Debunking ‘Appropriate Attire’: Women Should Have The Right To Bare Arms (And Shoulders, Necks, etc.)

By Sara Bauknecht
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) As columnist Sara Bauknecht so aptly points out, “Just as fashion can be a medium for liberation and personal expression, it can be used to control and divide, too.”

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Fashion is infamous for buzz words, think “upscale casual,” “seasonless clothing,” “windowpane prints” and a slew of others that leave most folks scratching their heads.

These days, though, there’s another phrase that’s stirring a lot of sartorial debate. (No, it’s not that awful man romper!) It’s how do we define “appropriate attire”, and, perhaps more important, who gets to decide what’s appropriate and for whom?

Within the past month, lots of people have been up in arms about women baring their arms, and shoulders and decolletage and the like.

The U.S. Congress is cracking down on its “members-should-wear-appropriate-business-attire” policy, which apparently means no sleeveless dresses or tops for women and requires neckties for men. (And if you’re caught without a jacket to cover up, don’t think you can merely fashion some sleeves out of paper, like some female reporters did, it won’t work.)

At the congressional picnic on the White House lawn in June, first daughter Ivanka Trump was scolded for wearing a cold-shoulder floral frock.

Not long before that, former Fox News anchor-turned-NBC News journalist Megyn Kelly was called out for an off-the-shoulder cocktail dress she was photographed wearing at an event with Russian president Vladimir Putin and other global dignitaries.

Even a high school senior in West Milford, N.J., poked fun at the hypocrisy in her yearbook quote: “I’m sorry, did my shoulders distract you from reading this quote?” (Like generations of young women before her, she’s pictured wearing the classic black V-neck drape or robe, which skims her shoulders, and, technically, violates the school’s own dress code.)

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