An ill-dressed father discusses dress with his daughter

“How do I look?” asks Flo, my beautiful daughter, as I’m doing the washing up.

“Not good. Sloppy, like a half-hearted hippie.” She’s wearing a tie-dyed wrap around skirt and a loose cream coloured top. The emphasis is on looseness, easiness. Nothing is tight.

“I know, but it feels good.”

“You take after me not your mother.” I think nothing at all about what I wear—except that it must be loose. I hate to be constrained. Flo’s mother thinks constantly about how she looks. Not for anybody else but for herself. Like the artist she is, she’s almost always disappointed.

“One awful thing about this world,” I say becoming all fatherly and philosophical, “is that women are judged much more by how they look than men are.” And even men are, I think, remembering words Lin, my wife, read to me yesterday from the FT about how “your clothes are making a statement about you every minute of every day, whether you like it or not.”

“I don’t care.”

“You mean that you don’t care how you look or you don’t care that women are judged by how they look.”

“Both.”

“That mightn’t be wise. Imagine that you and Annie are competing for a job. I fear that if Annie is better, sharper dressed they’ll give the job to her even if she’s not as well qualified, and the judgement is probably unconscious not conscious.”

“Work’s different. Then I do dress properly.”

“But do you accept that women are judged more by how they look than men are?”

“No.”

“Good for you.”

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