Clothing can be anything the wearer wants it to be, from a symbol of personal expression, to a class signifier, to simply the thing that keeps one protected from the elements. It can also play a part in creating social and political change. In the recently published book Dressing the Resistance: The Visual Language of Protest Through History, author, costume designer, and dress historian Camille Benda explores all the ways in which fashion has been used by women as a tool of activism. From Joan of Arc’s armor to the mere existence of the miniskirt, clothing has always been a powerful instrument for those fighting for change. –Marie Lodi
Joan of Arc wears male military armor after a vision of leading France to war.
Sojourner Truth dresses in Quaker garb to communicate her role as an abolitionist.
Irish rebel hero Constance Markievicz designs a uniform for Citizen’s Army women.
British designer Mary Quant helps popularize the liberating miniskirt.
Middle school student Mary Beth Tinker DIYs anti-Vietnam war armbands.
CODEPINK shocks Republicans in pink sequined vulva costumes.
Russian protest group Pussy Riot sports neon balaclavas and fishnets.
Kiran Gandhi runs the London marathon while free bleeding.
At the Weinstein trial, protestors wear red lipstick and black mesh across their eyes like blindfolds.
The pink-wearing Gulabi Gang defend women’s rights in India.
Portland moms attend Black Lives Matter protests wearing yellow to identify themselves.
All images courtesy of Princeton Architectural Press
This article originally appeared in BUST's Spring 2022 print edition. Subscribe today!