It’s the International Women’s Day today and I thought I’d highlight it by bringing up some important moments in the Western fashion history that in one way or another have been of significance for feminism. Fashion might be thought of as a superficiality but it’s also a canvas of society. Our values, ideals, culture and societal conditions. What we wear says something about how we live and have always done so. With that said, here’s some moments in the fashion history where progress was made!
Feminist Moments In The Fashion History
The legendary French fashion designer was a breath of fresh air in the early decades of the 20th century. Women’s fashion had for long been about the corset and forming the body to suit the societal ideals. This was the case for the first years of the 1900s too, as the hourglass figure was trending with the pigeon chest in focus, demanding a corset to work the silhouette. Chanel opposed this idea and thought that clothes were to liberate women, make them feel free and elegant. She encouraged women to abandon the corsets and instead go for a loose silhouette, aka the rectangular shape of the 1920s. She also promoted pants for women, a fashion that had been exclusive to men for centuries. By erasing the lines of what clothes were entitled to the respective genders, women wearing pants became a metaphor for women fighting for their righteous place in society. Around the same time, the early decades of the 20th century, women globally received the right to vote, though it often came with conditions and was partly highly excluding.
In the 1970s the next wave of the feminist movement peaked and it was reflected in the fashion, of course. The unisex fashion was cemented during this decade where the frames of typical gender fashion was partly replaced with a more gender neutral fashion. People now shared colors, prints and style of clothes. The jumpsuit is a definite example of this, being popularly used by everyone in the 70s though it today might be considered more of a piece for women. It was an important statement for the societal movement to mark, by the identity of clothes, that men and women are equal.
To state though is that the genderless fashion, then as well as now, is closely related to typical male fashion with neutral, earthy colors, a straight silhouette and subtle prints. We have the jeans, the leather jacket, a t-shirt, a shirt, a blazer etc. Perhaps a tunic, but far from the typical one of women’s fashion. With that said, a genderless fashion reaches for neutrality based on functionality, a fashion that used to be exclusive to men. It’s kind of definite that pants are more useful than a voluminous skirt, but the shying away from prints and colors is in its modern form a reflection of how society today is more comfortable to agree that typical male fashion is better for neutrality. Which is, of course, not one of equality. The fashion world is however partly obeying these unwritten rules with pink clothes for men and bold prints, let’s see if it will reach society too. To remember is that women today are wearing suits which is considered to be empowering, whilst men are ridiculed for wearing a dress.
Black Dress Code
The most recent statement of fashion in the name of the feminist movement is the black dress code that were done at the Golden Globes earlier this year. The dress code was a product of the #MeToo movement as well as Time’s Up, which aimed to highlight the width and depth of the structural injustice and sexism women and marginalized people are exposed to. The Time’s Up movement is about Hollywood and when the Golden Globes came about, wearing black were people’s way of protesting. As Hollywood is in center of the celebrity culture and reaches billions of people globally, it’s of importance that people’s role models are publicly taking a stance for equality. This goes hand in hand with the #AskHerMore movement which is about journalists asking women on the red carpet about their work and not just what they’re wearing.
I personally think it’s crucial that women get asked questions about their work, as that’s what they are mainly there for. But things get a bit ironic and problematic as the same people that don’t want questions about what they wear are the same people that are paid millions of money to wear the creations on the red carpet. I think the problem isn’t that the question shouldn’t be asked, but that everyone should be asked questions about what they wear and not only people in dresses. The red carpet is a commercial event, where clothes are a natural part. If it wasn’t important to show up in the right clothes for the brands as well as the people, the red carpet wouldn’t be the media circus it is today. And if it’s something Hollywood truly care for, it’s publicity. Anyways, the black dress code was only done for the Golden Globes but undoubtedly made a bold statement for the feminist movement.
What are your thoughts on these fashion moments in history? Do you have another favorite? Let’s chat in the comments! Xx