Intentional or not, Melania Trump's 'pussy-bow' blouse made a statement

Coincidence or ultimate feminist statement?

Rarely if ever have vulgar terms for women's anatomy been addressed so many times in a presidential debate. But Sunday night's forum was abnormal for several reasons, including the frank questions around a shocking video of Republican nominee Donald Trump saying he could "grab (women) by the p----."

The word came up again, though in completely different context, as fashion bloggers began to trace his wife's sartorial choice for the evening. Melania's bright fuchsia long-sleeve top from Gucci — which you can nab for $1,100 — seemed like just another high-fashion home run for the woman who may succeed the impeccably styled Michelle Obama as the country's first lady.

And in more ways than one, it was.

The tie at her neck is called a pussy-bow, an old style with a complex history.

The bows date back to at least the 1930s, when the floppy, feminine bow most likely received its name from the bows tied under kittens' chins. In the 1970s, it became part of the working woman's wardrobe, a take on the bow ties that male counterparts were wearing to the office, and in line with the boxy suits and button-downs that composed what was viewed as appropriate attire. Author John T. Malloy famously advised women to wear neckties if they wanted to move up the corporate ladder in his 1977 bestseller The Woman’s Dress for Success Book.

Margaret Thatcher helped immortalize the look, which was reportedly one attempt by advisors to help soften the Iron Lady's otherwise serious, armor-like wardrobe.

As the workforce began to diversify, however, women started resenting dress codes that forced them to blend in with men in order to be taken seriously. Pussy-bow blouses went the way of shoulder pads, fading from fashion with a negative connotation as a repressive symbol for women.

But the look has been revived in recent years with a new connection to the feminist movement. Miuccia Prada flipped the idea on its head in the early 00s, giving the once buttoned-up look a coquettish vibe à la the naughty 50s secretary.


So while most onlookers have made the obvious connection between the name of the blouse and the word used by Trump in his video comments, and speculated whether it was a small act of rebellion, the historical significance of the garment would have made it a serious political statement. That is, if it was Melania's intent.

A campaign spokeswoman told CBS that it was unintentional. 

Copyright 2016 KING

USA TODAY


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