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1/24/2017 7:28:00 AM

The Correlation between Fashion and Femmism in the 1960’s and its


Feminists have in the past used fashion to make political statements;

these movements have had such impacts that they became integrated
into our culture. A good example of such cases is the “trousers” for
women, if we look at America, which underwent a major gender role shift
during the World War II as women took over the majority of the
workforce at the home front. The function of clothing gained practicality,
just as it had in 1920’s with a somewhat similar gender shift with WWI.
Women however where reluctant with the demobilisation from “Men’s
work’ as the economy was blooming and this meant giving back some of
there previous earned freedom and equality.
The essence of Feminism can be summed up in different theoretical and
political traditions. However the main view is that femmism strives for
liberation of women from oppressive social practices and ideologies. Great
strives had been made in “The First Wave’ which was the movement of
the 19th century till the 1940’s where women fought successfully for
voting rights, and the right to own land. Now it was time for the “Second

A symbolic “Burn the bra” movement was born as women tried to escape
from the restrictions of clothing in an attempt to physically and socially
liberate themselves. This specific event took place in 1968 with the
American Miss competiton. Liberal Women from all over America came to
protest in New Jersey the “Parading of Women” arguing that women
where not “cattle” to be looked upon and that it was not how a woman
looked, to be her greatest asset. The feeling of being less inferior as
women could not measure up to the standards of the Miss America
Beauty. Due to Police supervision there was no actual bra burning, rather
women throwing bras, girdles and underwear in trash cans to protest

The feminist wave of the 1960’s was mainly led by two pioneers one of
which was Betty Friendan this Time period is also known as “The Second
Wave’. Betty Friendan an American writer and activist became inspired
after doing a conduct a survey about the lives of suburban housewives,
the conducting interviews and studies which came forth proved how
unhappy so many women where. The realisation of the study led to her
book, “The Female Mystique” in which she concludes that society in
advertisement shows a discerning image of either happy housewives or
unhappy careerists. Creating a hyperbole that women want nothing more
then a husband, children and a home. Silencing their inner voice saying
they actually wanted to achieve more. Creating a misleading believe to a
younger generation of men and women. Partially due to women ambitions
to become “perfect housewives’ the age of marriage was dropping as was
the percentage of women seeking education. Beauty product sales gained
huge momentum and even average dress sizes dropped by three to four
sizes since 1939 as women where eating a chalk called “Metrecal” to
statify this forced creation of femminity. Which was also fuelled by
organisations such as the Miss Peagants. Yet this publication of gross
disstatisfaction and restlessness, had a major impact on vocalizing these
unspoken thoughts and led to a rise of women trying to build a career and
the change of female clothing.

Gloria Steinem an activist and journalist, quite like Betty Friendan fought
for equal rights for women, but also equality in general published a
striking article called the “After Black Power, Women's Liberation” her
introduction of the article

“once upon a time—say, ten or even five years ago—a Liberated Woman was
somebody who had sex before marriage and a job afterward. Once upon the same
time, a Liberated Zone was any foreign place lucky enough to have an American
army in it. Both ideas seem antiquated now, and for pretty much the same reason:
Liberation isn't exposure to the American values of Mom-and-apple-pie anymore
(not even if Mom is allowed to work in an office and vote once in a while); it's the
escape from them.”

In her findings she writes that while a larger percentage of women where
entering the workforce, there was still no real equality. Legislations were passed
that protected the men in the workforce and the salary gap between men and
women was growing. Even though the percentage of working females was rising.
Luckily with designers such as Coco Channel and Yves Saint Laurent in
this era of revolution, change was coming. During the World War II there
was a scarcity of certain materials, this and the need for functionality led
to Coco Chanel’s collection of Flannel Blazers, long jersey sweaters and
straight linen skirts inspired by menswear. Due to her clothing she
became a feminist pioneer. However Yves Saint Laurent had made even
more impact as he was the first designer not who had designed trousers
for women but who got them into the public eye and fashion industry as
statement wear with his design “Le Smoking”. These androgynous styles
created to a certain extent an equality to mens and women ‘power suits’
and carved the way for equality on the workforce, which was also a strive
for women no longer just had to be housewives. These designs are still a
big part of clothing attire on the work floor to this day.

But while the 1960’s was a time with great success to a certain extent for
women rights and the birth of trousers as a fashion item, It also saw the
birth of the mini skirt. Post World War led to the baby boomers, a high
rise in childbirth and economic welfare. With some household were
women worked too, a more luxurious lifestyle was formed with also
younger generations creating a whole new market. Mary Quant a British
designer was one of the first who started playing with the hemline on the
upper thigh instead of the knee. This trend became quite big in London
and the big cities like New York but was met with outrage by men. Icons
such as Twiggy where the embodiment of this time, as it spoke to girls
who did not want to resemble their mothers. It also affected the garters
and stockings industry, as many “mini-skirts” where to short to wear
stockings women started opting for wearing tights. In the 1960’s there
was a rage of wearing vibrant colours with the mini skirt. While the Mini
skirt is no longer just for independent and revolutionary women, they
have since been integrated into our wardrobe’s. Women became more
“provocative” in the eyes of the less liberal groups.

Due to activists who fought for our equality we are now able to basically
wear what ever we want, yet in some parts of the world they still do not
enjoy this liberty.



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