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For whom do women dress?

Tereneh Idia gathers fashionable contributors to answer an important question

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Gladys Bentley by Bekezela Mguni
  • Gladys Bentley by Bekezela Mguni

For whom do women and femmes dress? It is an issue celebrated, debated, and legislated throughout history, with complex and, maybe to some, surprising answers. Welcome to my first Style Column, completed with the help of some fashionable contributors who answer the question.

“Not long after YouTube opened an outlet to many Asian and Asian-American women (not to mention Beyoncé became bigger than herself), I explored the idea of not following exclusive fashion trends and putting in extra effort to create a wardrobe full of confidence and tailored to my needs as a 25-year-old arts manager.

“While it is hard to avoid the saturation of fashion trends often proposed by people of a certain body type, I feel I owe it to myself to say no and find a solution that is best for my very short, curvy body. There are few women who come in my shape and size. I deserve a chance to explore every option that makes me feel fabulous and confident to do what I love.”

-Ally Tayag Ricarte
stage manager, aspiring curator
Twitter: @sonofally_

“I dress for the enjoyment of other women who use their style as a form of self-care, the ones that find pleasure in putting together a look. I dress for the young black girls who look up to me, and for the stylish women who I look up to. Most of all, I dress for me, but when I get affirmation from those groups, I know I’m really doing something right.”

-Imani Jahaan
co-founder of Imani Jahaan Vintage
Twitter: @Imanijahaan

“I believe that we dress for ourselves. As much as we are inherently seeking acceptance and validation, ultimately, we have to be happy with what we see in the mirror, and in that moment, we are focused less on others and more on the opinion of the person that’s being reflected. Even for those of us who dress for a night out, or a date, what matters most is what we see in ourselves, and our own confidence in that.”

-Tara Fay
boutique manager, artist, curator

“We dress for our damn selves, to express our personal identity. We dress to portray to the world the energy that we feel on any given day. We dress to walk out of the house confident in our own skin; and if someone doesn’t like it, then we don’t need that negative presence in our paths.”

-Liz Sterrett
writer, style-conscious mom
Twitter: @yeah_its_lizfrompgh

“I can’t speak for all women, but these days I absolutely dress to express creativity, I dress for action, and I dress to nurture my own sense of autonomy. I’d like to think everyone does this, but I won’t hold them to it.”

-Meryl Franzos
Writer, style blogger
Instagram: @theicecreamsocialistparty

“I dress for myself. I use clothes as self-care — this was not always the case, but it is now. Certain colors, textures, silhouettes, etc. help me through the day. Using clothes this way has helped me pare down to what I really adore and has curbed my shopping drastically. It’s interesting that I get more compliments now, and I think it’s because I have better style, as a result of this shift.”

-Lesley Ware
Author, fashion educator
Twitter: @CreativeCookie

Follow featured contributor Tereneh Idia on Twitter @Tereneh152xx



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