OMG…Who doesn’t love talking about clothes? Not only does that outfit make you look super cute (yes, we’re talking to you, friend!) your clothes affect your feelings, how your job performance,the environment, and other working women! Clothes are another opportunity to make choices about how we live in and show up in the world. We can use clothes to be more of our authentic selve – to make a political statement – or to live out our deepest values around the environment and worker rights.
Today on Crina and Kirsten Get to Work our hosts discuss – drum roll please – clothes! What do clothes have to do with ease, meaning and joy?! Turns out it is a lot – and what we may think is a light subject in fact brings us deep into creating meaning in our lives.
The idea for this show came from a listener who sent us a Wall Street Journal article on the pandemic closet purge. It turns out many of us are cleaning our closets because our experiences during this pandemic have changed what we wear and how we see clothing. What to Wear The Pandemic Closet Purge is Under Way, Anne Marie Chaker. Chaker says that nearly seventy-five percent of respondents in a November 2021 survey by consumer research firm CivicScience of more than 4,200 U.S. adults said their closets contain many things they will never wear again. Only 15% said they want to leave their closets as-is. The pandemic closet purge isn’t merely an exercise in swapping formal clothes for casual ones. This closet purge is more of a desire to simplify during complicated, uncertain times.
As Crina says, what she thought would be a light show on clothes and women and work, went deep – into meaning. Women have always been using clothes to fit in, express themselves and at times make political statements.
We pick clothes because they make us feel good in some way – maybe for comfort, maybe for fun, maybe to express something, or maybe to fit in, feel a part of the group – or set us apart from the group.
Women wore green, white and violet jewelry during the suffrage movement to signal GWV – or Get, Women the Vote. A century later, in the 1980s, women wore “feminized” suits with big shoulder pads and bow ties to mimic male professional dress style in an attempt to access the social and economic capital that lay on the other side of the glass ceiling. If the Clothes Fit: A Feminist Takes on Fashion – Ms. Magazine (msmagazine.com)
What we wear affects our mental state. So called “power clothes” can make us better negotiators; wearing a uniform can make us more conscious of our job duties, and, in fact, just looking at a lab coat can make us more accurate and precise.
What we wear affects the environment. We have drastically increased the amount of clothing produced – and much of it is synthetic fabrics that do not biodegrade.
What we wear also affects the people who produce it – who are mostly women. An estimated 60 million workers power the global garment industry and the fashion industry is not known for providing women worker friendly wages or benefits. In fact, it is just the opposite.
So when we consider how clothes affect our feelings, how clothes affect our job performance, and the impact of our choices on the environment and other working women, what is a woman to do? Simply put, clothes are another opportunity to make choices about how we live in and show up in the world. We can use clothes to be more of our authentic selve – to make a political statement – or to live out our deepest values around the environment and worker rights.