Beauty. Fashion. Food. Lifestyle.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Stepping Out Confidently: How Fashion Empowers You

A lot can be said about the fashion industry. Many people don’t understand it, many more find it frivolous at best and exploitative at worst but, lest we forget the iconic monologue from the Devil wears Prada:

“However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs, and it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry, when in fact, you’re wearing a sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room… from a pile of “stuff.”

Now, that was a particularly spicy retort, but let’s remember that throughout the ages women have used clothing, accessories, make-up, and dramatic hair to make statements about their identities, their social classes, and to show membership in certain groups, especially when they couldn’t always use their words to do it.

Image Source: Pixabay CC0 License

Women are often criticized for their interest in fashion or for following certain trends or for wanting to be seen as being fashionable in the first place. But what is often forgotten is that for the longest time, this was one of the only ways that women could control what was happening in their immediate environments. Even then, at work, the evolution of the feminine wardrobe has been something of social commentary in and of itself.

It’s hard to remember a time when it was controversial for women to wear pants, much less skirts sans stockings or pantyhose, but it wasn’t that long ago.


Remember corsets? Corsets narrowed waistlines and gave women those hourglass figures that men thought they should have and it’s shocking to think that corsets survived from the middle ages, through the French Revolution, and into the early 1900s. This literal symbol of keeping women “in place” has now become symbols of power as women have reclaimed them - and naturally made them more comfortable and fashion-worthy. Check out a corset top for inspiration.

Denim today is used to make a variety of clothes and accessories, from jeans to handbags, jackets, and skirts. Many people don’t know that what we today know as “jeans” were first worn by miners for their durability and then Levi Strauss in 1871 recognized their versatility and the rest as they say. But, it wasn’t until 1934 that Lady Levi’s were released, a solid 5 years before WWII. With that being said, it is thought that the oldest denim garment on record for a woman is a jacket that dates to 1850 at the time of California’s gold rush.

The time of Coco Chanel. There is no amount of hyperbole here when history records this iconic French designer as being one of the most influential women in history. She borrowed her boyfriend’s suits, wore sailor pants, and as war broke out in Europe, spearheaded the movement that allowed women to replace long, flowy dresses for trousers as they headed out to work while their men headed to war.

Women’s fashion also very much represented aspirations and at no time was this more evident than during the great depression. It fell to the women of Hollywood to keep the nation inspired with their furs and jewels and created moments of escape for a nation otherwise in the grips of a catastrophic economic meltdown.

There are so many of these moments that we could look back to, to see just how far we’ve come. Not just socially, but in politics, business, academia, and the arts, women now occupy spaces that our ancestors could only have dreamed of. We continue to identify these journeys with how we dress and how we use shapes, colors, and lines to define expectations and management perceptions.

Feminists, while seemingly not an obvious source of “fashionable empowerment” stories used fashion to show their ‘separateness’ from the misogynistic expectations of men on how their women were supposed to look and behave. It’s altogether quite fascinating seeing how this evolution continues today, could you imagine our grandmothers having seven different ways to wear a sports bra? Correction - could you imagine them having a sports bra?

It’s an exciting, colorful, and energetic world and throughout the ages, our clothing and accessories have defined who we think we are and how we want everyone else to see us. Without uttering a word, we can change the energy of a space simply by arriving in it - and looking drop-dead gorgeous, and now, we don’t have to sacrifice our femininity to do it either.

Perhaps it’s proper then to end this post with a quote by Coco Chanel:

“Women have always been the strong ones of the world. The men are always seeking from women a little pillow to put their heads down on. They are always longing for the mother who held them as infants.”

I think we’ll take that. Mercí Coco.

Blogger Template Created by pipdig