Here Is Why Feminist Expression Through Clothing Is Important

One of the most relevant movements of all time has gained strength and popularity in the past years, which is only the result of women and men not willing to cope with inequality anymore. Yes, we’re talking about feminismRegrettably, the topic is surrounded by controversy and taboo, which has turned the word feminist into just another f-word for some.

Have you ever wondered why it is so common for girls and women to be ashamed of admitting they support feminism? Having a desire for social, political and economic equality should not be a cause for hiding. Therefore, a great way to destigmatize the word and the movement is to normalize it through all sorts of artistic expression, like clothing. Get the word out there with a feminist shirt, it really is ok!

A Brief History Of Feminism

Most people divide the feminist movement into 3 periods (or waves) that begun arising in the 19th century. Learn about them down below.

First-Wave Feminism
First-wave feminism was born in the context of an industrial and liberal society, where women were concerned about accessing political participation and equal opportunity. It was until 1918 that women gained the right to vote.
The Second Wave
This wave, emerged between the 1960’s and 1970’s, is defined by the radical feminism of the women’s liberation movement, and the protagonist voices of women of color and women the world over. The liberation movement is associated with protests in pageants, where advocates defended what women think or do is more important than how they look. Other concerns included the rights of oppressed groups, such as the working classes, and homosexuals.
The Third Feminist Wave
The current feminist wave is a more confident one thanks to what first and second wave feminists fought for. Feminists nowadays see themselves as strong, capable, and important social agents. But there’s still a lot to fight for.

Feminism In Fashion

Rebellious fashion, art, music, and literature were not born from scratch. They have all been happening as ignitors but also as results of the movement. Let’s take a look at what feminism has historically meant for fashion, hover over (or tap) the cards to learn about each period.

1800spainting Feminist Tshirts
In the summer of 1851, “the bloomer costume” (loose pants and a short skirt) sparked hysteria when it hit the headlines of newspapers all across America. Mary Williams described it in the Water-Cure Journal as a comfortable and healthy alternative to long, heavy skirts. Other important activists of the time supported this look, such as Elizabeth Smith Miller, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Amelia Bloomer, who was the first American woman to own and operate a newspaper for women. The bloomer costume, associated with Amelia’s name, was an integral part of the fight for equality and an attempt at change, although it was respectable not to wear it and focus on other aspects of the fight.
Suffragatte Feminist Shirt Image
Suffragettes would identify themselves with white, green and purple outside of protests and marches. Ribbons, badges, and all sorts of accessories with these colors were a staple for the movement. White represented purity, green was a symbol of hope, and purple was for dignity.
1920 Feminist Shirts
The bob haircut made its way on and off screen. It represented growth, modernity, and a free spirit. Although it was a small action that helped the emancipation, it freaked people out. Some jobs required women to cover their bobbed hair until it grew out. But that didn’t stop them from their passage to freedom. Flappers, or middle-upper class feminists, were especially concerned with social equality, thus fought to change the image of women in society. With their bobbed hair, androgynous clothing, and going out with girlfriends, they opened up a space that was before denied to them.
Miniskirt Feminist Tshirts
In the 1950’s, Claire McCardell, an iconic designer in American fashion, offered women a sense of freedom. Her wrap dresses were thought for living in action. She preferred casual fabrics, elastics, and belts to nip in waists over corsetry. The 60’s were all about the miniskirt. Miniskirts stated cosmopolitanism, independence and liberation. In the US, Black models and African-inspired clothing reflected the pride of the civil-rights movement. During the 70’s, wrap dresses made a comeback in the professional and personal lives of women. Finally, in the 80’s, the power suit became a controversial medium to enter male-dominated spaces. The suit's straight cuts and padded shoulders made it popular.
Chanel Feminist Tshirts
The new women in the workforce and the public sphere, after World War I, were the inspiration for Coco Chanel’s two-piece suit. Even though the outfit was not of her invention, she did reinvent the look to fit women of the time. Elegance, dynamism, independence, and strength were some of the values her designs represented.
90s Feminist Tshirts
Girl’s only punk bands, women depicted as powerful witches in film and television, female hip-hop singers jumping onto scene, and spaghetti straps were some of the highlights seen during the 90’s. Feminism was everywhere on the media, it was a time of empowerment. Currently, feminists demand harassment and assault to stop or at least be accounted for. They fight for women to be paid as much as their male counterparts. They believe in free, safe and legal family planning choices. They stand against sexism and misogyny, and wish to repair a fractured view of the movement that is often undermined by a mean, crass discourse.

Right now is a fantastic moment to stand up side to side with other women. If you think it is important to spread the message, go ahead and try your own designs with this feminist t-shirt template by Placeit. Making a girl power shirt is super simple, just follow these steps:

Write in your message, you can change the font and color to your liking. Keep in mind some concepts: sorority, equality, riot, girl power.

✓ Choose an icon that goes with the feel of your idea. There are plenty to choose from!

✓ Choose a background color, a texture, or select the transparency checkbox to let your design look more natural when printed on a shirt.

Download your image, you’re ready to print shirts!

Constituting Change

Perhaps now you have a broader vision of how fashion and feminism have been connected for years. Clothing isn’t just a reflection of an era, but a part of it. The freedom to choose how to dress and express yourself through clothing is what this relation is all about, feeling comfortable in your own skin. Encouraging the use of graphic feminist tees and other fashion statement pieces is a necessary step towards union, representation, and empathy.

"I never thought making a shirt could be so easy. Thanks, Placeit. "
5/5

Sources:

Aggarwal-Schifellite, M. (2016). When American Feminists Were Pilloried for Daring to Wear Bloomers. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2whWZVp

Filipovic, J. (2018). What Victory Will Look Like for Feminists in 2018. Retrieved from https://ti.me/2HRPju2

Komar, M. (2016). How Women Have Used Fashion as a Feministy Tool Throughout History. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2fBAhgY

Rothman, L. (2017). Hoe the Fashions of the 1960’s Reflected Social Change. Retrieved from https://ti.me/2jnD8dU

Sorensen A. & Krolokke C. (2005). Gender Communication Theories & Analyses. Ch. 1. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2I6XRAG


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