The latest Twitter tempest — about the #righttobarearms — sprang up as most of them do: when someone’s poorly worded tweet was misunderstood.
At first I was bemused by former Prime Minister Kim Campbell taking it upon herself to criticize women newscasters who wear sleeveless shift dresses.
Personally, I like the look: as sleek as Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. And certainly professional: 1950s fashion was nothing if not demure.
And as I joked in Twitter, I’m all for the #righttobarearms, since it’s the best way to show off a bracelet.
But I looked up the blogger she was retweeting, and I think there’s been a little miscommunication. He’s a communications consultant who was noting some research that said that audiences are inclined to think that the more covered-up public speakers are, the more intelligent they are.
And it applied to both men and women.
He goes on to offer five good, common sense tips for dressing appropriately that could apply to any event. Or daily life. And his final point practically explains how I ended up in the jewellery design business.
“Dress to set yourself apart,” Nick Morgan advises. “What accessory can you wear…that will allow you to stand out from the crowd… Finding that one little bit of difference can really make for a memorable stage costume.”
It’s like he read my mind.
I began designing statement necklaces for myself 20 years ago because I wanted to elevate what I referred to as my mommy uniform. I was wrangling two pre-schoolers and I would dress daily in a black T-shirt and dark jeans. Boring, but practical. That outfit had to carry me through my 18-hour days. And I figured it could even work for my part-time job as a photographer, if I added some grown-up jewellery. (I didn’t have time to change. But a necklace? That I could manage.)
I wanted something bold and eye-catching to distract from my pedestrian outfit. But when I went necklace hunting I couldn’t find what I had in mind. I saw some big necklaces, but they were often glass and base metals. I wanted real silver and real gemstones. After a few weeks of searching, I gave up and hit one of the gem shops to see if I could make that necklace that was in my head.
And I made quite a few.
And eventually it became a business.
So I think this guy’s fashion advice is pretty good. Although I’m not so sure about that research study, which came from psychology researchers at a trio of universities: Yale, Maryland, and Northeastern.
It’s called “Sexiness and Sweaters: The Psychology of Objectification.” Naturally the subjects were university students. And I’m not so sure we should be making our life decisions based on the perceptions of undergrads.