International Women’s Day: how fashion has empowered women

2016-03-18 (1)

International women’s day is a global day that takes place annually on March 8. It is a day to celebrate the achievements of women across the world and the progress of achieving equality of men and women in every aspect of life.

The 2016 campaign #PledgeForParity is about men and women coming together through different events to achieve gender parity quicker. The campaign aims to help women and girls achieve their ambitions, live in a world of gender-balanced leadership and to ensure that workplace bias is eliminated from all roles.

The Library and Arts Centre in Sunderland held a talk for International Women’s Day by the dressmaker and costume historian Meredith Towne. The event was free and open to the public alongside a range of other events helf by the library.

Meredith discussed women’s fashion through history and gave a visual representation of how fashion through the era’s has helped to empower women. She said: “Fashion is so important, all the way through history women have fought through fashion to show their independence, their intelligence and the place that they want to take in the world.”

Towne used a variety of different dresses and accessories to show a timeline of clothing from the 1920s through to the 1950s. She discussed how restrictive early fashions and to what extent females were forced to wear clothing to fit that era.

On the day to celebrate women, it was incredible to see females of all ages getting involved and reliving their pasts through different styles of clothing. After the talk was over, Meredith invited all the women to the front to ask questions and to get a closer look at the accessories.

Dressmaker Meredith collects vintage goods and travels around the country doing talks about historical fashion. People send her items that may have belonged to an old family member or simply items they have came across throughout the years. She said: “All of these things would mean so much more if they had a name to go with them.”

Towne discussed how historical clothing tells a story of what was going on in the world at that time. The talk covered what things affected clothing such as World Wars and dances of the era.

Another supporter of International Women’s Day was North East shop owner Lyndsey Jackson. The vintage store Corner93 is in Sunderland and has a wide range of vintage goods ranging from clothes to furniture.
When asking Lyndsey how she believes fashion has empowered women, she replied: “I think with doing what I do I think you can see a real change in the construction of clothes in terms of how they have mirrored a women’s role in society of the day.

“As the years have gone on clothes have become a way to express themselves, you can portray a lot in what a woman wears and how she wants to dress to show her personality.”

Although this is an annual day to celebrate achievements and equality for women, gender parity is something that should be aimed for every day of the year. This is an ongoing thing and is something that we should aim to speed up.

Learn more about International Women’s day at

Are you into vintage clothing? Check out Corner93 at


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