Could the Real ‘New Woman’ Please Stand Up?

The New Woman at work: a couple of looks from Celine.

Alright ladies, listen up because this one is for you. These past few months there’s been a lot of talk circulating about this New Woman in town, and rumor has it she’s quite the showstopper. In the morning she dons a crisp white shirt and smart leather skirt, throws on an impeccably tailored navy coat (courtesy of Celine and Stella McCartney), and heads to the office of some big shot law firm, where, I kid you not, they hired a 5 star chef just to cook her gluten-free meals. You better believe that the New Woman is bringing home the bacon. And if you’re hoping that this sterile, minimalist workwear has ruined her love life, think again—because once the New Woman steps out of the office she suddenly loses her waifish pixie form and grows curves voluptuous enough to give Beyoncé a run for the title of Most Bootylicious. No minimalist coats and trousers for this foxy lady—it’s all about the full skirts, the hip cinching, that corset. You probably saw her staking a claim on the hearts of straight men everywhere at Louis Vuitton and Prada. Yeah, you know…that woman.

The New Woman at work: a couple of looks from Stella McCartney.

The New Women after hours: a couple of looks from Louis Vuitton.

But hold on for just a minute, you might be saying, how does the New Woman do it? Not even in our modern, kind of post-sexist world could the most self-realized woman pull off being the tailored corporate boss and the perfect 50’s era housewife without suffering a major identity crisis. So, what’s the deal? Do we just accept that the New Woman is bionic, and join her in her quest to represent the ideal womanhood? Is it now Celine and Stella McCartney for the workplace, and Louis Vuitton and Prada for the romance? Perhaps if we stick to these rules, we’ll be on the same path to success as the New Woman.

The New Woman after hours: a couple of looks from Prada. All images courtesy of

Or will we? In this mad rush to figure out what the New Woman looks like, I think we’ve forgotten who the New Woman actually is. Yes, she’s smart; yes, she’s flirty; and yes, she’s more than just some two-dimensional stereotype. Perhaps, in her spare time, the New Woman enjoys watching videos of Justin Bieber while eating Taco Bell. Where does that fit into the holy trinity (aka the three words most commonly used by designers to describe the “perfect” woman) of “strong, confident, and sexy”? If designers want to design for the New Woman, then they’re going to have to move past the clichéd storylines of luxury workwear/cocktails in the evening. I think everyone, including the New Woman, deserves that much.

Aimee Shimizu
BARE Reporter


  1. First off, let me say that you're a very articulate and comical writer, Aimee. Secondly, I think the idea of the New Woman needed to finally be confronted. Designers go on throwing this phrase around, when you really know that they only say that because they don't have a legitimate explanation for their collection! Lastly, the Modern Woman should never be precisely ONE woman, but a slew of powerful women. The only thing they have in common? (Like you said) their refusal to conform to past century domestic ideas.

    Right on!

  2. Great interesting topic! Yea I feel like they just keep asking so much of modern women. And the New Woman is such a vague term anyway.