Who Wears the Pants?

I voted absentee, therefore I had no reason to stand in line to express my political freedom with my female counterparts. However, I gladly threw on my maroon, navy, and white striped tapered Harper pants to watch the fate of the country unfold.

Scrolling through my social media outlets the day of the election I saw women across the country sporting their mother’s and even grandmother’s pantsuits as they went to the polls to stand with her.

Who would have imagined that one slogan and one article of clothing would have such an extreme impact on the future of American politics and women’s fashion?

After the election I called my mother and asked her if she owned any pantsuits. She dug in the “long forgotten and close to giving away” section of her closet to provide pictures of this mythical fashion trend.

Image courtesy of elle

Growing up in a somewhat matriarchal household, my opinions and personal style choices were heavily influenced by my mother. I remember watching my mother get dressed for work in the morning while she brewed coffee, let the dogs out, made lunches, saved the world, and properly applied mascara. Out of all the outfits she created in under an hour, I can’t say I ever saw her wear a pantsuit outside of the house.

The question then arose, if my mother could accomplish all these great things without the power of a two-piece polyester suit, why did all these women need it to vote for her?

Many made the argument that the pantsuit is a sign of women’s liberation and women’s empowerment in society. In today’s society most women are heads of their households, minority women are the most educated women, and women are changing the demographics and salaries of jobs. These are only some of the numerous advances women have made in society.

If pantsuits were truly a sign of liberation and empowerment we would expect to see women in all positions of society flaunting the “holy grail” of the business formal dress code. But they aren’t.

Trying to find women between the ages of 18 and 25 that voluntarily wore pantsuits to class or on campus in general, was difficult. I had a better chance of becoming president than finding someone who owned the “power suit”.

In my search to find a single soul that dared to wear a pantsuit after the election I found myself hunting down the building manager of Arnold Hall, Aldine Armstead.

“I prefer dresses. I wore a pantsuit because it was something different,” she said. Aside from her neutral political views Aldine felt that her clothing choice was simply a choice. Not a choice of empowerment or a political statement, but something different.

Image courtesy Stephanie Murray 

Something different is what we all need. I personally believe women who wore their ancestor’s pantsuits to the polls were doing that. Subconsciously these women were embodying the change they wish to see in the world through an outfit.

A classmate approached me after watching me interview Aldine and said, “I dig the pantsuit.”

I dig the pantsuit too. I dig overalls and maxi dresses. Truth be told, I dig anything with natural fibers and lots of pockets. What I dig more than anything is having the freedom to live in a society where women are at the forefront of politics, technology, medicine, art, etc. and are seen as far more than what they wear.