By: Bernadette Grondin
It's summer. The sun is beating down, people are hitting the beaches, and sitting in the 5'o'clock traffic is unbearable. The winter gear is put away and the spring jackets are hung up; out come the shorts, t-shirts, and sandals. We all know the signs of the approach of summer. However, we often can get so caught up in the heat and trying to keep cool that we can forget about still looking and dressing in an appropriate way.
A new fashion (pictured above) is emerging this summer, and as you can see it is little more than a bra and jeans. I think we need to take a second to think about this new fashion statement and ask ourselves: what does this summer outfit say about our view of ourselves when we wear it? And, as it is being promoted by the big fashion industries, what does it say about society's view of women? Unfortunately, it doesn't say anything exceedingly positive. It draws immediate attention to the torso – and let’s face it, the breasts – preventing genuine interactions with people who should be drawn to our face and eyes first. It sends a message that the woman wearing it is looking for attention rather than connection, whether or not that is her true intent. It also tells me that the fashion industry is trying to convince women that attention is better than connection.
For the most part, many women probably choose to wear this style because it is a billion degrees outside and the “shirt” definitely provides ventilation. However, people read our outfits and respond to what they seem to be saying about us. We owe it to ourselves, and all the other women and girls who may be influenced by our style, to dress in a way that speaks of who we really are as individual persons.
I've spoken before about how we should dress to suit all of our daily, every day calls to be leaders, teachers, nurses, mothers, wives, and every other duty we take on. Our style can help us to more efficiently convey who we are and why we are there – a lawyer doesn’t wear a bra top to court, although she might be free to do so. She would instead wear a great dress or power suit that tell everyone around that “Yes, I am a woman and I am great.” This new summer style, unfortunately, does not empower women or help them convey who they are. If anything, by making cleavage and belly-button the focal point of the outfit, it shows a lot of skin but not much else. It hides the uniqueness and real beauty of the wearer – which goes beyond the physical. In many ways the style in this store window says that a woman is great insofar as she has an appealing body, and it puts that body on display for judgement.
The female body is beautiful, great, and amazing, but it alone does not constitute who we are as women and people. We should never wear anything that shows less of who we really are by focusing all of the attention on our bodies. Each woman is powerful because of all of the little traits, abilities, gifts, and qualities that only she possesses – somehow our look has to allow all that complexity to shine.
Yet, in the summer, I won't deny that it is hard to find outfits that flatter our bodies, keep us cool, and are still complementary to our femininity. That's why we have to put together our own and not give in to what is currently the “style of the season”. Shorts and tanks are always a go to, and you can find a never ending supply of blouse-y or casual tank-tops at any store. Maxi dresses and bright, sleeve-less dresses are great for trips to the beach; throwing a blazer or cardigan over one also works to turn it professional for the office.
We have so many options for stylish outfits as women. All we need is to put a little creativity into it, and we can put together so many different adorable summer styles with only a few wardrobe pieces, and without compromising our privacy or unique beauty. This summer, let's brighten the office, the beach, and everywhere we go with stylish outfits that say: “Yes, I am a woman and I am great”.