Pussy Bow Collar

AKA: Ascot neckline

How to say it: like a cat

Traditional Features: 

body template

  • stand collar with extended ends that can be tied into a bow
  • can be soft and floppy or stiff
  • sits high on the neck

Origins…

…of the style: While the style of having a bow tied around ones neck is as old as the hills, the Pussy bow style collar did not become a ‘thing’ in fashion until the 20th century. It was born in the 1930s and it has been around ever since.

In the 1940s pussy bows played a big part in the Gibson Girl/late 1800s fashion revival, and stayed popular with the designers (including Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent) through the 50s and 60s, when it caught on in the American market. In the 70s it was a popular office-attire choice for women trying to enter the man-centric workplace, and in the 1980s British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher made the Pussy Bow her signature style. It is suggested that women adopted the pussy bow in the office environment in an attempt to mirror the mens business attire (suit and bow tie) whilst maintaining their femininity – Margaret Thatcher said she wore pussy bows because they were ‘rather softening and pretty’.

The style remained on the marketplace through the 1990s and had a massive resurgence in 2000, which was attributed to Miuccia Prada including them in the Prada runway collections, although many other designers that season, including Tom Ford, Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs and YSL, also featured pussy-bows in their Ready-to-Wear offerings.

The style came back again at the beginning of the 2nd decade of the 21st century, perhaps because of the revival of 80’s fashion, or perhaps just because it is a lovely, feminine style – who knows, either way one look at the current marketplace will tell you that while it may not always be ‘on trend’ the pussy bow collar is classic, and as such will always be in fashion.

…of the name: While thoughts automatically go to a certain part of the female anatomy, the name Pussy Bow actually comes from fact that the soft, floppy style imitates the bows that used to be tied around cats necks back in the day. Think Disney’s Aristocats.

For more info on Pussy Bow Collars try Wikipedia, Jezebel, The Daily Mail, Style at Every Age or check out the Fairchild’s Dictionary of Fashion

Random Facts

  • In Australian Slang “full up to Pussy’s Bow” apparently means that you have had sufficient to eat/drink. Although I am Australian and have never heard that saying before.
  • Margaret Thatcher is so well know for wearing Pussy Bow collars that the current British Prime Ministers wife, Samantha Cameron wore a pussy bow blouse to Baroness Thatcher’s funeral in 2013.

21st Century Pussy Bow Collars

Whether the bow is stiff and right up under your chin, or loosely hanging at the end of a V-neck, the pussy bow is classic style that goes as well with jeans as it does under a sharp business suit. So versatile.

Anna Sui Levis

Anna Sui, Levi’s

Juicy Couture belstaff

Juicy Couture, Belstaff

 

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