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You know that saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover?” It turns out our brains are hardwired to do the opposite. We’re talking about confirmation bias – that sneaky tendency to stick with our first impressions. It’s just how our brains work.

How does this relate to clothing and social change? Clothing is like a megaphone for our values and beliefs. When people use fashion to go against the grain, it makes society sit up and take notice.

Imagine this: A bunch of people dead set on shaking things up start wearing unconventional clothes that challenge the status quo. Back in the day, folks rocked bloomers, dashikis, and even safety pins. These were more than just fashion choices; they were statements saying,

“We’re here, and we’re changing things!”

Fast forwarding to recent times, you’ll see how black dresses, streetwear, and loungewear became symbols of resistance and change. These styles weren’t just about looking good; they were saying something important. They screamed for social progress.

Let’s look at history and see how clothing has shaped society.

Bloomers and Breaking Norms

Imagine living in the late 1800s when women’s fashion was all about corsets, petticoats, and heavy gowns. Then along came the “bloomers.” These wide-legged, loose pants symbolized freedom from the constricting norms of the time. Women who wore them were saying,

“We want equality, and we won’t be held back by our outfits!”

It was a powerful statement, both in style and substance.

Wearing bloomers was a rebellion against the oppressive norms that limited women’s freedom and mobility. By adopting this unconventional attire, women were challenging the status quo and demanding social change. It was a bold move that made a lasting impact on gender equality.

Civil Rights, Dignity and Dashikis

Fast forward to the 1960s, the heart of the Civil Rights Movement. African Americans were fighting for their rights and dignity, and they used clothing to make a statement. By dressing in sharp suits and elegant dresses, they showed the world that they deserved respect. Later, traditional African clothing, like dashikis, became symbols of cultural pride and resistance. 

The dashiki was more than a garment; it was an emblem of cultural pride. It challenged the prevailing racial biases of the time and played a crucial role in the Civil Rights Movement. The dashiki, along with other elements of African-inspired fashion, empowered individuals to assert their identity and demand equal treatment.

#MeToo & the Power of Black

In more recent times, we saw the #MeToo movement gaining momentum. Celebrities donned black dresses at awards ceremonies, sending a powerful message of solidarity. This fashion statement raised awareness about gender inequality and abuse and empowered survivors to speak out. The #MeToo movement’s use of fashion as a form of protest led to policy changes, increased accountability, and a greater focus on creating safe and inclusive spaces.

The black dress became a symbol of unity and a visual declaration against sexual harassment. By wearing black, individuals expressed their support for survivors and demanded an end to systemic abuse. 

Pandemic, Comfort & Consciousness

The Covid-19 pandemic changed the way we dress and shop. With physical stores closed or operating at limited capacity, online shopping took off.

We started prioritizing comfort and functionality. The era of “work from home” clothes had begun. The pandemic also shone a light on the dark side of the fashion industry, revealing exploitation and power imbalances. This led to calls for transparency and ethical practices, as people began to question the cost of fast fashion.

The pandemic changed our choices, emphasizing comfort and adaptability. It made us reevaluate our relationship with fashion and consider the ethics of our purchases. The crisis exposed the fashion industry’s practices and sparked a conversation about sustainability and workers’ rights.

Fashion is a mirror of society. It’s a tool that rebels and changemakers have used to push for progress and make the world a better place. The next time you pick an outfit from your wardrobe, remember that it’s not just clothing; it’s a statement, a message, and a force for change.

Kendra LaSalle

Author Kendra LaSalle

Kendra is a personal fashion stylist with a background in behavioral health. She specializes in helping entrepreneurial women stand out through style psychology.

More posts by Kendra LaSalle
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