Fashion And Feminism Can Finally Coexist

In the 70s, disco and feminism were two separate movements. The image of disco with its hyped up glam and sexuality was almost the opposite of the typical feminist — sure, maybe neither wore bras, but one wore glitter and one stopped shaving, one was glamorized and one was intellectual. The personae and the beliefs were non-negotiable.

When I was a teenager in the late 2000s, I rejected calling myself a feminist. Playing with style was my thing, and it felt too limiting to be one — I still associated the word with a type of dress, a certain condescension, and ultimately a rejection of femininity and sexuality. What if I wanted to wear ripped tights with thigh-high fringe boots? Or glitter eyeliner with a bejeweled dress? Maybe one day I’d wear baggy jeans with no makeup, but the next I’d be in heels.

Phelan dress | Nasty Gal shoes | Vintage jewelry

Did that disqualify me from being a feminist? The term was a boundary I didn’t want to force upon myself. I loved being female, and I mistakenly thought I’d have to reject that side of me in order to be true to the title. In hindsight, it was entirely backwards. But to me, fashion was indirectly correlated to political and moral values.

Where I was mistaken was that being a feminist means embracing your womanhood in any way you please — but I wasn’t entirely wrong either — fashion and feminism are, in fact, inextricably tied, and this election has only made that more clear; women’s magazines with no history of political endorsements have said “I’m With Her!” and the recent Spring 2017 collections that showed had heavy themes of female empowerment — most explicitly seen in Dior’s graphic T-shirts reading “We Should All Be Feminists.”

Saint Laurent robe | Giamba jumpsuit | Lanvin shoes | Vintage jewelry

For me, fashion came before feminism. I was picking out my own outfits — pairing a sparkly pink Barbie top with a leopard skirt — when I was three years old. Feminism came when I was seventeen. I’d graduated from high school and moved from LA to Boston and started college. It was my first day, second class. I wore a vintage floral dress with lavender Doc Martens and found a seat next to a girl wearing the same shoes in red. The professor walked in, and I don’t even remember if it was a man or a woman. The first thing they said was “raise your hand if you’re a feminist.” But before any of us could move, they added “every single one of you should be raising your hand.”

In 2016, it’s been made increasingly clear that a woman can be seen as equally powerful in a red Ralph Lauren suit, a chainmail Versace gown à la Michelle Obama, or a leotard and nude tights like Beyonce. The glam of the disco era has merged with the power and intellect of its feminist contemporaries, creating a new type of woman who can dress how they like and still achieve their goals — as if Cher and Gloria Steinem morphed into a single being. And that’s pretty damn cool.

Home Cooked Karma pants | Fendi shoes

Ralph Lauren pantsuit | Nasty Gal mesh top | Vintage jewelry

Vintage top and jewelry

Home Cooked Karma pants | Fendi shoes | Kaleos glasses | Vintage jewelry

Photographer: Bukunmi Grace
Model: Rhianna Jones
Stylist: Haile Lidow
Makeup Artist: Ivey Haber
Prop Stylist: Haile Lidow
Assistant: Kevin Starynski
Writer: Haile Lidow

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