, that emphasizes the female form are another demonstration of inequality.

"Women do have breasts, they have hips, that is reality. But clothing that is meant to over emphasize that, to make that the identity, there's just no equivalent on the man's side," she said.

As the executive vice president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, Spillar often works with executives and elected officials who lament the lack of clothing available for their professions. She'd like to see other, less ladylike alternatives become more widely available.

"I don't think we have an idea of clothing that would be powerful for women," she said. "I'm hoping that there's more and more pushback on all this stuff."

As I was reading through this article, I was half-interested but it caught my attention because I will be wearing a 1950's style dress for my wedding in about a month.  While I was looking for the dress, I really started liking the clothing style of the 1950's and the 'ladylike' and 'feminine' feel of the era.  I don't think this makes me any weaker or less of a feminist.  So when I got to the end of the article I had to fight the urge not to laugh out loud.  In my opinion, she gives all women a bad name, whether they consider themselves feminist or not.  Why should I hide my curves just so men will take me seriously?  I've been taken seriously my entire career despite being curvy and cute and not dressing in a shapeless shift.


by on Feb. 12, 2014 at 8:35 AM
Replies (31-40):
ashellbell
by shellbark on Feb. 12, 2014 at 2:26 PM
1 mom liked this
Bwahahahaha! Funny story, I looooooove Russell Westbrook. Like love him. Scott is in business with some pretty cool investors and he ended up getting season tickets to the Thunder this season. I, of course, was super excited. Anyway, we went to a game a few weeks ago and he told me to be ready 2 hours before the game started so we could go eat. We ended up eating at the arena. Our food comes, all that jazz, then we had to sign the ticket to charge it to the company. Our waiter brought it over and set it down and he said "thanks guys, enjoy the game." His voice sounded different so I looked up and it was fucking Russell Westbrook! What do I do? I say, "holy shit! You're Russell Westbrook!" He laughed and said, "that's me" I kept trying to find something cool to say and I said, in a whisper, "but you're Russell Westbrook". I couldn't find any other words that weren't Russell or Westbrook. He ended up signing our tickets and gave me an autographed jersey for my daughter. I felt like such a tool.

<------- is a lame feminist

Quoting SlightlyPerfect:

I love reading this text when it's next to your avatar!!!!!

Quoting ashellbell: I'm a feminist and I loooooove my dresses and looking as feminine as I possibly can


ashellbell
by shellbark on Feb. 12, 2014 at 2:27 PM
Damn straight you do you sexy thang!

Quoting krysstizzle:

Screw that noise. Are people really STILL trying to define feminism and what it means by a woman's personal clothing choices? What a bunch of grade A assholes. 

I love high hells. I love dresses and I LOVE pencil skirts. Red lipstick is my new favorite thing. 

Karen_S
by on Feb. 12, 2014 at 2:28 PM
1 mom liked this

Being a feminist means you believe in equal right for women.  That people should be judged based on their actions and abilities, not their gender. That two people doing the same job at the same level of quality should get the same pay.

it has nothing to do with wanting to dress like a man. FFS, the whole article is moronic.

imandia4
by Member on Feb. 12, 2014 at 2:32 PM

Feminism is about choice. 

Looneyfarmmom
by on Feb. 12, 2014 at 2:33 PM

If we all listened to everyone then they would all tell us what makes us a feminist and what a feminist wouldn't be caught dead in. Then when you add it up we would all be naked. I have my own personal style and I love being a feminist. All I want is equal rights NOT to tell other women how to live or what to wear.

Don't get me wrong I don't believe women living in abusive relationships are right because they stay. But if a woman chooses to live a life of a subservant and her husband or "master" is not abusive in any way (there are a lot of strong women I know that like that stuff but I wouldn't take them on in the court room) then I say do what you want. If you like being frilly and heels or wearing makeup then get down with your bad self. Like being natural... you rock it girl! Do what ever you want.

stringtheory
by Gold Member on Feb. 12, 2014 at 2:34 PM
I'm the voice of dissent here and will point out that the article emphasized the lack of less feminine high fashion options - not that feminine options should be avoided. I agree that as someone who doesn't care to wear feminine style regardless of it's effect of the men around me, I don't have as many masculine options that are fashionable (does that make sense? There should be more choices that aren't actually men's clothes?). I don't like the feminine look mostly because it is high maintenance, though, so start getting into crazy fashion week talk and it doesn't matter what, I am not interested, lol. As a note, high maintenance looks DO detract from certain areas, so saying that fashion doesn't affect feminism is disingenuous. That is a little bit off topic, though, my thoughts on that...maybe I will make a separate post sometime. And feminine does not necessarily mean high maintenance, I know, but in a professional setting as described in the red of the OP, it usually is.
la_bella_vita
by Bella on Feb. 12, 2014 at 2:36 PM

 I dress in a very feminine matter.

TheQueenOfChaos
by Member on Feb. 12, 2014 at 2:46 PM

Being a feminist is not about being a man. If your goal in life is to be a man, that's not feminism, that being transgendered (and there's nothing wrong with that either!).

People seem to forget what REAL feminism is about, and like nearly everything else these days, instead choose to guess it was all about extremism.

Feminism was about being RESPECTED for your choices. It was about being able to be a CEO or engineer or doctor or whatever the hell you wanted to be without being looked down on simply because you're a woman. It was about not being expected to stay at home with the kids and be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.

It was NOT about looking down on a woman for CHOOSING to live that kind of life (a working life or a stay at home life). It was not about telling a woman she's less of a woman for choosing that kind of life.

This is in bold because it needs emphasis HIDING YOUR BODY IS NOT FEMINISM. If you have to hide your body to gain respect from a man, you're simply pretending NOT to be a woman. You're not demanding equal respect as a woman, you're trying to be a man to gain respect, which was the opposite of what feminism was about.

These so called "feminists" are not feminists. They're destroying the real feminist movement with their extremism. They're like the Republican's Tea Party. The extreme behavior of one small group tarnishes the true meaning of the entire group.


I'm a feminist.

I'm a stay-at-home mom BY CHOICE

I wear make-up and feminine clothes BY CHOICE

I have equal say in my relationship and my husband and I are equal participants in our marriage. I do not allow men to disrespect me because I'm a woman, and I'm not the little lady that needs protected by a man. I am an independent individual who makes her own decisions, or makes decisions with an EQUAL input from my husband when a decision affects both of us. I respect working women and when my kids are school age I will happily join the working world and work my way up in my position just as equally as any man in my position would.

I'm not going to pretend to be a man to gain respect, I'm going to be a woman and I will be respected for my intelligence, hard work, and confidence. Not because I have "man like" features or because I dress and act like a man.

krysstizzle
by on Feb. 12, 2014 at 2:52 PM

Red lipstick kiss for you!

Quoting ashellbell: Damn straight you do you sexy thang!

Quoting krysstizzle:

Screw that noise. Are people really STILL trying to define feminism and what it means by a woman's personal clothing choices? What a bunch of grade A assholes. 

I love high hells. I love dresses and I LOVE pencil skirts. Red lipstick is my new favorite thing. 


OHgirlinCA
by Platinum Member on Feb. 12, 2014 at 2:52 PM

 Yes, I consider myself a feminist.   Wearing feminine clothing (or not) does not deter one from being a feminist. 

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