Fashion and Feminism: How Women Have Been Exploiting Style in the Fight for Equality
By: Sammy F. ('18)
The 1900s: The American Women’s Rights Suffragettes
These women were at the forefront of the Women’s Rights Movement, paving the way for the feminist movement that would take off and gain momentum into the 21st century. Naturally, as they marched through the streets and showed America the strength of its women, they needed to accent their struggle for equality by choosing three colors that acted as a bold ode to their solidarity. Their choice? Green, white, and purple. The green represented hope, the white represented purity, and the purple represented dignity. The colors were used as a political statement and acted as a sign of support for the movement. The suffragettes strengthened their cause through the colors, which were a poignant declaration of the American women’s harmony and tenacity.
1920s: Bold and Bobbed
Often, women in the 1920s are remembered for their sassy bobbed haircuts and flapper dresses. However, their short hair did more than accentuate their facial features- it served as a statement of independence and equality for women. As they rejected what was thought of to be feminine hairstyles and chopped their locks, their new do’s served as symbols of a new era of what it means to look like a women. These women broadcasted their progressive views through cutting off their hair and metaphorically breaking the shackles of gender inequality that attempted to dictate what beauty looks like for women.
1960s: Short Skirt, Sexy Statement
The mini skirt had a huge impact on changing how women dress. With its revealing length and flirty fit, the mini skirt confronted what was considered respectable and tolerable for women to wear. After years of sexual oppression, women were taking back their bodies and their sexiness through sporting shorter skirts and showing off their legs. Women, who were once defined by their roles in the home, were reshaping their image. Women were no longer allowing their motherhood to dictate their sexuality, and they displayed it through wearing mini skirts and making jaws drop.
1980: Power Suits for Power Women
Beginning in the late 20th century, the popularization of pant suits called into question how women, who were now entering the work force at full speed, were “supposed” to dress. On one hand, power suits allowed a woman to command attention and respect with her serious, lets-get-down-to-business attire. At the same time, many wondered if it was counterproductive for women, who were trying to advocate for more female representation in the working fields, to dress like men rather than flaunting their femininity. However, whether or not women rocked a suit or a skirt is second to the fact that they were shattering gender norms by working in traditionally male dominated fields and looking good while doing it.
Today, as the feminist movement has grown and spread so has women’s use of style to express our beliefs. Through movements like “Free the Nipple” and the increasing freedom of expression with how we dress, women are still combining feminism and fashion to make a statement. Designers like Christian Dior and Stella McCartney implemented feminist slogans, such as “we should all be feminist” and “girl thanks”, into some of their latest collections. However, although support for women’s rights has continuously been showcased through women’s style, we still have to remember that feminism is not defined by one look and how we chose dress. While it is really cool that fashion can bring attention to women’s rights, as Maya Singer says, “feminism is not a matter of appearances. Feminism is about building a world where women- all of them- have the opportunity to have rich, satisfying lives”.
Komar, Marlen. "How Women Have Used Fashion As A Feminist Tool Throughout History." Bustle. Bustle, 17 Nov. 2016. Web. 5 May 2017.
It’s All About How You Rock It
By: John H. ('18)
Hi, I’m John and I’m a junior. I have been told that I tend to make “interesting” clothing choices. I’m still not sure if that’s a good thing or not. Either way it doesn’t change style, or lack of, some might argue. I’m writing this article to help you to pick out a killer outfit in the morning and find your style. To help you pick out that killer outfit you can do a few things. You can plan this out the night before or make it part of your morning routine. To help you get started you can use my morning routine.
First, I wake up brush my teeth with a bottle of… you know what I mean. Then I get the shower going. I recommend a morning shower if you can fit it in. A morning shower helps me wake up and feel fresh and clean. I recommend a shampoo, conditioner, and body wash three-in-one. This is for speed so you can get that extra few minutes of beauty sleep. Next comes the main event, choosing your irresistibly killer outfit.
I always work inside to out when picking my clothes. I like to roll with the classic pair of boxers that have been worn in just the right amount where they are not in tatters but they don’t feel like stiff construction paper. If you are the kind of person that likes a little more security, a comfy pair of briefs should do. And hey, if you are cruisin with some Tighty Whities, I don’t judge, you do you. If you are a more reserved person, this is where you can get creative. A funky, interesting pair of drawers can work wonders for a dude’s confidence. If you got something saucy on, you walk with a little more pep in your step.
Next, I move to the pants. This is where the weather app is crucial. You don’t need to be that guy that wears shorts no matter how cold it is. We get it, you’re a tough guy. If it’s a “pants day” I recommend a pair of dark or light khakis. If you’re comfortable wearing them, I like jeans because they make you look a little older and also act as a wearable hand wipe. If you’re feeling saucy, maybe a sweet pair of cords would be called for. If it’s a “shorts day” I would once again go with dark or light khakis. However, a pink, purple, green, or blue pair a could times a week would be nice to switch it up. Just make sure you pick out the right shirt so you don’t look like an Easter egg. If you are looking for something that would be lighter in material some seersucker would be pretty suave. You last and most bold option is jorts. I have only ventured here a couple times, although never to school, and I have to say if you have the self-confidence and the right length, they can change your day. Next, we move to the shirt.
My shirt choices are often influenced by the day of the week. Mondays are definitely a comfort day. Find something soft and not too out there. I recommend a white or gray shirt with a frocket area logo and maybe something on the back. Tuesdays are when you can start to embrace the struggle of the week and spice it up with a different colored tee. This is also a good day for a collared shirt to keep things semi casual and throw it back to those middle school dress code days. Wednesdays are traditionally Hawaiian shirts, but they seem to be fading, so this is a good day for an SSBD (short sleeved button down). Next, is Jersday or Jersey Thursday. Jersday calls for the most interesting and obscure players and sports you can whip out of your closet. Make it bold. If you don’t have a jersey a team T-shirt would work well. Any college or pro team of your choice. Basically a college shirt works for any day of the week. Now Fridays are where you really get creative. You should get more interesting and creative as the week progresses. Fridays you want something that says something like, “Hi, I’m John and I’m ready to party.” This can be said with a number of things: Another Jersey, an SSBD, a cool T, or that frat button down.
Then we have the weekend. Saturdays are for the boys, so go all out. Sundays unfortunately call for basically whatever shirt you can do homework in. If you work best with no shirt on, then do it.
Now we work down to the feet. Your socks are another place you can get creative. You can go with the classic never fading white Nike calf socks or black ones if you prefer. These should be scrunched down just the right amount to where it’s almost messy, but still intentional. Then you have your slightly scrutinized ankle socks, although I’m not sure why given they are the best preventers of a defined sock tan. You can also go with some crazy socks. Get colorful. Lastly, you pick out your shoes.
You have so much liberty with style here. This is one of the best ways to showcase you. You can go with the basic gray New Balances like half the guys in the grade, or you can be yourself and find something no one else will have. Converse are cheaper and are easy to find something creative and unique. I think some air max’s are sweet too if they are not just black in white. Boat shoes, slippers, crocs, can’t go wrong when it comes to comfort.
In the end it doesn’t really matter what you wear. No matter if you’re in a “whatever shirt is on top” kind of mood or “dig through the depths of hell to find that favorite little league shirt”, it’s all about how you rock it. To quote the World Series Champions Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon, “If you think you look hot, you wear it.”
The Second Best Way to Recycle
By: Grayson C ('18)
While I am always an advocate for disposing of plastics, clean aluminum, and paper products in recycling bins, there is one other form of recycling beyond that of just disposing trash that has proved to be comparable in personal satisfaction and sustainability. I’m talking about the rise of a trend that has swept millennials across the US to wipe out shops specializing in vintage, retro, and consignment stores and flooded all the goodwills and salvation armies in every small town pocket of the nation with hipsters searching for that one anomalous bargain find; I’m talking about thrifting. Throwback to 2013 when the reignited concept hit mass media with Macklemore’s hit song, Thrift Shop, throwing people young and old across the country into a frenzy of bargain shopping. Although the pride in buying used or recycled clothing is still thriving in 2017, Country Day students haven’t fully hopped on the bandwagon for this one, so if you have ever questioned thrift shopping because of a hesitation against wearing an item of clothing previously worn by a stranger, here are all of reasons to absolutely buy that slightly musty smelling blouse and for a fraction of the cost, plus my obsessive strategies to the ins and outs of thrift shopping:
To start, when I say thrift stores I do not mean places like Buffalo Exchange, Stash pad, and Plato’s Closet where items are carefully accepted by professionals before being dry-cleaned, professionally tagged, and organized onto glimmering rotundas of clothes the floor. Real thrift stores are the nitty gritty, 3 dollar dress selling Value Villages, Goodwills, and small town graveyards for every family’s unneeded “junk” where hand stapled red, green, and yell tags adorn items. These are the stores where all the clothes and collateral have been donated and thrown immediately onto the floor without consideration of stains or lingering mothball smells; they are a hoarder’s storage place and between the racks of clothes, broken toys and kitchen appliances, greasy children’s books and piles of ancient looking jewelry: a thrifter’s paradise. Although it can be overwhelming sifting through loosely organized clothing racks with babies crying in the background and old women pushing you to move further down with their dilapidated shopping carts, the thrill of finding “treasure pieces” comes in exactly that same sense of urgency and excitement. Some people are deterred by the subtle grimy feeling your hands are left with after handling racks of people’s worn denim overalls and fisherman knitted wool sweaters, but I crave the feeling of trying on the perfect faux fur vest with just enough matted strands of synthetic fabric to look like it came straight out of Penny Lane’s closet from the movie Almost Famous.
You might find in the midst of this bargain-hunting rush you can get a little carried away with the items that are not as essential, for example the retro radio I bought at Goodwill thinking I would carry it around on my shoulder like a 90’s rapper that never ended up working, or the mustard yellow home phone from the Sleepy Poet I saved because I knew it would never serve its purpose again in the age of iPhones. Macklemore gets it:
“Dookie brown leather jacket that I found diggin'
They had a broken keyboard, I bought a broken keyboard
I bought a skeet blanket, then I bought a kneeboard”
(Yellow Dial Phone Sleepy Poet $10)
(Goodwill stereo $3)
In order to avoid accumulating an acropolis of broken appliances and knick knacks like I have, more upscale consignment stores like Buffalo Exchange, Stash Pad, and Savvy Seconds can offer an easier experience in picking out more up to date pieces, just for a higher price. These stores are the easiest to maneuver if you don’t like getting your hands dirty, and will carry a larger variety of name brand pieces, all for a cost ranging from around 8 to 25 dollars. These types of stores are where I invest my time in selling clothes I no longer wear (or took from my mom’s closet), to receive a small monetary amount in either store credit or cash. Consignment offers an experience where you can contribute to the cycle of clothing but avoid the grungy and exhausting parts of scavenging through huge donation stores.
(Wildfox sweater from Buffalo Exchange in NYC for $14)
Even at more upscale places like these it is quintessential to try on anything even remotely close to your size or style because there is always the opportunity to repurpose. I can’t even count the number of pieces I’ve bought just because I needed to be the owner of those size 7 vintage corduroy nike sneakers even though I’m a size 9 and I convinced myself I could survive a day of toe crunching just to flaunt that unique piece.
(Buffalo Exchange $18 dollars now Lyles shoes because don’t fit me)
That’s not to say they impulse buys are not always successful though, especially when you put enough time into a DIY reworking of something really, really special. Taking a size 14 skirt and cutting off a section of fabric to resew and cut button holes so it fits perfectly? It can be done. Not to mention the number of times I’ve woken up full of angst for a new outfit to fit my mood so I haphazardly amputate on something like a pair of corduroy flower pants to make high waisted shorts.
There will always be those items that do not survive their impulsive deconstruction)and either get worn and rejected or left to die with the rest of loose cloth and sewing supplies that didn’t survive the process. The game of thrifting is that you will inevitably end up owning something you thought you loved, like the maxi skirt with blue china patterns that match your aunt’s dishes exactly or the tweed men’s trousers you just HAD to have at the time. The beautiful thing about even these items is that they too can find their purpose again somewhere besides a landfill. If you wait long enough you can always resell these items to the same place or get some other store to buy it thinking they can rid it of the smell, or even better donate your junk to make someone else's treasure. Opening up trunks of flannels in huge antique malls to find a jumble of threadbare flannels, picking up photographs of strangers from the early 1900s in flea markets for 60 cents, or getting collectable pins from the drawer of antique desks hidden in the back of a goodwill gives me a rush like no other.
I love the ambiguity that comes with these items, the gratification of feeling like I am carrying on someone else’s story, that the dress I repurposed to wear for prom was at some point being worn by someone else on spring day in the park, its threads worn with a secret narrative. I cherish being a part of a story that serves more than an aesthetic or superficial purpose in consumerism, and instead contribute to a circuit that achieves environmental and personal value and is oddly thrilling to be a part of.