Dressed for Freedom: The Fashionable Politics of American Feminism

Univ. of Illinois. Nov. 2021. 288p. ISBN 9780252086069. pap. $24.95. SOC SCI
Rabinovitch-Fox’s (history, Case Western Reserve Univ.) book is dazzling and necessary. It is less an apology for women who care about style than it is a carefully laid-out critical examination of the ways in which gendered embodiment through fashions has offered access to power while also creating additional double standards for Black and/or queer women. The book comprises familiar stories, like the suffragists’ decision to wear bloomers, alongside everyday acts of resistance that women have made (and continue to make) through their sartorial choices. Rabinovitch-Fox nimbly moves between theory, history, and practice in ways that make this book as valuable for academic feminist conversations as it is for readers who want to know how and why what they wear marks their identities or what they can do to continue to fashion their political perspectives in style.
VERDICT In a world where women in the public eye are pilloried as either unattractive (by heterosexist beauty standards) or as too pretty to be taken seriously, Rabinovitch-Fox has written an essential book on the politics of fashion.
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