"Women can't look sexy on the job," the owner of a New York store that caters to professional women said before she spoke to more than fifty students at the Business School yesterday.
Instead women must cultivate a feminine look, that is not threatening, Mary Feidorak explained as she exhibited her clothes that featured suits, ascots and conservative pumps.
The audience loved it. They applauded when Fiedorak announced that her suits featured pockets sewed lower than men's. Many sighed when Feidorak announced she was in the process of pioneering a briefcase that could also double as a pocketbook.
"I think she has definitely found a niche in the market", said an admiring Hiro Takeuchi, assistant professor of Retailing, after viewing Feidorek's fashions.
Since her store's March opening, Feidorak's business has boomed. "There are a lot of women out there who want to differentiate themselves from secretaries," Feidorak said, and many in the audience agreed.
"It's important to have an executive look," Susan B. Sweeney, a first year student said as she admired the fashions. She added, "All women who work know the importance of a good wardrobe."
Feidorak agreed and explained that her fashions allow women to use "their femininity as a tool."
What makes her fashions feminine but not sexy, according to Feidorak, are the shorter jackets, the softer shirts and of course the flattering ascots.
While Feidorak focused most of her comments on her own fashions, she also answered some of the audience's questions. Feidorak's solution for those difficult days when women must go from the office to evening is to wear a dark suit with the ascot shirt, and when evening rolls around whip out a slinky camisole.
Questions about what to wear in summer were met with a list of absolute don'ts--with green espadrilles and madras shirt dresses heading the list.
"Women must remember they are not men," Feidorak reiterated as the two Business school models paraded around the Aldridge Hall classroom.
Women must wear suits or at least a jacket in the male business world, but Feidorak said those shorter jackets, those neat ascots, and the silk shirts can add a little feminine mystique to the austere society of supply and demand.