The Power of Pants: A brief history

How an outfit can change your future

%28Left+to+right+top%3A+Junior+Anya+Jones%2C+senior+Parker+Crotty%2C+junior+Hannah+Weaver%2C+senior+Marlowe+Barrington.+Bottom%3A+Junior+Dhani+Srinivasan%2C+junior+Jessica+Anderson%29+It%E2%80%99s+unfair+to+label+the+female+body+as+unprofessional%2C+just+like+how+it%E2%80%99s+unfair+to+say+that+all+clothes+that+are+acceptable+in+the+workplace+are+prudeish+and+boring.
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The Power of Pants: A brief history

(Left to right top: Junior Anya Jones, senior Parker Crotty, junior Hannah Weaver, senior Marlowe Barrington. Bottom: Junior Dhani Srinivasan, junior Jessica Anderson) It’s unfair to label the female body as unprofessional, just like how it’s unfair to say that all clothes that are acceptable in the workplace are prudeish and boring.

(Left to right top: Junior Anya Jones, senior Parker Crotty, junior Hannah Weaver, senior Marlowe Barrington. Bottom: Junior Dhani Srinivasan, junior Jessica Anderson) It’s unfair to label the female body as unprofessional, just like how it’s unfair to say that all clothes that are acceptable in the workplace are prudeish and boring.

Alec Gabbert

(Left to right top: Junior Anya Jones, senior Parker Crotty, junior Hannah Weaver, senior Marlowe Barrington. Bottom: Junior Dhani Srinivasan, junior Jessica Anderson) It’s unfair to label the female body as unprofessional, just like how it’s unfair to say that all clothes that are acceptable in the workplace are prudeish and boring.

Alec Gabbert

Alec Gabbert

(Left to right top: Junior Anya Jones, senior Parker Crotty, junior Hannah Weaver, senior Marlowe Barrington. Bottom: Junior Dhani Srinivasan, junior Jessica Anderson) It’s unfair to label the female body as unprofessional, just like how it’s unfair to say that all clothes that are acceptable in the workplace are prudeish and boring.

Lila Gill, Staff Reporter

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Since the time of suffragettes, when voting rights were still a debate for women in the U.S., pants have been a form of rebellion. Elizabeth Smith Miller, an early American feminist, used to sport Turkish pantaloons and knee length skirts–something that would have been absolutely atrocious in the mid 1800s. So atrocious, in fact, that there are multiple accounts of women being arrested for wearing pants (even after women’s pants were made popular in America by French designer Paul Poiret).

We’ve come a long way since the mid 1800s, however, pants are still considered a power move when women wear them. In a business setting, if you see two women, one wearing a skirt and blouse and the other wearing pants and a blazer, there are probably vast differences in the assumptions you make about who they are, what their career is and how much money they make.

This is because we associate masculine things, like pants, with power, and feminine things, like skirts, with impotence. And to this day fashion impacts things like respect and success in the workplace.

Beyond just pants, women are told to hide their feminine features (cleavage, legs, curves), lower their voices, and avoid being ladylike. The “ditzy secretary” trope exists because of this very criticism. You’ve seen her, on TV and in movies.

She wears low cut blouses and has pretty blonde hair. All she does is paint her nails and make personal calls. Men have always ruled the work force and even though women have come a long way in the working world, they’re still forced to conform to masculine ideals.

It’s unfair to label the female body as unprofessional, just like how it’s unfair to say that all clothes that are acceptable in the workplace are prudeish and boring. Fashion is to be used for expressive purposes, and personal- if you have a 9-5 job with a strict dress code, you’ll rarely get to communicate that creativity and personality.

Not only is it unfair but it is downright sexist. Women have this idea drilled into their heads that to gain respect they have to cover up; it’s interconnected with the idea that young girls shouldn’t wear short skirts and tank tops because it’ll “distract” males in their lives— school dress codes have often been challenged because of these claims.

Women are always told how to dress to please men, and all of this is an example of how we as a society give into rape culture. When she wears a high-necked blouse and slacks, she’s too conservative. If she wears a low cut top and a skirt she’s a slut. It’s impossible to win.

I’m not saying women, and people in general, should start wearing bikinis and thigh high boots to work at their corporate jobs. I just think the rules should loosen up around what is socially acceptable to wear. People of all different body types are all forced to fit into this stencil of what is “professional.”

Don’t get me wrong; I love pants. I’m so grateful for all the women who came before me, risking arrest and humiliation for daring to rebel. I just believe people should have a choice in whether or not that’s what they want to wear. If you want a high paying business-related job, you shouldn’t have to choose between a pantsuit and a pencil skirt.

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