Women’s role in society has been continually evolving throughout the years. It is more than just a tool for expressing one’s personal style; it is now a tool to express a woman's strength and impact society. Discover how fashion can inspire and drive societal change and how women use this to their advantage.
Fashion as a Cultural Expression
Fashion is more than just what you wear. It transcends language and cultural expression. For this reason, fashion is a powerful tool that women employ to express their values, beliefs, and identities. This form of expression can impact individuals and societies. The impact of fashion is well-documented throughout history, as it has become intertwined with the evolution of fashion and personal narratives for those directly (or indirectly) involved in those innovations.
It's no wonder specific eras also reflect various cultural beliefs and identities, such as the counterculture movement of the 1960s. Over time, fashion has changed along with the shared values of society, and this isn’t incidental. Women have played a critical role in shaping those views and using fashion as a platform to express those views that would influence others (women or not).
Iconic Fashion Moments Symbolizing Women’s Strength
Throughout history, several women were bold enough to challenge the norm and speak their minds. Most importantly, they used fashion to fight for equitable opportunities and to show how strong women can be.
1. Coco Chanel’s Little Black Dress
Fashion designer Coco Chanel pioneered the iconic little black dress in the 1920s. It revolutionized women's fashion, and the creation of the LBD was an iconic and minimalist design choice. The LBD represented more than just fashion; it was a departure from the ornate styles that women of higher social status would have chosen in the 1920s. It showcased elegance, versatility, and empowerment. This designer encouraged women to step out of the norm in the most self-assured way.
2. Serena Williams’ Innovative Tennis Attire
Serena Williams is among the best female tennis players of all time. But aside from her tennis skills, she is also known for her bold and innovative tennis attire. Her fashion choices exemplify Williams' commitment to breaking stereotypes and empowering women to embrace their bodies and style, especially women in sports. She not only breaks outdated dress codes in tennis but also celebrates women's confidence and female athleticism.
3. Katharine Hepburn’s Trousers
In the 20th century, women were traditionally expected to wear dresses. So when Katharine Hepburn wore trousers, it was unconventional and defiant. Her fashion choice inspired countless women, even many centuries after, to challenge societal expectations and choose a practical and comfortable style.
Historical Examples of Women Using Fashion to Show and Celebrate Their Strength
Historically, women used fashion and clothing to inspire self-expression and social change. It also reflects women's social status and roles within society.
One of the best examples is the fashion choice for women during the suffragette period (late 19th to early 20th century). During this time, women fought for the right to vote. They wore distinctive attires featuring high-neck blouses, long skirts, and sashes. The women's attire symbolized the suffragette movement and showed unity toward a common cause.
The 1920s is another historical example of how women used fashion to celebrate their strength. Women in this era wore dresses with shorter hemlines to challenge the traditional gender roles. It was the women's rebellious response to the traditional gender roles in society and signaled the start of women’s quest to fight for freedom and independence.
What Are Women Doing in Fashion to Inspire & Change Society?
In recent years, the fashion industry has experienced a significant shift in that women use their style choices to promote female empowerment. Many brands and designers have followed suit and are using their platform to inspire positive change.
For example, certain brands, like Aerie, insist on using unretouched images of their models for their ad campaigns. The brand wants to celebrate the diverse body types and squash society's unrealistic beauty standards. Their ethos is embracing natural beauty, regardless of shape or size.
Dior is another designer who is making an impact on society through fashion. It has started an initiative to create the "We Are Women" t-shirt collection in partnership with a non-profit organization. All the proceeds from this collaboration will go to support women's education and empowerment programs. Therefore, their campaign isn’t just about inspiring change but taking concrete steps to help underprivileged women achieve social change.
As modern fashion trends continue evolving, expect new movements and trends to emerge that will challenge existing norms and celebrate women's role in shaping not only the fashion industry but society as a whole.