PassionForColors® talks to women in different countries and in different roles in society, regarding the way we dress, why we dress the way we do and what role it plays for us. This time we have talked to Camilla Wagner, one of our most well-known women’s rights and gender equality advocators, who is also a journalist, the founder of Klara K and much more.
Camilla, you have worked as a journalist for many years and you were early very successful in drawing focus and attention to the issue of inequality in the Swedish business life and addressing it with concrete actions. Among many other things you implemented the “Anders index” and initiated the ”125 most powerful women’s list”. When it comes to how/if media talks about female top executives vs male top executives, as regards to their appearance and the way they dress. In your view, how does this differ between men and women? Have you seen a change over time?
Yes, this is an interesting phenomenon. Media tends to want to describe women, regarding everything actually. The hair, which clothes women wear, the color of their lipstick. Yes, virtually anything you can think of. We do not do that when we write about men. All editorial offices know this and when they do it, they are always criticized. Still, you see it all the time. The more power a woman has, the more need there seems to be to describe her as if she was a car or another type of item that can be valued.
Disregarding media, have you seen changes in how female top executives dress over time, as we have moved towards a more equal society? Do you see any particular trend now, when it comes to the younger generation?
That is an interesting question. Up until maybe 10 years ago, women in top positions were trying to blend in among all the suits. Potentially a woman could wear a traditional pen-skirt instead of pants, but almost always with a white blouse or a jacket. Then something interesting happened. Stronger colors and bolder patterns appeared. The styles also became more allowing for different body shapes. Clothes are not used any longer in order to fit in. Today clothes are used to make an impression. The younger generation is also more devoted to taking care of the environment, hence quality is preferred over quantity and materials which do not need dry cleaning are appreciated.
Camilla, you were also the one behind the “tied-blouse manifestation” for Sara Danius, where wearing a specific garment became a very strong sign of showing support adopted by so many. How did that happen?
When I tweeted that” tomorrow we are wearing tied-blouses” after Sara Danius had had to resign from her position at the Swedish Academy, I had no idea that it would spread all over the country. At first, I wrote on Facebook that I was going to go on a hunger strike in front of the Academy. A friend of mine answered that she was going to join me and that she was going to wear a tied-blouse. Then I instantly felt that that was the best contribution we could make. To wear a tied-blouse or a scarf is something that everyone can do, and it became an effectful demonstration.
What does the way you dress mean to you in your professional life? How do you think when preparing for an event, being at the focus of attention, as relates to how you dress?
I put quite a lot of effort into planning what to wear. Especially if I am giving a lecture about gender equality for the Swedish trade and industry. I know that many men can get a bit nervous when gender equality is on the agenda, so I am trying to wear happy clothes. E.g. a tied-blouse with teddy bears or cats, that is not frightening, and it makes it easier to talk about something that is difficult. For a larger event, I often choose happy colors and beautiful patterns to make me feel that I own the stage. It gives me a little bit of an extra push also to claim my space and deliver my message with confidence.
Who inspires you when it comes to the way She dresses?
Right now, I think I must say Sara Danius. The dress she wore for the Nobel prize award was such a wonderful punch in the face to the whole patriarchate. By wearing that she showed them that “different is the future, more of the same belongs to the past”.
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