Feminist Fashion

1When we talk about feminism, or, more accurately, the antithesis of feminism, we often bring up the ’50s housewife and/or pinup girl fashion. We envision a woman who wore beautiful dresses and heels every day while milling around the house, dusting, sweeping, and baking a picture-perfect Betty Crocker devil’s food cake for the sock hop. She was subservient to her husband, devoted to her children, and never seen in anything less than her best. She didn’t “work,” though her housework never ended, and her opinions were largely dismissed with a pat on the head.

Thankfully, American society has come a rather long way from that time, now that 47 percent of our workforce is made up by women. And we’d venture to say we’re all pretty happy about that. We’ve rejected most of the things that were treasured in that era, including segregation, blatantly sexist and racist laws (sort of), smoking indoors and Wonder Bread. But one thing we haven’t quite given up is the fashion.

2There’s actually been a rather significant trend of rockabilly fashion, more commonly known as pinup fashion, which evokes a sexier, more exaggerated version of the ’50s housewife aesthetic: Including but not limited to candy-colored dresses, high heels, perfectly coiffed hair, and precisely applied makeup.

And let’s be real: It’s gorgeous. But for those of us who are proud feminists, it can be hard to rationalize loving a fashion style that came from a time when women were oppressed even more so than they are today. There’s no way pinup fashion could be feminist, right? Actually, that’s not entirely true. Here are seven reasons why embracing our inner ‘50’s housewife fashionista is actually empowering for women:

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1. It reclaims femininity in an empowering way.

There’s an antiquated notion that power and self-determination are purely masculine traits. This belief is probably singlehandedly responsible for the rise of the pantsuit (sorry Hillz) in the ’70s and ’80s when women started going into the workforce en masse. The idea was that, in order to be respected, women needed to emulate men’s fashion choices to blend in as much as possible.

We know now, of course, that feminine doesn’t mean weak. A woman can dominate the workplace in a tutu if she so desires — and those ’50s housewives were strong and capable as any man, they just weren’t aware there was another way to show it other than being a good homemaker, wife, and mother. Pinup fashion embraces the gorgeous aesthetic of the era while also propelling it into the 21st century. Its main message: Femininity was and will always be powerful.

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2. It embraces a wide range of body types.

Back in the day, when photos of pinup girls were hung up in army barracks and adorned mud flaps, the women were largely white and largely thin. These days, women of all sizes have been not only invited but encouraged to participate. There’s no height or weight requirement to be a pinup girl. Also, tattoos are welcome (if not encouraged), whereas in most modeling communities they are shunned. So inked ladies needn’t shy away!

The coolest part of this, in my opinion, is that a good amount of famous pinup models do tours around the world, inviting women to come meet them, get their hair done, be dressed in pinup-style clothing, and do a photo shoot with them. Up until her recent explosion to fame, Tess Holliday regularly did this with her fans (and hopefully still will).

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3. The pinup fashion community supports itself.

Fashion can be a vicious industry, especially when models and designers are encouraged to compete with one another for who looks the best. Because feminism is (or at least should be) about women lifting each other up, the feminist attributes of any fashion trend or subculture could be considered dubious when one considers the intense emphasis on competition.

While the pinup community is in no way exempt from this (it is on the Internet, after all), women in the pinup community support each other publicly and frequently help each other out by doing clothing swaps, giveaways, offering makeup and hair lessons on YouTube, and writing tutorials.

74. There isn’t an age limit.

Because pinup fashion is inherently an older style, you can be any age and still rock the look. In fact, the older you are, the likelier it is you or your family has some authentic ’50s fashion items laying around.

8 - Copy5. Quirky is good.

Even though it’s a fashion niche, pinup fashion allows women to express their individual style in tons of ways, whether it’s color combinations, hairstyles, tattoos, or themes in their clothing.

9 - Copy6. Strength is encouraged.

Pinup girls aren’t wallflowers. They’re ballsy, strong and the epitome of in-your-face attitude. They might get strange looks in public but they feel absolutely fabulous and couldn’t care less!

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7. It’s becoming increasingly diverse.

The modern day pinup fashion community still has a bit of a racial diversity problem (that’s another article for another time), but every day there are more and more badass women of color joining the fun. Hopefully they feel welcome, so we’ll see even more inclusivity across the board. Plus, how gorgeous is Angelique Noire in this photo!? More please!

Source: The Bustle

Gender Bender

Gender-neutral styles have cycled in-and-out of high-end fashion for decades, but in recent years androgyny has gone mainstream.  In London, popular clothing chain Selfridges recently launched “Agender,” a gender-neutral collection that spans three floors of its flagship Oxford Street store. Here in Toronto, there are a handful of brick-and-mortar and online shops that carry unisex clothing and accessories, including Parloque, Muttonhead and our friends, Future is the Future.

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Future is the Future is a Toronto secondhand and small-run for all genders

What these trendy retailers have in common are loyal consumers who embrace a gender-free way of dressing.  And according to one Toronto fashion insider, that customer base will likely get bigger.  “Gender-neutral fashions will be something that is more enduring,” said Marilyn McNeil-Morin, chair of fashion studies at Toronto’s George Brown College.  She believes the gender-bending style, with non-body conscious cuts designed to complement anybody’s figure, will be more than just a fleeting fascination. She predicts it will become a lasting style.

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Thecorner.com’s “No Gender” campaign.

“I think we’re going to see a lot of it, and it’s going to last because it’s very wearable and practical,” adding that the terms gender-neutral, unisex and androgyny are interchangeable.  “When it was done before, it was done specifically for women,” she explained, referring to the androgynous look where traditional male clothing was cut to fit a woman’s curves. “But what we we’re seeing now is the same piece can be worn by men or women.”

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A model wears the Dundas boot from Blanc de Noir‘s gender-neutral footwear collection

That crossover, however, may pose a challenge to some designers, who may have relied on traditional gender-based sizing in the past to construct their pieces. But McNeil-Morin says this hurdle provides an opportunity for creativity.  “I’ve seen some designers approach it using more flowing kinds of pieces where the fit is less of an issue, so it can be worn by a man or a woman,” she said.

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Tilda Swinton – The Gentlewoman

“We think the wearer should decide the gender of the piece, rather than the piece itself,” says designer Miah Mills. “It’s the person who makes the person, not the clothing or what they wear.”

What are your thoughts on unisex one-size-fits all clothing?  It’s Let Rebena know in the comment box below!

Source: CTV, Future is the Future, Blac De Noir

Feminist Inspiration

FemAbsolutely loving the badass Ollie Henderson in Nasty Gal’s new lookbook.  The new lookbook is SO amazing – it mostly features shoes with awesome girl boss quotes.  Oh, and if you aren’t following Ollie Henderson, do yourself a favor and google this gal.  She is a model, artist, musician, and activist and is a pretty damn impressive young lady.  

Shady Lady

SimpleWhether you’re looking to protect your skin or to elevate your jeans-and-tee combo, hats are destined to be your go-to accessory this summer.