Fashion vs Feminism


Photo by Reza Vaziri

MP Louise Mensch has recently been attacked by the press for claiming to be a feminist. Surely not a bad thing I hear you cry, but it wasn’t the feminist label that earned her criticism- rather the fact that she was fashionably dressed when she claimed it. Mensch’s comments inspired an article by Janet Street Porter entitled ‘You can’t be a clothes horse AND a feminist’. Does this line of thinking reinforce the notion that you can’t be fashionable and an intellectual?

Due to my part time job as a make-up sales assistant, I encounter this kind of casual snobbery often. Every time a customer enquires as to my line of study and gives a slow puzzled look upon my reply of ‘law’, their furrowed brow is a give away to thoughts of how knowledge of lipsticks and legislation surely can’t cohabit in one mind.  Similarly, I worry that my many Facebook updates regarding my undying love of  well crafted stiletto heels may portray me as somewhat of an airhead to my university colleagues.  It’s somewhat laughable that in our enlightened day and age we still think that doctors and professors should consign themselves to a uniform of tweed blazers and that models and fashionistas should have an IQ smaller than their Choo size.

Long has been the British tradition that we should want people to notice what is in our heads rather than what is on our backs, but the two shouldn’t have to be mutually exclusive. Bring back ‘power dressing’ where one’s attire is a message that you are a force to be reckoned with both personally and intellectually. Look to role models such as the ‘Iron Lady’ herself, as Ms Thatcher once famously stated that her beloved strings of pearls and chic handbags were ‘non-negotiable’ in her ascent to political power. Similarly, Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel, famous world over for pioneering fashions, first began to design in an attempt to liberate women from the oppressive ideals of the day.

Modern day feminism should be empowering women to be who they want to be, think what they want to think and to dress however they like.  From now on I will remember not to dismiss that outfit as too ‘try hard’ for uni, I will slick on my brightest lippie and hope that my opinions on crimes against humanity will be just as respected as my views upon crimes against fashion. After all, maybe the feminists of yester-year burned their bras not just for the cause, but because they were soooo not this season’s colour…

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