On Saturday I was flicking through The Weekend Australian, and fell headfirst into a baffling article entitled, ‘Armed & Dangerous‘.
It was a two page spread that explored the ‘top choice for alpha females’ to wear in the office: the TSD, or Tight Sleeveless Dress.
Two full pages of sexy professional women (two of whom were fictional television characters, may I note) donning figure-hugging, high-necked, pencil-line dresses with soaring stilettos and flawless make-up.
This, apparently, is what the modern ‘professional woman’ looks like.
Many years ago, before I actually entered the workforce, I might have agreed. If asked what I thought a boss lady would wear to work, I would have elected the stereotype: high heels, collared shirt, sensible haircut. Maybe an expensive handbag and a pair of glasses just to be sure.
But, after ducking and diving in and out of various industries and encountering dozens of professional female ‘types’, I can conclusively say that there is no universal uniform for the working woman.
Never was, never will be.
With that in mind, the 'Armed & Dangerous' article was like falling down a rabbit hole back to the 1960s.
"Power dressers are dressing to make men look, as women have always done," says author Anna Murphy, "but they also hope - and this is their 'big bet' - to make men listen." - The Weekend Australian.
The article, whilst attempting to tread a fair line of gender equality, instead wanders blankly into dangerous territory of taking pride in looking 'sexy' in the workplace.
The author compares the 'sartorial gamesmanship' of male-silhouetted suiting to the challenge of figure-hugging female dresses. She writes off baggy or androgynous clothing. She even suggests the muscular, toned arms of the women who dominate the city or Silicon Valley (her choice of locations, not mine) are carefully curated as a part of the 'heady mashup' the tight sleeveless powerdress offers: "womanly curves, plus manly muscles."