March is Women’s History Month. It is a time to reflect upon how the rights and lifestyle of women have progressed. It is also the time to honour brave individuals that made such transitions possible. Fashion has also been an important part of the history of women. This is because it has denoted the place that women have held in society.
There are several distinctions between what women wore a century ago and what they wear now. Check out some of the modern trends on www.axparis.com for an example. When women held smaller roles in society their clothes were lavish, and certainly not very practical. The styles have changed, however, as women began to work, began to take positions of power. Women’s fashion is strongly reminiscent of the freedom and rights that they have won over the years.
The Suffragette Movement
As the Victorian era drew to a close, the roles of women in society began to rapidly change. In the late 1800s and the early 1900s, women began to demand better wages, more access to work, and in general, greater rights. This was known as the suffragette movement. It is not considered very often, but fashion did have a major impact on the movement. For one, the ladies of the movement made it a point to dress extremely well, especially when they were picketing. This was to give the appearance of civility and femininity. This certainly worked as it drew more people to their cause. It also helped change how women dressed. For instance, dresses began to stop at ankle-length, no longer sweeping the ground. This was so that women could move around easier. Their dresses also became less elaborate to help them to work with greater efficiency.
With the men having to leave their jobs to go fight in World War I and World War II, women had to take over these duties. This necessitated a change in how women dressed. This new found freedom meant that women’s clothing had to be much more sensible than it was before. This meant that hemlines were considerably shorter than they ever had been. The rationing of cotton and clothing also meant that clothes were more minimalistic and also diminished in length. The rising hemlines actually marked a period of freedom for women. It was a symbol of their newfound liberty and was a step towards them gaining more rights and independence.
There were few people who influenced the fashion trends of the 1920s more than Coco Chanel. Ms. Chanel’s intentions reached far beyond those of looking good. Rather, she strived to free women from their fashion constraints. This is why she created fashion looks that discarded the traditionally constrictive corset. She also began and encouraged the androgynous trend. This involved women dressing much more like men. All of this helped women stake their place in a man’s world.
There is a reason why fashion is still quite so important to women. It is more than appearance. It is a statement of who you are and what you stand for. Much like the women of history, women today can still speak volumes with their fashion choices.