Why Mary Tyler Moore Was A Feminist Style Icon To Me
The death of Mary Tyler Moore really saddened me, but I know her place among feminist style icons will continue to live on in all of us, particularly those of us who found ourselves replicating Mary Tyler Moore's fashion in subcultures throughout the years.
Mary Tyler Moore's Mary Richards character was one of the first employed, single women that graced the TV screen and she wasn't just another supporting role: The entire show was based around her drive, her wit, and her single life. She was a professional in every sense of the word: impeccable manners, offensively hilarious, and a fashion sense I'd give up all of my clothes to have. While we remember the amazing, luxurious long coats with wide lapels, pantsuits with wide bell-bottoms, and large-patterned sweaters made famous by Mary Tyler Moore, let's not forget the sub-cultures she attracted with her unique, versatile sense of fashion.
As television began incorporating more diversity during the show's airtime in the '70s, style followed suit, embracing hippie trends, afro-centric patterns, and punk rock fashion. However, no style spoke truer to the working, single female as Mary's, especially when she rocked the mod fashion trend.
Mary Tyler Moore inspired the modern woman, even if you yourself weren't a professional, she was your inspiration for success and finding the perfect hats to toss blithely in the air. Today, as women continue to solidify their role in the workplace and demand equal pay despite our gender, we can wear knee-high boots and still be the best in the business, and it's all thanks to Mary Tyler Moore. She taught us that just because you look sexy doesn't mean you can't be taken seriously and that being professional doesn't mean you can't keep up with a stylish wardrobe.
In the '90s, while I was cautiously executing my Madonna phase, much to my parent's dismay, my older sister was in the throes of a '70s style that made her my personal, feminist style icon. My sister had found another world: the '90s rave kid. Fueled by performing artists like the amazing Lady Kier, Mary Tyler Moore's mod-esque style was revamped by the early '90s club kid and fortunately, MTM's fashion-sense was always sensible enough to dance in. By the time I was old enough to go to raves, the fashion would later expand to unsightly large, nylon pants and "candy" necklaces, but my time would soon come in yet another Mary Richards-inspired sub-culture.
In case you aren't familiar, the mod fashion that peaked in the '60s and was carried about by fashionistas like Mary Tyler Moore extended to a mod-revival that for many punks never died. For me, it was the perfect time to professionalize my punk attire. In the early 2000s, I traded in my beanies for an angular bob with thick bangs, my Doc Martens for femme knee-high boots, and band hoodies became black turtlenecks. I even had my own Rhoda, whose mod-game was one of the best in the scene.
Watching shows from the early '70s like The Mary Tyler Moore Show definitely inspired us to dabble in the subculture of mod-punk fashion. Just like she had for my sister, reruns of Mary Tyler Moore inspired my Goodwill hunting, and I must say, I owned some of the most adorable outfits that had a combined cost of about $50. While my kinky bangs cut my mod-phase short, my love of vintage clothes, also inspired by Mary Richards, is everlasting.
From club kids and mod-punks to the modern, working woman and the vintage hunter, Mary Tyler Moore's feminist style has shaped and molded many of us trying to find our own sense of self and fashion. Looking back at photos of my sister, friends, and myself, I can see that her memory will always live on in the fashion world. Cheers to the next generation of kids who have yet to discover the Mary Tyler Moore-inspired world of mod-fashion.