The Fashion Double Standard: If clothes make the man, what about the woman?

Foreward by: peepshowtoys

“A policeman in plain clothes is a man; in his uniform he is ten. Clothes and title are the most potent thing, the most formidable influence, in the earth. They move the human race to willing and spontaneous respect for the judge, the general, the admiral, the bishop, the ambassador, the frivolous earl, the idiot duke, the sultan, the king, the emperor. No great title is efficient without clothes to support it.”


Mark Twain’s quote highlights to undeniable power of clothing and fashion.  It has been said that “clothes make the man.”  But what about the woman?  

A few months ago, a Swiss human rights organization, Terre Des Femmes, released a viral ad campaign, “Don’t measure a woman’s worth through her clothes.”  You can check out the campaign here - we highly recommend it. This campaign sought to raise awareness about how society labels and judges women based on clothing choices.  

When Rayne, a guest blogger, approached us independently with an idea to pen a piece that explores how our society imposes double standards on women’s fashion, we thought it would be a great fit for our blog.  Rayne asks us to pause and to think about how much power we give to clothing, and consider how society uses fashion choices to disempower women. 

The Fashion Double Standard: If clothes make the man, what about the woman?  

Kim Kardashian-West wears sheer maternity outfits. It’s, like, her thing. She’s even been known to step out in a sheer top without a bra. Her sexy maternity wardrobe has her the talk of the fashion world. But they’re not bashing her for it. They’re praising her. They’re calling it “bold,” and “stunning,” and “brave.”

Miley Cyrus likes pasties. Pasties are her thing. Nobody was surprised when she showed up on Kimmel in pasties and a rainbow cape—except maybe Kimmel. The surprise was probably the full-length skirt. Her ensemble covered much more skin than Kim K’s sheer maternity outfits. But they called Miley a druggie whore, anyway, and attacked her in every venue that gave them the ability. 

Jennifer Lopez showed up to the Globes in a full-length gown with a flowing cape that showed no cleavage and very little thigh. They lamented the fact that they couldn't see her boobies.  Like, that’s the actual word someone used. “Where are the boobies?”

Susan Sarandon wore a low-cut white jacket over a black bra to the SAG awards, and the internet exploded with sexist and ageist commentary on the award-winning actor’s audacity and cleavage. Even Piers Morgan had a go ... dick move, brah.  

Her audacity. Because her worth took a nosedive when she turned 30, right? And here she is, at the ripe old age of 69, daring to expose her cleavage in public. Who the fuck does she think she is? 

Celebrity women go to awards shows because they’ve been nominated for outstanding performance in their chosen career, but no one asks them about that. They ask “Who are you wearing?” as if the sum of their worth is in the designer they put on before they left the house. 

A girl gets raped, and the very first question she’s asked is, “What were you wearing?” Sometimes, she’s asked that by someone she looks up to. The message she receives is the outfit she decided to put on that day is the reason she was raped. Ultimately, it’s her fault she was hurt.

In all of my 35 years, I’ve owned a handful of sexy outfits, but the vast majority of my wardrobe is…well, let’s be honest. The vast majority of my wardrobe is unsexy pajamas. When I’m not wearing pajamas, I’m wearing loose fitting jeans and tops. I like to be comfortable, and I’m not comfortable with all my bits and bobs pushed up, squeezed in, and on display. 

People tell me all the time that I should “have more respect for myself” and “dress like a lady,” as if the very fact that I am female means I should dress for the male gaze. 

But then, I’d be “asking to be raped.”

“Don’t judge a book by its cover,” unless the “book” is a woman, and the “cover” is her clothing. In that case, it’s fair game. 

Society has a whole lot to say about women’s clothing. Every Dick and Jane around the globe thinks they have the right to dictate what other people can and should wear. And everyone has a different reason. 

And I can’t help but daydream about a world in which women can wear whatever the fuck they want without having to worry about people using their appearance as an excuse to treat them badly.

Rayne Millaray, Guest Blogger



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