The seamless loincloths of prehistoric times illustrate people’s need to cover up their genitals with the resources they had at that time. Centuries later, the loincloth evolved into a skirt, which restricted women’s mobility during a time period where their participation in society was very limited. And then, in the 1850s, a movement that asked for liberation from corsets and clothing that restricted women’s bodies changed the game completely to make women’s pants a socially acceptable piece.
The evolution of our clothes through history is fascinating because it illustrates visually what we believe and believed in, and how our perceptions and thoughts have been evolving. Political fashion is a space to speak about all the areas in which Politics and Fashion interact because by getting to know your clothes better, you will make smarter choices when it comes to clothing selection and shopping.
So let’s start explaining how politics and fashion interact in these intriguing categories, each of them equally important to leverage the full potential of Political Fashion.
Sustainability + Fashion
Much has been said about the importance of being aware of the environmental impact of our actions and our clothes. But we need to connect the theory with actual actions that each person can do. Sustainability is, in many ways, a lifestyle that we can aim for to live respectfully with our environment and the living beings around us.
In politics, this is a controversial topic because there’s a lot of money at stake from fossil fuel industries funding the campaigns of candidates that will do everything they can to stay away from sustainable policies. There’s a constant debate between the idea of transitioning to sustainable practices, acknowledging the potential of clean energy, and the resistance to keep practices that have been used for many decades, summing up to environmental damage that is becoming irreversible.
In fashion, many companies are in a “transition period,” making some effort to adopt sustainable practices but struggling to maintain low prices that consumers are used to because of the cheap production process fast fashion got us used to for over two decades. But sustainable fashion is more than a green logo and a window display with plants. There are many elements that make fashion truly sustainable. Ethical fashion, for instance, involves the way clothes are made, who made them, how much these people are being paid, and what are their working conditions like. Without ethical fashion, it is very unlikely we can have sustainable fashion.
So, what happens in politics around sustainability affects sustainable fashion directly because laws, practices, and investments in clean energy highly influence the speed and cost at which sustainable fashion can be produced and distributed.
As a consumer and informed reader, you deserve to know what is happening in the fashion industry and how companies are trying (or not trying whatsoever) to make clothing truly sustainable.
Fashion + Gender
From corsets and full skirts to tailored jackets and ties, fashion illustrates our perception of genders throughout time. In many ways, fashion portrayed evolution, like in the 1920s when the hem of the skirt allowed women to walk without dragging the skirt on the floor, representing liberation.
By the end of the 20th century, pop culture icons like Freddie Mercury, Madonna, and Elton John, challenged the gender expectations established by society through fashion. These kinds of fashion statements were retaken years later by Billy Porter, Miley Cyrus, and Lady Gaga, using their own style to push fashion forward and blend the gender boundaries that we’ve been following for a long time.
In the 21st century, fashion is becoming gender-inclusive by breaking many traditional ideas of what genders should look like within a very restrictive binary system.
Genderless fashion questions why certain areas of fashion haven’t been explored yet, and how we can make fashion a safe space for all genders to express their authentic selves.
We see this kind of debate in school uniforms, where there is a clear division between girls and boys, and the traditional ideas of what uniforms were meant to represent are questioned and encouraged to evolve and be more inclusive to the full spectrum of identities.
On a not-so-controversial level, younger generations are breaking gender-segregated ideas that humans have believed for a very long time. Men are wearing pink, and women are wearing suits. Genderless fashion is bigger than sexual orientations and gender identities. It is the idea that clothing is a form of expression, and we must let go of the idea of categorizing clothes in a restrictive manner that is not beneficial at all.
There is still a long way to go because fashion can move forward with inclusivity. And throughout this process, many people around the world are finding a way to express themselves visually through clothing without feeling as if they don’t belong or as if there’s something wrong with them.
Fashion + Politics
In Joe Biden’s Inauguration Ceremony, many political figures like Michelle Obama, Kamala Harris, and Hillary Clinton wore purple. Blue being the color of Democrats and Red representing Republicans, combined make purple. This was an encouragement to find unity in a moment of division and political tension in the United States. That is the power of fashion in politics; it can become a symbol to communicate a message to the audience and initiate conversations about a certain topic.
Now, every single aspect of a political figure communicates something about them. Everything about their clothes, the color, the fit, and the styling, makes us build a perception of a certain person. Even if we are not aware of it, the visual presentation of someone makes us like them or dislike them within a matter of seconds.
When a political figure delivers a speech, we receive a message from their words, but we interpret their body language and their nonverbal communication as well, which of course, includes their clothing.
In Political Fashion, we’ll talk about political figures from around the world and how they are using fashion to communicate messages, and how that plays to their advantage or disadvantage. From Kamala Harris’s sneakers in a restless campaign to Angela Merkel’s signature look throughout the years, and Justin Trudeau looking impeccable with fitted shirts and rolled-up sleeves, everything about our clothes communicates something and influences people’s perception. So we’ll dig deep into fashion lessons, with some politicians as our fashion figure examples of what to do (and what not to do).
And the great thing is that you don’t have to be in front of a crowd or have a career that involves media appearances to use fashion as a communication tool. Every human interaction, as small or insignificant as it may seem, is a great opportunity to use fashion as a versatile, playful, and seductive communication tool.
Everyone creates perceptions and has a reputation, even a person who doesn’t leave their house and doesn’t socialize with people. This person’s reputation would be of an isolated and introverted person. It is the combination of our background, our personality, our professional experience, and the way we express ourselves and interact with other people that create a perception of who we are. This perception becomes pivotal when doing business, looking for jobs, seeking relationships, and interacting with people. Here, in Political Fashion, we’ll help you leverage your full potential to explore this area at its fullest and make meaningful connections with the world around you in a personal and professional way.
Know Your Clothes
When we see red, we associate it with danger, passion, energy, and fire. When we think of blue, we think of water, serenity, cleanness, and sky. Every design element has an interpretation of who we are. That is the reason why authority figures wear uniforms or suits instead of shorts or athletic sportswear. Fashion is a very elaborated construction of elements. We’ll analyze each of them individually to fully understand how to curate a spectacular look based on who you are and what you want to communicate with your clothes.
The importance of the width and print of a tie, the fabric of your shirt, and the kind of shoes you choose are all important for the final result.
Also, we’ll explore how fashion has been representative of social movements and political moments, like the rainbow flag representing the LGBTQ+ community, and how these colors have been worn in protests asking for equal rights and justice. The flag itself has evolved, incorporating black and brown to acknowledge people of color amid racial justice mainstream attention and the colors of the trans community flag, which have been particularly relevant in the path to fighting for trans rights.
Another example is the body positivity movement in fashion, which acknowledges there is weight discrimination when you only see a certain type of body in a workplace, and you don’t see the store carrying plus sizes. There is also a very misleading representation of the human body in mass media and how it “should look,” creating a series of catastrophic problems like eating disorders, depression, anxiety, or even suicidal thoughts.
Dress to Impress
Has it ever happened to you that you see a garment that you really like, but when you try it on, it looks off somehow? Not all clothes are flattering to all human bodies; that is part of our uniqueness. This is why it’s critical to understand our body and what kind of shapes, colors, and prints would align better with it.
Every year, we see designers introducing fashion collections with iterations of silhouettes, prints, and textures. And although all of this is very exciting to watch, the real challenge is to understand what kind of clothes would look best on you, and how you can style them.
When we analyze Politics + Fashion, we analyze each piece of the look (the jewelry, the accessories, the shirt, the shoes). Here, in Dress to Impress, we’ll talk about each design element that altogether makes a garment (the fabric, the color, the prints, the texture, the silhouette, the proportion, and so much more!).
So welcome to Political Fashion! This is a space in which you’ll get to develop a deeper and more respectful relationship with your clothes to leverage their full potential. Fashion is more than a vanity choice. It is a medium to communicate who you are; it is a human-size business card that your professional circle interacts with regularly. Through fashion choices, we can create a great first impression or an odd misunderstanding about who we are. Let’s start taking fashion seriously and loving and respecting the clothes around us.