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Which is correct?

A woman and her clothes was serious business

OR

A woman and her clothes were serious business

Please provide an explanation.

Thank you

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It would be unusual for this sentence to actually be framed in the past tense. Normally, you would hear:

A woman and her clothes is serious businesses.

Here, the two go together as a collective item.

Another such example is:

Drinking and driving is illegal.

Given this collective phrasing, if it were to be put in the past tense for some reason, it would remain as a single item:

A woman and her clothes was serious business.

Or, perhaps better in this case:

A woman and her clothes used to be serious business.

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