The Power of Fashion

There are days like today, Gentle Reader, cold, wet, rainy days, in which I long with all of my physical and emotional being, to be Back in Britain.

I love Britain, am an Anglophile, a Celtophile (if that’s even a word!), a Scotophile (see before re: word), and I even love the weather.  I am a woman who longs for cold, rainy days.  The splash of water on the ground, the twilighted backgrounds which make every morning look like evening (the poem in which this phrase appears will be in print soon!).

But thinking of England makes me think of the three times I visited England, all for research.  And as my research concerns fashion, I begin to think about what it means to wear clothing that empowers you.

Take boots, for example.  Today, I am wearing my gorgeous black boots with their zippers and buckles, their just-below-the-knee perfect height, their supple leather, their straps and heels.  These are my power boots.  Nothing can defeat me when I wear my power boots.  I am booted woman; hear me stomp.

But this is my personal sense of worth.  I feel differently when I wear them because psychologically, I associate a woman in knee-high boots with a form of power.  She seems in control in a way I don’t always feel; therefore, when I wear knee-high boots, I am in control.  Of course, that began a train of thought that asks,

what other fashions have true power?

The crinoline was incredibly freeing for women in the 1850s.  A hoop skirt, something our 21st-century eyes see as restrictive and confining, in fact freed women from the constraints of multiple petticoats. It gave them freedom of movement, a supple sway that was quelle scandale, no?

We often think of the corset as restrictive, as well, but it wasn’t.  It was necessary support.  Women need support.  It is a necessary part of anatomy.  But our images of these women are instead trapped in cages of their own choosing and men’s own making.

I have written extensively on these topics, both as a blogger here and as an academic here, and hope to have more articles and blogs forthcoming about women’s fashion in the nineteenth century.  But whatever we all decide, here is the truth:

Fashion is Power.

and,

Women gain Power through Fashion.

Let us contemplate these ideas throughout the day, regardless of your current clime.  I for one will enjoy the beautiful cold rain of the Midwest.

Like what you’ve read?  Visit my website: The Life and Times of the Postmodern Bluestocking.

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