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This is Revolutionary Dress: an educational space devoted to the politics & history of dress.
We’re looking at the ways dress has been used as a strategic tool of resistance and revolution, across countries, cultures, and communities from the past and today. Dress is an important and often overlooked cultural artifact, a window into so many aspects of human life and behavior. Studying what people wore can help us understand their daily experiences, beliefs, values, social structures and so much more. We can use what we’ve learned about past people and movements to inform our choices today, and better recognize how our dress can be one tool amongst many in our collective, ongoing fight toward liberation.
Rev/Dress offers interactive, educational zines, teacher lesson plans and more, free and available to everyone.
“One may not have access to the press or governmental structures, but you have control over how you dress.”
Not that kind of dress!
Dress "establishes individual identity within a cultural context, emphasizing common social characteristics: age and gender, marital status, and occupation" (Eicher).
Dress includes more than just clothing: it covers accessories like shoes, bags, purses, and jewelry; body adornments such as hair, makeup, tattoos, and piercings; and even scents from oils and perfumes.
Clothing most often refers simply to the textile-based garments that cover the body (ex: t-shirts, trousers, jackets, dresses, hijabs, socks, etc). Dress differs from clothing in that dress tends to cover a much broader spectrum of stuff which, in unison, contributes to an individual’s unique appearance and gives clues as to that person's identity, beliefs, etc.
Our modern understanding of fashion implies a cycle of “introduction, mass acceptance and obsolescence” (Eicher), meaning it is inextricably linked to the trend cycle. The time-sensitivity of fashion means it often excludes garments that are inherently timeless and do not change with trends, such as cultural and religious dress. Also, the term "fashion" tends to carry a series of value-judgements, both positive and negative, that influence our perception and don’t fully capture the vast array of possibilities that getting dressed allows for (not everything we wear is fashion) (Eicher).
Rev Dress Map
The power of dress takes shape in movements all over the globe, spanning hundreds of years and countless causes. Click the pins below to learn more and stay tuned! We're working on making zines for all these examples. In the mean time, let us know what we're missing: tell us about other social and political movements that utilized dress by filling out our contact form here.
“If fashion resists power, it is also a compelling form of it.”
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