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Fashion as a Political Statement

When you think about power, the first image that pops into people's minds usually isn't fashion. But what we wear, who we buy from, and the way we present ourselves...

When you think about power, the first image that pops into people's minds usually isn't fashion. But what we wear, who we buy from, and the way we present ourselves to the world directly correlates to change and even revolution.

Fashion and Politics are Deeply Connected

Hillary Clinton's infamous pants suits, Michelle Obama's heavy criticism for wearing shorts on a trip to the Grand Canyon in 2009, and Melania Trump found guilty of donning Gucci sunglasses while visiting Arlington National Cemetery all became hot button issues in the political world. Political branding for both men and women is a critical part of entering the political arena and can even make or break a candidate.

Ultimately, fashion and politics are far more integrated than people realize, and political strategists specifically architect looks that fit the vision and platform of their candidates. Even though style plays a significant political role, it can be used to send strong political messages within informal spaces as well. Many designers, such as Christian Siriano and Kerby Jean-Raymond, use fashion statements with social messages to spread awareness about current issues. Lady Gaga made waves when she bypassed typical gown expectations, wore an oversized suit to the Elle Women in Hollywood celebration in 2018, and spoke about her road to freedom and independence from the rampant chauvinist oppression in Hollywood. 

The great hair debate has also been raging and is assuming a more prominent role in fashion. Hair length and styles are assumed to be predictors of liberalism, conservatism, gender, and are even used as a standard of professionalism and cleanliness. In the 1920s, the short wavy flapper hairstyles were bold statements that signaled changing times. The modern blunt bob, shaved hairstyles for women, and the trending man bun are changing our minds about hair, gender norms, and everything in-between.

How You Can Use Fashion to Make a Political Statement?

As consumers, the most critical mindset that can change the world drastically is honoring cause over mere convenience. Grab n' go products are easy, but as consumers, we have the power to protect our futures, and simply choosing where we spend our money can support minority-owned businesses, promote sustainability in the fashion industry, and make a political impact. A few fundamental points to recognize are:

1. Where we spend our money makes a difference.

The consumer's purchasing power is a specific change agent that can turn the tide in creating momentum on environmental, social, and political planes. Start by thinking about your day and what you use, and when you need to refill one of your necessities, do some research and look for sustainable and organic products. Seeking out minority-owned businesses and thrifting is also a great way to make an impact. 

2. You can make a political statement through what you wear.

Making political fashion statements can take many forms. From bold printed statements on sustainable clothing to gender-neutral apparel, and hairstyles can change people's perspectives.

3. Pay attention to sourcing and impact.

Many fashion products require an inordinate amount of resources to manufacture, such as crude oil and water, and produce colossal amounts of waste. Look for clothing made out of organic cotton materials like recycled polyester, nylon, or tri-blends. Also, make sure that the clothing you buy comes from factories committed to sustainable manufacturing.

The power of political change is in our hands. Fashion is one of the most influential daily artforms that many of us know and love, and we can use it to create lasting political change. 


Special thanks to our guest writer!

Megan Glenn | w: | e: | @MeganJGlenn

"I believe in telling a story, not just finding information. I believe in finding a story, even among the most mundane."

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