Dior to disco: Second wave feminism and fashion

  • Jean McElvain (University of Minnesota)
  • Monica Sklar (University of Georgia)
  • Madeline Harpham (University of Georgia)


This research strives to identify ways in which second wave feminism triggered lasting change in fashionable dress, and to distinguish these instances of significant change from the natural ebb and flow of the fashion cycle. Second wave feminism was part of mainstream culture with widely known authors. This research uses these texts and analyses of these writings to better understand the social context of this time span and how the fashion system worked during it. Additionally, an assessment of fashionable dress between the years of 1950 and 1979 is created through a content analysis of Vogue magazines. Findings indicate that some silhouettes reflecting the era's messaging, such as lack of foundation garments, were part of a fashion cycle, which may have created different structures upon women. However, other garments, including pants did not grab hold in culture until feminism solidified a lasting path for women with contemporary functionality.

How to Cite:

McElvain, J., Sklar, M. & Harpham, M., (2017) “Dior to disco: Second wave feminism and fashion”, International Textile and Apparel Association Annual Conference Proceedings 74(1).

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Published on
01 Jan 2017
Peer Reviewed