Packaging Yourself

Lauren Pisano

2019 - Ongoing

My most recent series of self-portraits illustrates the fashion “don’ts” John T. Molloy gives women in his 1977 book, "A Woman’s Dress for Success." Under the guise of scientific research, Malloy instructs women on which outfits and accessories will "make or break" them in the professional world and beyond. By photographing myself wearing the items that he warns against, I am drawing attention to the stiflingly sexist nature of not only this book, but to the conversation which surrounds a woman's appearance. 

Throughout history, women have adhered to fashion “rules” not only to advance their presence in society and the workplace, but in an attempt to avoid unwanted attention, or worse, from men. Through this series I hope to create window for women to see that by subconsciously subscribing to these ideas, often enforced by men with power, they have suppressed their own version of femininity, authority and sexuality in their wardrobe.

Way before any professional situation, young girls knew that how men would react to their appearance was the ultimate decider in what was a do vs. a do not wear. From the moment we are able to select our own clothes, women are taught to fully take on the blame for who we might attract. The burden of this unspoken truth, which results in the constant act of making oneself smaller and unobtrusive, prevents women from finding comfort and confidence through their own style and voice.

The advice given by Molloy in “Dress for Success” makes it clear that the same rules and burdens apply to woman in the workplace, and while we are taught the worst case scenario is being overlooked for a promotion, we understand, through a lifetime of criticisms that were rarely elaborated on, such as our skirts are too short or we are showing too much skin, that the consequences are much worse.

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  • Doing it Wrong: Silk Scarf with a Designer Label

  • Doing it Wrong: Cheap Handbag

  • Doing it Wrong: Dangling Earrings

  • Doing it Wrong: Glasses

  • Doing it Wrong: No Wedding Ring

  • Doing it Wrong: Summer Dresses

  • Doing it Wrong: Shirt and Tie

  • Doing it Wrong: Halter Top

  • Doing it Wrong: Knit

  • Doing it Wrong: Hair Too Long/ Too Short

  • Doing it Wrong: Platform Shoes

  • Doing it Wrong: Alcohol

  • Doing it Wrong: Feminine Prints

  • Doing it Wrong: Colored Pantyhose

  • Doing it Wrong: Exotic Colors

  • Doing it Wrong: Imitating Men

  • Doing it Wrong: Pants

  • Doing it Wrong: Umbrella with Hollow Spokes

  • Doing it Wrong: Colorful Wallet

  • Doing it Wrong: Makeup