Don't get us wrong: the 4th of July is definitely all about pool parties, BBQs, and hanging with the family. Going through our inventory for some fun Independence Day-related pieces, though, got us thinking about the value of the freedom of self-expression through clothing, and how it has evolved over the last 50+ years.
(American Flag Dress)
Fashion is one of the most crucial elements of our culture: it's a reflection of the social climate and an indicator of economic and political conditions. More often than not, fashion is associated purely with materialistic values: the truth of the matter is that fashion is the purest forms of self-expression we have!
The 1960s and 1970s were an especially transformative era for fashion. As we're well aware, hemlines were on the rise, necklines were on the decline, and women were taking ownership of their bodies--and their identity--through clothing.
Rudi Gernreich's "monokini" was made famous in the 1960s for blatantly flaunting a woman's breasts for the first time in mainstream fashion. While many were shocked and outraged, the designer's creation added fuel to the fire of non-conformist, progressive expression. Fashion is anti-establishment while simultaneously upholding, altering, and tweaking comfortable social mores.
The 1970s and 80s also saw the popularization of political and patriotic clothing. Polyester novelty prints featuring peace signs, convention signage, and faces of politicians themselves became an effective way to show one's support of--or opposition to--a cause.
One of our favorite pieces of political memorabilia is the 1970s "Jane Fonda for President" t-shirt. The actress' controversial protest against the Vietnam War resonated across the globe during a volatile time in history and is still fodder for debate today (and, it simply made for a great t-shirt!).
Finally, classic Americana fashion has been one of the most steadfast and consistent elements of our sartorial landscape. Cowboys are perhaps the most identifiable American cultural icon, and their clothing is often the most inherently patriotic: for example, red, white, and blue suede jackets! To boot, Americana motifs have made an impression on the world of mainstream fashion with the likes of Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, and Tory Burch upholding and reinventing American style every season.