Professional Clothes: Only for Men?

Joan Jacobs Brumberg, an American Social Historian, has written pieces and taught lectures regarding women’s history. In 1997, Brumberg authored The Body Project, a piece intended to highlight the differing trends of women’s culture and standards throughout history. Within The Body Project, there is a photographical timeline depicting women’s fashion trends throughout history. Looking through the timeline (examples of pictures below) it is blatantly apparent there is a clear absence of women’s fashion pertaining to the professional world. There are no photographs of women in clothing they would wear to work, leading the viewer to conclude the thread of photographs intentionally left out this aspect of women’s lives to prove a point.

Throughout history, women have been consistently seen as “inferior” to that of their male counterparts, most specifically in the professional sector of society. From the beginning of history until around the 1970s, it was deemed “socially unacceptable” for women to work anywhere but within their homes, “secretarial” positions, or “soft” labor. Doctors, lawyers, and businesspeople consisted solely of men. As a result, the fashion industry felt no need to advertise professional clothing for women. However, beginning around the 1970s, through advocacy and subsequent legislation, women began taking on “higher-up” positions that were previously reserved for men. By the 21st century, women were found in nearly every area of society that men were. Yet, the thread of photographs of women throughout history show nothing of this transition. In fact, the last photograph of the thread, showing the most recent female fashion trends, displays a woman with a sultry look on her face, posing completely nude for an advertisement. There is a clear implication within the entirety of the thread that women have yet to be seen as truly equal to men. Although society has come a long way in terms of gender equality, it appears there is still room for improvement. Legislation alone is simply enough.

“The Body Project”
“The Body Project”
“The Body Project”

2 thoughts on “Professional Clothes: Only for Men?

  1. Ulya Young says:

    Hello. Really impressive work. Looking forward to following your work.

    Reply

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