The Woman’s Dress for Success Book

The Womens Dress for Success Book by John T. Molloy, 1978

This is The Woman’s Dress for Success Book, first published 1978. I am in love with the duel photograph on the cover, especially the part where this woman is standing up at a board meeting wearing a white muumuu and holding a glass of wine. I’m basically 100% anti-professional by the standards of this book, and even I know that you should always hide your work wine in a travel mug (kidding! totally kidding!).

I’m also delighted by the knowledge that in 1978 America had a best-known clothing consultant. I wonder how many aspiring clothing consultants he beat out for that title. (Apparently it was a fair number judging by the cranky footnote on page 30 disavowing affiliation with other speakers or consultants.)

As wonderful as the front cover is however, it cannot hold a candle to the creepy Svengali pose selected for the back cover.

The Womens Dress for Success Book by John T. Molloy, 1978

Please, ambitious American career woman, allow John T. Molloy to gently cradle your shoulders and mould you into the high-powered executive he knows you could be if you’d just stop dressing like a tramp.

This is the beginning of the introduction, p 15-16, which I need to quote in full because it’s wonderful.

The Mistakes Women Make and How to Correct Them

This is the most important book ever written about women’s clothes because it is based on scientific research, not on opinion.

The advice in this book will help women make substantial gains in business and in their social lives. It should also revolutionize their clothes-buying habits.

Most American women dress for failure. I have said that before about men, and research shows it applies equally to women. Women dress for failure because they make three mistakes.

1. They let the fashion industry influence their choice of business clothes.
2. They often still view themselves mainly as sex objects.
3. The let their socioeconomic background influence their choice of clothing.

The only reasonable alternative is for women to let science help them choose their clothes.


In other words:
1. Ladies, the problem is not that the playing field is massively tilted against you, the problem is your failure-clothes.
2. Conform.
3. Conform!

Half of me is really enjoying reading this, and the other half is horrified by how recent the advice sounds (aside from the bits about acceptable ways to tie the scarf on your power suit).