The Bow to Know

By Emily Williams

It’s that time of year again when people are anxiously awaiting phone calls about prospective internships or prepping for their next big interview. Although we know that, ultimately, your impressive resume and killer interview skills are going to land you that dream job, making a bold sartorial statement doesn’t hurt, either.

If you trust the likes of designers like Gucci, Tory Burch and Bottega Veneta, you’ll be reaching for a throwback style the next time you’re dressing to impress—the pussy bow blouse.

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This flowing, feminine blouse featuring a floppy bow at the collar first became popular back in the 70’s and 80’s when women were just starting to gain executive positions in the workplace. The CEO of Hewlett-Packard, Meg Whitman, explained in the PBS documentary Makers: Women Who Make America that the trend started as a female take on a men’s tie.

“It was our attempt to be feminine but fit into what was then a male world,” Whitman said in the film.

There’s been some debate over the origin of the bow’s name. Some claim it’s an anatomical euphemism that stemmed from its role as a feminist statement in the workplace. Others think it’s nicknamed after the floppy bows tied around cats’ necks. But, according to a recent Glamour poll, most women—96 percent in their survey—think the style needs a new name.

A leading contender for a new moniker is the “Thatcher collar,” named after former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher who often sported the look when she governed Great Britain back in the 80’s.

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Thanks to its reappearance on runways and in the wardrobes of celebrities like Alexa Chung, Olivia Palermo, and Kourtney Kardashian, the look isn’t just for prim prime ministers or women trying to blend in at the office anymore.

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Pair it with a pencil skirt and pumps for a classic corporate look or, for a more romantic feel, try wearing it with a flowing midi skirt.

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To add a feminine touch to a tomboyish look, wear your floppy-bowed blouse with a pair of high-waisted trousers.

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For a look that can work for anything from a Sunday family brunch to a downtown lunch date, look for a dress with a fun print and a larger floppy bow.

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Any way you wear it, the pussy bow has become not only one of the year’s most versatile and polished looks but also a feminist statement for any fashion-forward woman.

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