Fight the Frump!

One of my favorite characters on the BRAVO reality show, Southern Charm is matriarch Patricia Altschul. The caftan-clad, cocktail-loving, southern belle delivers the best one-liners and humorous commentary on the sad state of affairs of the next generation. Last season, she attempted to mentor Landon Clements, a young-ish divorcee on the hunt for husband number #2. Patricia claimed that the reason many young women struggle to find good men is a lack of attention to their appearance. Patricia states, “Women today look like they’ve been shot out of a cannon.”

Designer Tom Ford agrees. In a recent article in, Ford states he is upset that women no longer put effort into daywear. He laments the yoga pant and t-shirt ensemble that many women wear on a regular basis. Sadly, I have to agree. The country as a whole has suffered from fashion malaise for decades now. The advent of athleisure seems to be the final nail in the coffin.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at this ad from the 1940’s and compare it to Millennial fashion. Saying women have taken a more relaxed approach to their appearance is an understatement.

1940's Sears Catalog

1940’s Sears Catalog


Millennial Daywear

Millennial Daywear

So what happened? Why have so many women succumbed to the frump?

In my circle of female friends, the excuse seems to be life. The combination of marriage, work, and children has given rise to a sad, apathetic wardrobe of leggings, amorphous tops, and comfy orthopedic-style shoes. To put it simply, it’s hard to “have it all” and still dress like a lady.

I’d go a step further and blame the pervading sense of entitlement that our current culture shoves down women’s throats. Women are constantly told that they deserve that extra glass of wine, a Mani Pedi, or that Dove chocolate bar. Dressing “comfortably” aka badly just plays into this type of reasoning.

Choice of profession seems to be the next biggest culprit. As someone who formerly worked in education, I can tell you that “teacher fashion” can be unspeakably bad. Again, comfort and that dreaded “I deserve this” mentality, is often used as an excuse. Birkenstocks and ill-fitting twill pants are acceptable because teachers are on their feet all day and don’t even get paid that much for all their hard work.

But it’s not just education. A friend of mine who works IT noted that her fashion mojo dropped exponentially since she entered the field. It seemed pointless for her to dress up when she spent all day trapped in a cubicle farm with a bunch of poorly dressed nerds.

While Tom Ford might bemoan the death of daywear due to his business interests, I worry about the psychological effects. I’m a firm believer in the adage, dress for the job you want, not the job that you have. Let’s face it, dressing up and dressing well puts you in a different mindset. When you feel good about yourself, you try more and therefore achieve more. And at the end of the day, it’s not really that hard to do. There are plenty of budget friendly stores that cater to most body types. But if clothing seems too much at the moment, take my lead and start with something small, like lipstick. Because even a stay at home mom with small children needs a little boost to keep her glam going.

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