Fashion Fact Friday - Shoulder Pads
Let me start with a full disclosure – as a little red headed girl I dreamt about the day I’d be a grown up and an independent woman, so I can own a gorgeous wardrobe full of shoulder pads. In my eyes, they always seemed such like a powerful statement and I just had to own them. Oh, if only I knew how symbolic my desire was. Today they're an integral part of many collections, but the story behind them is much more powerful, important and historical than you can imagine.
Shoulder pads were originally made at the end of the 19th century to protect football players during their intense games. It was only in 1930 when they were transformed into a fashionable item with a statement. Italian designer, Elsa Schiaparelli, was the first to understand the chicness of the pads and made them a feminine element in her designs.
The presence of shoulder pads increased during WW2, in women’s work attire. When women first started working, during WW1, work place fashion was all about comfortable fabrics and loose garments. In the 40's the goal was to create a masculine figure in a hope to enable women in equating their pay and status to the men’s.
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50 years later, shoulder pads had a glamorous comeback thanks to pop culture. TV and movie actresses, models and singers became associated with the iconic triangle silhouette that later became the symbol of the 80's and of powerful women. When you think about Joan Colling or Grace Jones, what image pops in your mind? Exactly.
In the 1980's there was another revolution in women's status. It's considered to be the decade women moved forward in upper echelons in major companies. It was a time when the path to gender equality seemed to go through creating a masculine look, so shoulder pads were sewn into many work outfits, particularly suits.
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Cut to 2018, new collections from the most desirable brands include jackets, coats, tops and dresses with shoulder pads. Marc Jacobs, Isabel Marant, Saint Laurent and more legendary fashion houses presented the iconic triangle silhouette, yet again. History teaches us that this trend is much more than a trend, it accompanies specific times, so what happened this time? Well, hashtag me too, that's what happened.
Shortly following the rise of this groundbreaking movement, and the awakening of women around the world, shoulder pads popped up like mushrooms after rain.
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The connection between the decades is clear – when there's a shift in gender climate, the shoulders expand. The powerful, dominant, stiff look goes hand in hand with women's rights. On one hand, it seems like every decade women’s status is improving and more glass ceilings are being shattered, but on the other hand, the road to full equality is still long. Guess we'll be seeing more of shoulder pads in the future.
Be fierce, be powerful, be a woman.