In one of those typical-of-our-age instances of rabbit-hole internet’ing, I stumbled across a reference to The Rational Dress Society</em>, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind ever since…
The society was a reaction to the absolutely not-practical dressing standards imposed on women of the time (the late 1800s in Britain). Their self-described purpose was this:
The Rational Dress Society protests against the introduction of any fashion in dress that either deforms the figure, impedes the movements of the body, or in any way tends to injure the health. It protests against the wearing of tightly-fitting corsets; of high-heeled shoes; of heavily-weighted skirts, as rendering healthy exercise almost impossible; and of all tie down cloaks or other garments impeding on the movements of the arms. It protests against crinolines or crinolettes of any kind as ugly and deforming….[It] requires all to be dressed healthily, comfortably, and beautifully, to seek what conduces to birth, comfort and beauty in our dress as a duty to ourselves and each other.
Well, guess what? I feel like I always have been a member of a society much like this, since I haven’t been interested in either shoes or clothing that I consider to be uncomfortable, and I always strive to dress in duty to who I am inside. For some of us, sure, that includes things that others of us might consider to be “rendering healthy exercise almost impossible,” like high heels, and I’m not interested in putting other folks down because they enjoy a fashion that is not my cup of tea. So, I’m going to take this Rational Dress Society thing one step further, rename it the Empowering Dress Society, and change the purpose up:
The Empowering Dress Society protests against the introduction of any fashion in dress that imposes outside pressure or influence on self-expression through clothing. It protests against the wearing of anything that makes a person feel less-than, and celebrates the wearing of anything that makes a person feel more-than or equal-to. The Rational Dress Society is all about positive self-expression, regardless of the so-called beauty standards that society at large attempts to impose on humanity. It requires, above all else, that clothing is an expression of self, and that people should seek to achieve self-comfort and what each person considers to be beauty in our dress as a duty to ourselves and each other.
What do you think about that? For me, the Empowering Dress Society means my me-made dresses, pretty much every day. In cold weather, I pair them with leggings or jeans and a cropped t-shirt or comfy sweatshirt. In warm weather, I wear shorts underneath. This swimming season, it means a bikini on my twice-birth-giving-and-softer-than-it-once-was frame. It means that clogs are my version of “high heels,” and flip-flops and comfy sandals are my daily footwear in warm weather, and clogs and wool shoes and sometimes rainboots are my daily footwear in cold weather. It means hand-knits, both for warmth and for fashion, and it means more lipstick than I’ve ever worn. It also means sometimes-sparkly-eyeshadow. It means non-uniform dresses every once in a while, but only those with pockets, because, in my version of the Rational Dress Society, pockets are completely and totally non-negotiable.
Following are some photos of my entries into my version of the Empowering Dress Society, throughout the seasons.