I'm on a girly kick. This started a few months ago, sometime over the summer. I started wearing skirts, heels and makeup. It's really been an evolution, a sort of gradual shift.
When I was in college, I rejected all of this stuff. Because, back then, girly stuff was a marker that you accepted the status of women as inferior beings, beautiful toys for men. So I dressed all in black, no makeup, no bra. I stuck to this basic dress code in graduate school, dressing slightly better when I was teaching. When I got a corporate job, I went back to heels, skirts and makeup.
Over the years I've vascillated back and forth between these two extremes, finally settling for something in between. But I felt kind of blah. Just by pumping it up a notch, I feel very different. It's odd. In college, if I wore "girly" clothes, I felt disenfranchised somehow, like I was following somebody else's rules. Now, I feel just the opposite. It doesn't make any logical sense, really. I do feel, though, that trends have changed. In the 80s, women entering the work force tried to dress more "manly." Now, they don't need to in order to be taken seriously. Certainly, there is certain clothing that is unprofessional looking (for either gender), but in general, women can wear more feminine clothes and not be harming their professional image.
I don't really like to reinforce the idea that it's what's on the outside that counts, but I think you can't discount a first impression. People do judge you based on how you look, even if they modify that judgement over time. And you know, I just like being a little bit girly. It's fun.