Does modest dressing oppress or liberate women?

Does modest dressing oppress or liberate women?

Posted by Rose on 6th Dec 2017

Clothing style tips: Finding fashion that meets your own modesty standards

There's a  controversy about modest fashion. It exists between those who think it is for oppressed women who are often seen as backward religious adherents and others who consider modest dressing reflective of independent women who dress for themselves rather than for men.

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According to The New York Times’s chief fashion critic, Vanessa Friedman,  modest dressing is a defining trend of the 2010s. Bustiers bowed to blouses; strapless dresses to high collars and long sleeves. Still today, red carpet fashionistas wearing long sleeves, high necks and long skirts regularly make the top 10 best-dressed lists at glitzy events.

Does modest dressing oppress or liberate women?

Ruth Negga, named among the best dressed at the Oscars.

It's the end of the naked look and may initially have been influenced by religiously observant women who value modest clothing. In 2016, we heard of 15 French towns who banned burkinis, full body swimsuits that show the face, from their beaches. French courts ruled against these bans finding that wearing burkinis posed no threat to society. (But the burkini is still controversial in France.)

Does modest dressing oppress or liberate women?

As a person subject to severe sunburn, I would consider wearing a burkini without the cap. In fact sometimes while snorkeling in the tropics, I look like I'm wearing a burkini because I usually add a long sleeve shirt and leggings to my cute swimsuit that's modest but allows too much skin to be exposed to the damaging rays of the equatorial sun.

But modest dressing actually goes beyond simple inclusivity and has become a trend. While this trend may have begun in real life, designers such as Phoebe Philo of  Celine are featuring modest clothing on the runway.

In many ways, the aesthetic is similar to that of men's fashions in its confidence, elegance and sophistication.

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What does the trend toward modest dressing tell us about our evolving cultural attitudes?

Many women are no longer focused on dressing to please the male gaze. Self expression, comfort and practicality have become paramount. Women are empowered to celebrate their brains and skills rather than just their sexuality.

And it's political. Who can deny that women are asserting their rights more forcefully and vocally right now? 

How do you feel about modest dressing? (I'm thinking pretty positive since Sympatico is all about comfortable elegance.) How do you manage to express yourself as an attractive sexual being who has a lot more than that going on? Or is expressing your sexuality even a consideration? Join the conversation below.

Sympatico style in comfortable, elegant hemp/Tencel