Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Style of the Times

At the beginning of the 20th Century, Women were still considered second class citizens.

It was only one hundred years ago that Women were shunned to participate in public life.


Politically, women were excluded from serving on jury, holding office and voting.

Culturally, women were portrayed as one dimensional, weak and inferior.

Socially, women  had very few rights and their legal standing only relied on who they married.
(In the 1920's your husband held your biological rights, including the right to control your reproductive choices)

Economically, they were paid wages less than half of a man's salary and took up little space in universities and the work force.


The political environment of the time heavily influenced women's demand for equal rights.

World War I had just ended and women were asked to return home after making up the work force for nearly a decade while their husbands, brothers and fathers were at war.

As the nineteen hundreds progressed women couldn't make sense of why they were being forced to return to life as it was ten years prior.  They had just played an important role in society.

Knowing their full potential women craved education. As opportunities to receive that education expanded, so did our acknowledgment that we were being denied basic human rights and needed to do something about it. 


Across the United States women banned together to make women's rights a political issue that demanded reform. As a result the Women's Suffrage Movement emerged.

Women's self-consciousness increased and they manifested their beliefs in powerful ways. Speeches, protests, and demonstrations emerged all over America fighting for equal rights.

But the most intriguing way that women expressed their position on women's rights was fashion.


Fashion has always made a statement. The 1920's silhouette evolved from the Edwardian "S" shape supported by corsets, to one that was flat and straight - hindering all hints of the feminine shape. Taking the attention away from Venus and the voyeuristic viewer and onto the fact that if you really asked Venus, what she undoubtedly wants is the same rights as Adonis.

Suddenly, boyish silhouettes, short hair, hats and oversized dresses with low waistlines took over the fashion scene with Chanel and Lanvin leading the high-end market. Chanel founder Coco Chanel began making fashion practical for women, and out of durable materials that were usually reserved for men's suits.



 Although, we have made political and social leaps since 1920 there are still many ways in which women are not equal to men.




Men* are trying to control who should hold office (Fox News opinions about Hillary Clinton). Women still do not have equal pay and opportunity in the work force. Women are still portrayed as inferior sexual objection in main stream media. And some conservative men are still trying to control our biological systems, by deciding whether or not we have the right to make our own decisions about our bodies.

*(not all men, bless be the guys who can genuinely agree they want to see their mothers, sisters, friends and lovers to have the same opportunities)

It's fascinating to me just how similar life in 2015 is to what it was nearly one hundred years ago.


As the social and political events of the 1920's reflected in boyish shapes, today oversized and masculine silhouette's have once again taken over the fashion scene.

Sizing-up has never been more in style. From baggy pants, and long tees, to blazer's and hats. We too are more aware of our position in this world today.  A position that is unfortunately still not the same as men.


Are we dressing more gender neutral and boyish so we can be seen equally as men?

Is it a coincidence that women are using the most visual tool of fashion to once again express our feelings about women's rights?


...I think not.


- Stephanie

No comments:

Post a Comment