Clothing as a Site of Memory: The Uses and Legacy of Suffrage Fashion


  • Einav Rabinovitch-Fox Case Western Reserve University


Clothing and appearance were an instrumental part of the women’s suffrage campaign in the United States that led to the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment. By using specific styles and colours and emphasizing feminine appearance, suffragists turned fashion into a political strategy to refute popular derogatory images of women activists, while also building their “brand” to gain public support for their cause. By the late twentieth century, women politicians who sought to break new ground in government reclaimed suffragists’ fashion and especially the suffrage colours, making it part of their political vocabulary and message. Examining the role suffrage fashions played in the past and their legacies in the present thus illuminates how fashion became a site of feminist memory to the movement and to the struggle. Through the material manifestations and legacies suffrage maintained in popular culture, fashion became a means of commemoration as well as resistance.

Author Biography

Einav Rabinovitch-Fox, Case Western Reserve University

Einav Rabinovitch-Fox is a lecturer at Case Western Reserve University.