Trump vs. the Tailored Pantsuit
By: Sophie Penelope Hill
The recent transition of power in the United States has left a trail of broken-hearted Americans scrambling to make sense of the world around them. To cement the dark reign in stone, Donald Trump’s administration’s recent whirlwind of disappointing and discriminating executive orders shocked and shook the world, questioning our morality and empathy. Whilst the injustice is being felt by everyone, whether you consider yourself a Trump supporter or not, an angle we rarely consider to be an active oppressor is fashion.
Earlier this week, Trump announced that he wanted his female White House staff to “dress like women,” insinuating that he prefers his female staffers to opt for skirts and dresses, as opposed to pants. Though it will come as no surprise to hear sexist comments coming from Trump’s lips, it does confirm that this behaviour will continue into his presidency, not just used as a shock-value campaign strategy. Trump’s statements not only continue to define a one-dimensional view of a woman’s place in the workforce, but also establish a non-progressive attitude towards fashion itself. And for the record, nothing is chicer or more professional than a great tailored pantsuit.
This news is followed by Nordstrom’s decision to drop Ivanka Trump’s accessory and apparel line from the retail chain. Due to disappointing performance in the last quarter, around the time leading up to the inauguration, sales were to say the least: not impressive. The company’s decision, while supported by numerical facts of the business’s inadequate work, is rooted in the disapproval of Trump as a presidential candidate. Costumers stopped purchasing from the brand due to Ivanka’s relation to Trump, and that reaction is creating real differences. Instead of supporting a brand run by someone that goddess-among-us Chelsea Handler classified as a “puppet” for women, we need to shop at brands that embrace what being a modern woman is all about. For example, J. Crew, run by the powerful Jenna Lyons, who creates affordable and timeless looks for women of all lifestyles. Or the trendy online store Nastygal, which created fun Hilary Clinton themed merchandise and has been an advocate for women’s rights from the very beginning. Instead of buying items just to buy them, we, as strong and educated women, need to turn shopping into a political act.
Clothing is a tool that should be used to express one’s internal identity to the outside world. To tell someone how to dress is similar to telling someone how they should be as a human being. Trump’s request is playing into a lengthy and checkered past of men-in-power (there are obviously many amazing men who do not prescribe to this form of sexism, but this comment is speaking towards a more general on-going, overall problem) dictating the actions of women who maybe never felt safe or empowered enough to stand up for themselves. Though it seems like we have entered into a time-machine only going backwards, we have to all speak up when we see this type of injustice around us. Because we cannot solely rely on the people in power to have our backs, so instead we have to have the backs of each other. This White House dress code is not going to be the end of this kind of treatment, but opposed to the past, we have the power to actively oppose comments and rules like this. So let’s use that voice to not let ourselves fall back into the rhythms of the past, but to forge the kind of future that is better for all of us.