Often condemned as a form of oppression, fashion could and did allow women to express modern gender identities and promote feminist ideas. Einav Rabinovitch-Fox examines how clothes empowered women, and particularly women barred from positions of influence due to race or class. Moving from 1890s shirtwaists through the miniskirts and unisex styles of the 1970s, Rabinovitch-Fox shows how the rise of mass media culture made fashion a vehicle for women to assert claims over their bodies, femininity, and social roles. She also highlights how trends in women’s sartorial practices expressed ideas of independence and equality. As women employed new clothing styles, they expanded feminist activism beyond formal organizations and movements and reclaimed fashion as a realm of pleasure, power, and feminist consciousness.
A fascinating account of clothing as an everyday feminist practice, Dressed for Freedom brings fashion into discussions of American feminism during the long twentieth century.
About the Author
Einav Rabinovitch-Fox teaches history at Case Western Reserve University.
"A fascinating and accessible examination of fashion and feminism throughout history." --Ms. Magazine
"Thought-provoking. . . . Recommended." --Choice
"Rabinovitch-Fox provides an engaging and accessible history of American fashion and its relationship to feminism across the twentieth-century. . . . A highly readable and pacey book that will deservedly find a wider readership outside the academy. " --Gender and History
"An essential book on the politics of fashion." --Library Journal
"In her elegantly constructed, thought-provoking book, Einav Rabinovitch-Fox skillfully disproves popular misconceptions and greatly enriches existing scholarship about feminism and fashion in the long twentieth-century. Beginning in the 1890s and ending in the 1970s, Dressed for Freedom documents the myriad, complex ways in which diverse groups of women used fashion as a means of self-empowerment, expression of feminist identity." --Journal of American Culture
"Dressed for Freedom is an innovative exploration of the ever-shifting and complex relationship between feminists and fashion. Einav Rabinovitch-Fox shows how women as activists, designers, and consumers translated feminist ideas into everyday practices and turned shirtwaists and sportswear into the material through which women asserted identities and claimed rights to freedom of movement."--Maxine Leeds Craig, author of Sorry I Don't Dance: Why Men Refuse to Move
"Fashion and feminism may seem antithetical, but Einav Rabinovitch-Fox cogently argues that they are closely intertwined. Her stimulating book highlights how Gibson girls, flappers, women designers, and even 1960s feminists saw modern clothes as an integral part of women’s freedom."--Kathy Peiss, author of Hope in a Jar: The Making of America's Beauty Culture
"Well-organized and accessible, Dressed for Freedom fills in long-standing gaps in social movement, fashion, and feminist histories for all levels of interested readers." --Coordinating Council for Women in History