Alexandra N-B '20
Throughout history, women's fashion has been intertwined with the roles held by females in society. Beginning in the 1980s, how and why has the connection between women’s fashion and their place in the workforce been intertwined? Is fashion a form of empowerment for women?
In the 1980s, women in the workforce faced gender inequalities, which eventually led to the transformation of their stereotypical job attire. Although to the eye, women's workwear has undergone a drastic change since the 1980s, at times, it is evident that a link exists between women's positions and the clothing they wear in the workplace. My video showcases a compilation of photographs telling a story of the relationships between women, their attire, and their professions. Using my photography and video practice, I share with you the images that I captured, which shed light on the narrative of women's clothing in the workforce today. This story is told through a plethora of garments. By using research, my perspective, and today's working women, the narrative remains truthful to today's realities. Capturing the work through photography leaves interpretations open to the viewer while they are experiencing a multisensory presentation.
This video begins with archived photographs from the 1980s workplace, as this period reflected a great emphasis on women's attire and the limited roles available to them. It gives context to the topic and lays a framework for my transition to the most current women's work attire. I include photographs of garments, quotes, and actual photoshoots in the workplace. The music and interviews accompanying the images provide contextual, enhanced information for the subject. Specific lyrics sung by women were placed at certain points throughout the video to provide the audience with a simultaneously visual and auditory experience. Through interview recordings, the viewer is presented with first-hand knowledge and experiences from a leading woman in today's workforce. Quotes from both men and women are included, showing a true representation of our society. I included women from various fields to speak for a more diverse group. Examining a variety of contemporary fashions in the workplace helps to address my question through and beyond the 1980s. The various styles demonstrate the evolution of change, while still portraying the connection that exists for women between fashion, empowerment, and self-expression. During the 1980s, an evolutionary shift occurred from feminine, form-fitting clothing to more masculine, less body-conscious attire. This connected to women's desire to be less objectified and instead seen for their true abilities. Photos from today's society show the change from traditional feminine clothing to a less gender-driven style, conveying the strength of the movement that began many decades ago. This project engages my research question because it explores the important connection of today's fashion in the workplace, the effect on positions, and the relationship with male colleagues. Although in the 1980s women's restrictions seemed more gender-driven, photoshoots of today's attire emphasize the connection between job position and apparel. The clothing of today is not solely restrictive. This multimedia presentation sheds light on the reality of the present, where there is a wide range of women's fashion in the workforce.