Gender Differences In Clothing

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When disccusing the gender identity and fashion relation subject, it is neccessary to explore the it‘s association with the movement of feminism.The wave of feminism in 1960‘s and 1970‘s made a significant impact towards female attire and gave a new more practical option for women dress. However it can also be said that the fashion itself made an impact towards feminism as it was used as a tool to demonstrate the change in stereotypical gender representations and explore the subject in more depth.

Even though it could be said that clothing are equaly important to both man and women as a protection and neccesity, the term fashion has been typically more related to women than man. It can be claimed that 19th century has formed an image for
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As Bernard (2002) informs ‘fashion and clothing which reproduce existing gender identities and positions are to be refused or escaped from’.
Clothing items became symbols ant tool in the debate of gender identity. Thus, a skirt or dress could be seen as a symbol of passive female while trousers could symbolise the active male. Trousers provided men the freedom of movement and activity and was considered as an especially practical garment. However trousers also referred to masculinity and power. An expression in West cultures ‘she wears the trousers’ does not refer to visual differences. It can be explained metaphorically the ‘wearer of the trousers’ is dominant and in control. Therefore it can be claimed that women, in order to obtain a higher status in the society used trousers as a symbol of a more powerful character. Women in Western culture started wearing trousers as visible garments in the middle of nineteenth century. It was Amelia Bloomer who was the first to introduce a knee length skirt worn over a pair of Turkish trousers in public. The costume gained the name of Bloomer (Barnard 2002). Bloomers however did not replicate the exact trousers worn by man; neither was it used as a tool
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However it can be claimed that femininity experienced a comeback to women’s attire in a form of as ultra-femininity. Feminine style was exaggerated and reached the term girly. The style referred as ‘kinderwhore’ (See Apendix, figure?) during the end of twentieth century was endorsed by singers such as Courtney Love, Kat Bjelland. Short dresses decorated with frills and bows, satin sashes, however kept short, accompanied with dark make up (Arnold 1999). The emergence of girly reference in fashion provokes different views towards the ultra-feminine. ‘Kinderwhore’ reflected to female look similarly as a doll, which could lead to female objectifying. Women as doll is being discussed by feminist thinkers like Walkers and Beauvoir. Walker(1998) cites Beauvoir ‘The little girl cuddles her doll and dresses her up as she dreams of being cuddled and dressed up herself; inversely, she thinks of herself as a marvellous doll‘. A doll could also refer to the male gaze, which was disccused in chapter one. In this case a female is dressing up to make an impression, to be looked and for at by presumably male audience
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