For Anna Marie Ludwig of Andover, it was the pantsuit she wore to the first Christmas party she attended after becoming a widow. For Kathleen Ferguson of Jersey City, it’s the leotard she wears when teaching Middle Eastern dance.
More than 500 females from fifteen states, ages four to 92, were asked the same question: What do you wear that makes you feel powerful? In Trappings: Stories of Women, Power, and Clothing, they sample the surprising answers. The book ($29.95, Rutgers University Press) was co-written by Tiffany Ludwig, 32, who grew up in Sparta and now lives in Glen Ridge, and 35-year-old Pittsburgh resident Renee Piechocki.
The pair settled on the subject of power and decided to incorporate clothing because, as Piechocki says, “Everybody gets dressed.” They hit the road in 2001, ultimately choosing 61 women to profile (though photos of everyone they met are displayed in the final pages). Testimonials are indexed by clothing item, power source, and geographic region. Every portrait, along with a quote, is on the project’s web site, twogirlsworking.com. More than 70 New Jerseyans are featured.
“The response has been as unique as the women we interviewed,” Ludwig says. “We’ve heard from women in the corporate world, in college, in a homeless shelter. The answers really reflect that diversity.”