Next Thursday is International Women’s Day.
To get into the spirit of things, and to show my solidarity, I have bought tickets for a couple of events that day as part of the Bath Literature Festival. One of them is titled ‘Does it matter what a woman wears?’
Other, less feminist minded family members rolled their eyes and smiled indulgently when I announced my plans for the day. I want to use the word ‘scoffed’, but perhaps that’s a little harsh. I’m sure I heard stifled laughter from Bee though, as she looked up at my outfit for the day, which involved various clashing shades of pink and purple.
It’s an important questions though.
Does it matter what a woman wears?
I want to say ‘No! Of course not! It’s what’s on the inside that counts!’ and other such clichéd exclamations, but unfortunately I’m not so sure.
The fact is that regardless of gender, we make snap judgments about people based on how they look, how tall or fat or short or thin they are, the colour of their hair… so of course how they are dressed is going to play a part of this first impression. I’m interested though as to whether dress is more important for women than for men, and how people judge women differently according to what they wear, particularly in the workplace.
Does the fact that I happen to be wearing flats rather than heels when I first meet someone dictate the course of my future relationship with them? If I reveal a bit of cleavage, does that change the way a stranger thinks about me? Or perhaps you think the question is nonsense, and that first impressions are an inevitable and useful way to filter our interactions?
I shall report back on my findings after International Women’s Day, but in the meantime, what do you think? Does it really matter what a woman wears?