Recently I gave a talk for an American Association of University Women (AAUW) group consisting mostly of retired teachers. I was telling the tale about how Hillary Clinton’s cleavage became the subject of way too much media attention in 2008. The subject of Hillary Clinton’s campaign clothing style came up and a few of the women commented on how they conspired to wear pantsuits to work. It was the early 1970s and there was a staunch “no pants” rule for women teachers. So one day, all the women met in the teacher’s lunch room and they decided that all of them would wear their pantsuits the next day. They did and the rule was overturned. It reminded me of the similar stories in Gail Collins’s excellent book When Everything Changed. I reviewed it for Senior Women Web. We’ve come some of the way, for sure. Clothing is often an indication of an individual’s status and gender. Men’s business clothing has evolved to a standard look for success while women in power still struggle to achieve the correct look. This struggle to gain ethos is evident in other areas, including social, cultural, and religions, too. I learned something from those teachers that night. Those trailblazers who met and agreed to all wear the verboten pants helped inch all of us along. Women wear pants, of course and even ‘the’ pants in many cases in organizations all over the world. Thanks, AAUW Allentown!
Nichola D. Gutgold is an author, speaker and professor. Her latest book is Almost Madam President: Why Hillary Clinton ‘won’ in 2008 (Lexington Books, 2009). www.nicholagutgold.com