Women of action

Amelia like illustration
Not a Laurence Fellows illustration but a rare one of a woman dressed for more than shopping

Nothing says action like sitting down!  That said, at least she is dressed for action.  I have recently found myself scrolling (for hours) through Pinterest captivated by fashion illustrations from the first half of the 20th century, and largely focused on the menswear illustrator Laurence Fellows.  I have @GreyFox to thank for the introduction – as I do for so many insights and explorations into men’s style.

LF shorts
A fine example of a Laurence Fellows illustration – the detail (espadrilles!) and style are glorious


As noted by the Grey Fox, the gentlemen depicted in Fellow’s illustrations are largely, older, incredibly dapper, dressed appropriately for each activity, and I have to say – extremely fit.  In an ideal world for men, they all would be 6’1″, broad shoulders slim hips, and just enough muscle to do a few laps in an Olympic-sized pool before cocktails.  Here are a few fine examples of the man he portrays:


Laurence Fellows swimsuit
Note the grey hair and receding hairline.
LF fit getting dressed
Looking mighty fine in his boxers

And then at work:

man at work
No apologies for age



As with so many things on the internet, one obsession leads to another, and I was determined to find the equivalent for women – to absolutely no avail.  Lovely illustrations of young women in beautiful dresses, lounging, shopping are everywhere,


and then this one of a young lady struggling to get out of a car:


LF woman and car
This skirt is too long and tight

A woman does need a few role models and while these were not found in fashion they were around in real life with women like these:

Ladies in tennis trousers
No, we’re not smiling for the camera
Ladies in 20s suit
I’ll stand on top of this building cause I feel like it
Anne Marie
Annemarie Schwarzenbach, the adventurer, and clearly doing her own thing

If you think about advertising today, not much has changed.  In the real world, women are operating in virtually every field at all levels (not so much at the very top) and yet most depictions are delivered through the male gaze – or at least, what we believe to be the male gaze.  I wonder if men find the images of made-up 15 year olds as attractive and alluring as we believe?  I give them more credit.

We know that all women love to see a grey-haired model wearing beautiful clothes and living an interesting, engaging life, because we’re all going in that direction.  Like I did on my browsing binge, you have to look for the images that inspire you.  Of course, you will always find them here.

Follow the Great Woman on Pinterest.

The Grey Fox is a terrfic blog presenting the stylish older man, suitable for all men.

The Gentlemen’s Gazette, another style blog for men.


The Great Woman weekend

A few things to catch up on this weekend. Some mind-blowing (Cindy Gallop interview), some illuminating (women drinking too much), women have been in STEM for decades (Beatrice Shilling and Mercury 13).

How did I not know about this podcast?

Role Models podcast

The Role Models Podcast: The Role Models Podcast is a series of interviews that captures and shares the stories of inspiring women. These are far-reaching conversations with female leaders we look up to. We discuss how they got to where they are – including the lessons they’ve learned, the decisions they’ve made, and the challenges they’ve tackled.  And start with this one with Cindy Gallop – a dose of straight talking.

Cindy Gallop interview

Thanks to the wonderful blog swissmiss for the introduction.

Why are women drinking so much?

arnold palmer drink
The Arnold Palmer = tea and lemonade

Giving up alcohol opened my eyes to the infuriating truth about why women drink

A role model for all girls and women.

Beatrice Tilly Shilling


Beatrice Shilling – Electrical Engineer who solved WWII airplane troubles.

Pilots and astronauts way back in the ’60s.


Mercury 13, the group of women to whom NASA gave the same training as astronauts.


Shop once,wear forever

Molyneux yello
Margot Molyneux

This is not something that women are familiar with.  Men do this ALL the time.  Well, maybe not forever, but frequently they buy a pair of trousers, jacket, sweater or shirt and wear it for a very long time.  Us, what with the proliferation of fast fashion and the pressure to keep up, we are buying barely for a season.  What a waste of money, time, space, materials, labour, green house gases, just to name a few.  And so it is a challenge to find those lasting clothes that can withstand the skinny/wide leg, low/high waist, cropped/long length seasonal changes that fashion relentlessly dictates.

If we’re talking about style and something approaching modern classics for women of all shapes and ages look no further than South Africa’s Margot Molyneux.  Look at (and admire) the trouser design – who could not and would not wear these?

MM trousers
Really a perfect trouser

A straight line, not too baggy, not tight, waist at just the right spot – it isn’t that difficult to get it right but it is incredibly hard to find.  If the price is not right for you then consider the inspiration.  Hack it with a pair of men’s trousers with a few darts in the back – any alteration shop can manage that.  The beauty in this collection thought is, of course, the colours, the fine matching of the wrap coat and trousers, the sensible lengths that work for women who are out and about and don’t want to flaunt their legs – a tiresome pursuit and do we still need to do that sort of thing?  No.

MM trouser closeup
Perfectly waisted


Clothes for every woman

And how refreshing to not photoshop out all the slight imperfections in these lovely models.  And yet, they are nothing but striking.

Let that be an inspiration to you. And thank you, Miss Moss, for the introduction!

Is tech a great woman’s world?


Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit - Day 1
Kara Swisher in action

Yes.  Look what Sheryl Sandberg has brought to Facebook, the race to bring new women on board at Uber (how about replacing Travis Kalanick with … not Sheryl – she’s staying at Facebook) and the renowned tech journalist Kara Swisher finding the fine line between connecting with Silicon Valley and calling them on their responsibilities to their customers and broader society all the while maintaining journalist integrity.  Read her ethics statement to get a sense of this straight-talking woman.

I’ve been enjoying Kara’s podcast Recode Decode where she interviews the founders, CEOs and innovators in the tech world.  I feel smarter already.

I will commit to tracking the great tech women.  Let’s call it Tech Talks.  Are you a great tech woman? What’s your story?

LeadOn:Watermark's Silicon Valley Conference For Women
Kara interviewing Hilary Clinton



An ageing adjustment

KG 1
Model Karen Graham for Estee Lauder

If you happen to be a woman of my vintage you might remember the last of the pre-internet glory days of the fashion magazine, stalwart among the pages were the Estee Lauder advertisements.  In my view, these were the most sophisticated, promissory ads – a life beyond the commonplace – country houses, elegant and refined clothes and the flawless face of model Karen Graham who appeared in a relentless stream of ads for almost two decades.  She must have sold a lot of make-up and skincare products before she retired at 40 for a life of fly fishing.  Yes, fly fishing.

KG throwing a line
Karen Graham’s 2nd career as a fly fisher – really

Before we get to that, here is a sample of the spectacular ads shot by photographer Victor Skrebneski.

kg 2

kg 4


kg 5

kg 8

The remarkable thing about the campaign, and the time, is that she looks like a woman.  Most of the ads today, unless called-out to women of a certain age, are populated by girlish-looking women. There is also a decidedly cinematic quality to the photographs. It’s not enough that she looks lively, she has a life – an adult life – an interesting life.  It is the woman that is interesting, and she happens to be gorgeous and use Estee Lauder, apparently.

Back to the Karen Graham story, after retiring at the ripe age of 40, Karen  followed her passion which led to a fly fishing company where she taught (and I believe still does) and takes people on fly fishing adventures.  Can you believe it?  How interesting!  The shot in the bottom right below is of Karen as a real fly fisherwoman, and then some from a revived Estee Lauder campaign leveraging her new profession and with Karen then in her ’50s targeted to the likes of me.

Estée Lauder - Angleterre - 1999
Targeting the older woman with authenticity

She’s a great looking woman any which way you look at her.  Most interesting is how she has allowed herself to age with grace and I can only imagine what that adjustment was like for someone so reknowned for being ageless and flawless.

Above left is a photo of her in her makeup selling days, without makeup and looking gorgeous and somewhat normal.  The photo to the right is Karen now in her ’70s.  Grey hair, makeup but not slathered on, obviously an acceptance of ageing has taken place.

The point of all this is that ageing is something we need to allow ourselves to do.  To move towards, to accept changes, gradually, and get used to the changes so we can be happy with them.  Succumbing to pressures to remain perennially 35 is exhausting, expensive and particularly female.  To follow the path of least resistence is to allow yourself to have grey hair (if that’s what you want), to accept changing skin and lines (as men do so easily even in their ’20s), and to refuse to let the ageing process define your opportunities.  Much has been written about accepting age – we can do a better job of making this easier, and the more we accept ourselves the more likely the culture will accept us as ageing, while still being more than capable of contributing to whatever endeavours we choose to pursue.  Even fly fishing.

KG now

Links & resources

Fly Females: Six women who are revolutionizing the world of fly fishing – a bit of fun showing how women the march of progress

Art of Manliness – How to cast a spinning reel – this site is a wealth of tips and knowledge on everything a great man and woman might want to know