How the #MeToo movement influenced fashion

Male-led media has traditionally subverted even the most important statements about female dress for their own gains. The activism of 1970s feminists who protested for equal pay, maternity leave and reproductive rights were trivialised into the myth of ‘bra-burners’ (incidentally the original protestors didn’t even burn any bras, they just put some in a bin.)

“I wear tight clothing and high heel shoes… It doesn’t mean that I’m a prostitute.”

For far too long, women’s outfit choices have been stifled, dictated and dissected by men and their reactions. Any woman who goes out in anything vaguely revealing is “asking for it” – according to swathes of the male population. But since #MeTooexploded onto our consciousness in 2017 there was a slow realisation that En Vogue’s lyrics from 1992 were right all along:

In 2019, the catwalk, red carpet and high street stores have been swamped with lingerie-on-show styles and it’s the most obvious sign that the #MeToo message of empowerment is finally sinking in. Wearing your underwear out shouldn’t be a scary thought that leaves you vulnerable and open to attack. Think of the classic white t-shirt. This was originally an underwear item – for men – before it moved into everyday wear. But no one would dream of justifying assault on a man because he was wearing it in public, surely?

Instead of being a signifier of a woman in thrall to her man, or men in general, and melding her outfit choices to that of the sexiest common denominator, at last women have taken control of their bodies and body image (as it should always have been) and are celebrating all shapes and sizes without the fear that the pre-#MeToo male society might have impinged on them. And as #MeToo continues in importance, the Body Positive movement also plays a huge part in ‘allowing’ us to have bra straps on show, wear slips and putting our underwear on display. It’s your body and wearing what you like is the ultimate show of empowerment.

Of course, sometimes we plan to look devastatingly sexy – date night, revenge of the ex – and the lingerie trend is very helpful for that but most of the time we just feel like wearing a slip dress or bra top because it suits our style, our mood and where we are headed.

The ‘trend’ looks like being far from just a trend. The catwalk shows for Autumn 2019 showed dozens of sheer tops. At Saint Laurent, Valentino, Helmut Lang and Balmain the model’s breasts were completely bare save for a sliver of chiffon. This proliferation wouldn’t have been possible a few seasons ago, pre #MeToo. Let’s see if they make it onto the high street, let alone a night club near you, without a nice safe vest underneath. Whether you wear the trend or not, know that you can feel empowered and strong whatever you choose to wear.

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