Race in Vogue: Finding Myself in a Space of Exclusion

My bouncy curls that were the product of a mixed heritage and symbolized a forward-looking world were seemingly not to be celebrated, at least not by the media and fashion industry. The fleeting moments of praise were shrouded in fetishism, and the sense of “otherness” was consistently present. Ironically, however, I continued to respect a system that did not respect me back.

The Unpublished Musings of Elizabeth Hawes

A hand-scrawled note reads: “Now that Fashion’s Gone to Hell And Dress has become neuter." The phrase floats alone in the center of a small note page—the type of thing one might expect to find today, coffee-stained and abandoned amid a mess of stir sticks and sugar crystals on a vacant table at Starbucks, except this particular note dates to a very pre-Frappuccino® era, written sometime around 1969 by the resident of apartment #429 of the famed bastion of New York bohemian culture, the Hotel Chelsea. It was written by the one-and-only Elizabeth Hawes.

Smuggled in the Bustle

In the late nineteenth century, there was steady coverage in The New York Times about the act of dress smuggling. This act, often referred to as "fashionable smuggling,” involved the practice of smuggling European-made gowns and dress goods into the U.S. Whether a quick report or an in-depth exposé, the focus of each story is smuggling's relationship with the women involved, and of the women who were reported to have smuggled.

The Itsy Bitsy, Teenie Weenie, Atomic Bikini

It was an itsy bitsy, teenie weenie, yellow polka dot bikini…. This catchy tune is as much a part of the summertime for many of us as ice cream. Despite years of singing this song on my way to the pool, it was only once I began researching the bikini’s origins that I found the multiple links between this popular swimsuit style and mid-20th century military developments.

Whys and Why Nots: Reading the Stakes and Meanings of Russell Westbrook’s NBA Style Revolution

Debating and dissecting Westbrook’s style has become a tradition and an ongoing concern for a wide swath of sportswriters, broadcasters, journalists, and fans. In general, however, whereas the sports media has often seen Westbrook’s style choices as a sign of inauthenticity, the fashion industry has almost unanimously embraced these same choices as sign of authenticity. 

Ethel Traphagen: American Fashion Pioneer

After almost a decade in the industry, Ethel began to envision an American fashion system that worked independently of French influence. For her, education was key. Her own early career was fraught with difficulty and self-described “heart-ache” as she lacked any formal training and had to learn the trade through trial and error.

Oral History and Dress History: Monique Naudeix in 1960s Paris

Alongside the continual expansion of the ready-made clothing industry, women’s national position was indeterminate and peripheral, situated as they were at the end of a twenty-year period that saw no legislation for women’s rights (between suffrage in 1945 and the amendment of the marriage law in 1965). Imagery in the fashion press and distribution in boutiques foregrounded this new clothing culture, and symbolized the potential for women to shape their selves and lifestyles during a time in which their autonomy and agency hung in the balance.

Looking Cool in Black Leather

With the word “cool” completely drained of meaning — used today in an excessive, inflationary way — it seems extraordinary that coolness can still be linked with specific garments and characteristics. Indeed, no other garment has been so continually associated for so long with coolness as the black leather jacket. At once, it is part of the fashion industry’s mass-market repertoire yet, barely having changed form over the last century, it stands as a classic symbol of affectlessness, individuality, and non-conformism.