Reclaiming Femininity Through Fashion
By Rachel Albright
Lady Gaga’s oversized, billowing Marc Jacobs suit stole the show at this year’s Women in Hollywood event, and for good reason. Gaga, who was being honored at the ceremony, shared a heartfelt and powerful moment with the audience when she said, “in this suit, I felt like me today.”
In recent years, women have begun to embrace a new way of dressing themselves — in styles that make them feel sexy, powerful, and put together, per their own definition of what those things look and feel like. Forget what mainstream designers designate as feminine: women are moving away from the mini skirt and heels and reclaiming their identities on their own terms.
Leandra Cohen of blog-turned-brand Man Repeller is a classic example of this shift. Leandra began blogging about her love for clothes in 2010, boldly proclaiming that women’s fashion was best when appreciated by other women, rather than intended for male consumption. After a friend suggested that maybe her wacky personal style was the reason she was single, Man Repeller was born. Leandra has since turned her own definition of fashion into a media empire and inspired a new generation of women and girls who embrace their own identities and dress in what makes them feel good.
During Paris Fashion Week, Vogue Ukraine Fashion Director Julie Pelipas became a street style sensation after wearing a now oft-copied — though unflattering under traditional definitions — pair of oversized and ill-fitted paper bag pants. It was her unwavering confidence — that specific kind of sex appeal that comes from simply feeling great in what you’re wearing — that attracted the world to her look, not conventionally sexy attire. This wasn’t a rogue moment either: Pelipas has made a name for herself in the fashion community for wearing oversized power suits (like this pink beauty) and other statement styles that showcase her as a powerful, decisive, yet still feminine, fashion icon, businesswoman, and mother.
At the same time, the fashion world looked on with awe and confusion as Hedi Slimane showed his first collection for Celine. Celine, previously a fashion house celebrated for creating clothing that women felt powerful, put together and sexy in — and by their own terms — became just the opposite, as barely-there pieces dripping in sequins strutted down the runway to almost universally bad reviews.
Today, from local boutiques to big department stores, women’s sections boast oversized blazers, wide-leg pants, high neck shirts, and increased diversity in shapes, gender representation, and race. Women’s fashion was once defined for us as sleek and skimpy, but today we get to decide for ourselves how we want to look and feel. So, don’t be surprised when the women in your life start dressing like David Byrne.