Tuesday, November 1, 2022

the art of power dressing

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

The art of power dressing within fashion has been around for decades, allowing people to make a political statement through the clothes they wear. Fashion has become a tool or a mouthpiece to allow people to express their views about social and political issues without having to explicitly say something. Especially women, it has enabled them to establish their authority within society and the workplace, that may have been previously dominated by men. It initially started as taking typical male clothes and adapting them to fit the female body. Most famously the example of the suit, and how women have used it as a tool to show their equality to their male counterparts. However, fashion more recently, has been used as a tool to make bold political statements about the current state of the world.

The history of the power suit for women, goes all the way back to the 1920/30s where British civil rights activist Nancy Cunard stood out for her square-shouldered men’s blazer. Fashion houses such as Chanel and Schiaparelli were also including power shoulders and tweed suits in their collections at the time. By the 40s, ‘scaled-up shoulders’ were becoming increasingly popularised, but went on a slight hiatus until the 80s where the shoulders returned as a cultural phenomenon.

 It surfaced as one of the most iconic silhouettes of the 20th century due to its ability to hide the feminine form with an exaggerated masculine outline, which allowed fashion to blend between male and female clothes. It was a way to challenge gender roles and with popular artists such as Grace Jones and Madonna wearing them, it was easy to integrate into popular clothing. Now in the modern day, blazers and suits have become a staple piece for many women. The genderless over-sized blazer exudes a new sense of confidence and is an easy way to smarten up any outfit.

Politics in fashion within the last ten years or so has seen statements such as SS/17 New York Fashion week, with the likes of Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger dispatch white bandanas with their invitations or showed models wearing them down the runway. The bandanas were created by ‘Business of Fashion’ who were calling on others to show support for ‘solidarity, human unity and inclusiveness.’ The integration of the bandanas into shows were intended to promote a message of equality regardless of religion, race, gender etc.

The Met Gala has also been a real hotspot for politics and power dressing. In 2021, Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez arrived in a white Aurora James gown with red spray painted ‘tax the rich’ on it. Some people saw this at hypocrisy for attending an event that is for the wealthiest and most privileged members in society, but others dubbed it as ‘simply iconic’ and that she has ‘more balls than any man in Congress.’ Other notable mentions include New York Mayor Eric Adams, who in 2022, wore a black jacket decorated with a message of ‘End Gun Violence.’ In 2021, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, wore a vibrant dress with a cape that detailed messages in support of equal rights for women.





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