Talbots Is Celebrating the ‘Ladylike’ Badassery of Totally Normal Women

And we can still clean house

Have you ever walked into a Talbots?

My personal feeling has always been that it’s for some nondescript older woman, though who she is (a mom?) and what she does (work in an office…?) remains unclear. All we know is, she wears an awful lot of herringbone, usually in red.

Young women seeking their starter “brand” for grownup life pay attention to what retailers are trying to convey, which is why ads make such good shorthand. But we’ve rarely seen a Talbots ad, leaving us only with our impressions of its lackluster storefronts—which perhaps explains that one time, 20 years ago, when Arnold tried clarifying who the brand was.

Now, with help from MullenLowe, Talbots is finally speaking for itself.

Its new campaign, “Because I’m a Lady,” takes that first impression and clarifies it for a modern audience—by subverting everything we think about the Talbots woman, and along with it, women in general. Below is a one-minute spot that neatly explains the concept.

A few things we didn’t know about Talbots: It’s existed for 70 years. And the company is comprised of 92 percent women. A Talbots woman can be casual or formal; what stands out is that she isn’t model-skinny, or unrealistically young. The women here appear in a variety of youthful to middle ages and are compellingly diverse.

They look normal. They’re unapologetic. And perhaps because they’re all busy as hell, they’re taking old-school ideas like “moving with grace” and throwing them out the ladies’ prep school window. (On the driver’s side.)

That doesn’t mean we don’t know how to have a good time. For modern women, keeping fine company is critical.

The ad above will resonate for those who like to sneak off and have a quiet meal, something people might counter as “a bit sad”—I’ve heard it, and I don’t care. That Talbots recognizes this tiny insight says a lot about what it knows: However much we like to dance in cars (to the chagrin of our partners), the demands on us are many. Sometimes the best medicine is dinner alone with one’s thoughts.

Preferably with a single, ladylike glass of wine. Fans of Scandal’s bottle-swigging Olivia, rejoice! Talbots knows what your glass of wine looks like.

Which isn’t to say we can’t still enjoy a gentle laugh with friends. Don’t act like you don’t know about the giggle-snorts.

“We set out to bring light and dimension to the ongoing conversation of what it means to be a lady today,” says Talbots svp of marketing, Deborah Cavanagh. “As a brand, we are challenging perceptions and social conventions, and illuminating universal themes and truths that connect with all women. Like fashion, which evolves over time, so must definitions and beliefs.”

Four more ads in the campaign reprise takes from the one-minute film. In them, you’ll learn how to take a compliment—specifically that old back-hander, “I see a few people wrote that you’re bossy.” Own it, Bey-hivers.

Beauty sleep? We’re all about it, wherever it can be had.

And modern women still find time to clean house. Though that might mean something different from what it did in the 1950s.

Last but not least is a reflection on gigantic lady-handbags, packed with the essentials.

The ads will appear across Talbots’ social networks. They’ll also be shared by influencers, in selected editorial and on Talbots.com.

“At Talbots, we appreciate and celebrate women every day,” Cavanagh continues. “This campaign pays homage to all of those fun, confident, funny, smart, bad-ass modern women who proudly call themselves ladies. We want to prove to the world that women get better as they age, they are not a depreciating asset—a message very few brands celebrate.”