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.

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The trouble with gender

GI joe and barbi
Barbie and GI Joe

 

Passing on for your general edification (and hopefully an opinion or two) Mark Manson’s thoughts on feminism brought to you by his website MarkManson.net and entitled What’s the problem with feminism?

And if you want to see the other half of the equation try What’s the problem with men?

I can’t remember a time when gender, transgender, no-gender has  been so debated.  The rights of one compared to the others, the study of gender, the constraints and advantages.  I would like to move beyond gender and do what suits me as a person.  But as these articles point out, we remain largely constrained by ideas of the feminine and masculine, where happiness and success are measured against outdated norms.

I’ve just discovered Mark Manson and hope you enjoy his writing as much as I do.

The question I put to you, are you willing and ready to be truly equal?  Would you miss any of the privileges your gender provides?  Hmmm.

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
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.

JerrieCobb_MercuryCapsule-768x967

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

Enjoy!

Clothes without gender

yohji ss13
Yohji Yamamoto SS13

“When I started designing, I wanted to make men’s clothes for women. But there were no buyers. Now there are. I always wonder who decided that there should be a difference in the clothes of men and women. Perhaps men have decided this.” Yohji Yamamoto professing his preference for gender-neutral dress way back in 1983 to The New York Times.

What strikes me is how long this notion that men and women should dress differently has stuck.  And as constrained as women are by expectations around presentation (makeup, dresses/skirts/heels/purses) so, too, are men. And boys, judging by the recent protest by schoolboys during the UK’s recent heat wave.  Why do girls get to wear skirts and boys not shorts?  Or vice versa for that matter, as witnessed by this photo.

boys in skirts
As witnessed in The Guardian

Now Thom Browne is adding his voice.  Interesting message, execution of long and slim with heels will inevitably lead to the hobbling walk that has plagued many a great woman, but that’s not the point.  Why not genderless dressing?  What has taken so long to come around to this simple yet still radical notion?

Thom Browne Men's Spring 2018
Thom Browne SS18

 

Browne long and grey.jpg
And again, working those arms

As Browne told the New York Times, “It all started with these,” Browne says. They’re his own shoes from childhood; it’s a tradition in his family to dip a pair in gold and have them on display. “I was thinking about how we all start off the same — wearing almost the same clothes,” he says. “And then, it changes.”

While the women’s line has some playful yet traditional womenswear, then there is this example of what is good for the goose is good for the gander:

06-thom-browne-resort-2018 beige grey women

A women’s appearance is no longer an indication of her spouse’s wealth, nor need it be the lure to reel in the fish.  Those notions are no longer relevant.

It might  also be helpful if the prevailing idea wasn’t to radically change one’s wardrobe each year. Even if you can’t do (afford) the absolute classics, anyone can find a wardrobe that makes sense for the cold weather, hot weather, the roads we travel and the work we do.  And if women could take more of the pragmatic from menswear, maybe men might be free to take a fraction of the liberties women take for granted and particularly as it applies for dressing in hot weather – if not a skirt, then at least shorts.

You may not approve of all his clothes but you can’t argue with Yamamoto’s thinking.  Let’s give the last word to Yohji taken from a recent interview in Dazed.

“But, after almost fifty years in the industry, in which fast fashion has replaced craftsmanship, and globalisation has promoted homogenous idea of what’s ‘in’ across the planet, he’s come to have a critical distance from our cycle of trends. ‘Casual fashion became like garbage in the world. There are so many cheap, wasting fashions. Young people look so ugly.’ How can you avoid becoming a fashion victim? ‘It’s quite easy: don’t copy your friend,’ he enunciates. ‘Don’t be one of a group. Be yourself. Stay a little bit monotone – walk on our side of the street, don’t walk the mainstream of fashion. You’ll be polluted by trends.’

yohjiyamamotofall2007pn8
Yamamoto from 2007, the no-pantyhose dress look.

Who am I kidding?  This won’t be the last word from Yohji.

yohji headshot
Yohji Yamamoto

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

 

MM_Shot09_1206-1-1024x968
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