It all started with Rihanna at the 2014 CFDA Awards with her boobs and bum exposed by what amounted to a pair of pink sparkly tights in tank dress form. (Actually, it all started with Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot, but since the film pre-dates the modern feminist conversation, let’s pretend we don’t know that).
So. Ri-Ri. What was she saying with that outfit? Was it a PR stunt? Was it tacky? Or was it, as the Independent suggested, “a fearless, powerful and fantastically seductive feminist statement” from a strong, ballsy female boss who has every right to be proud of her body?
Is (near) nudity always a political statement or only when the scantily clad one claims it as such?
Beyonce didn’t need words to justify the sheer gold sheath she wore to the 2015 Met Gala. Ditto J-Lo almost naked in Versace. But at this year’s event, after Madonna wore a revealing Givenchy dress, she voiced her motives on Instagram: “My dress was a political statement as well as a fashion statement. The fact that people actually believe a woman is not allowed to express her sexuality and be adventurous past a certain age is proof that we still live in an ageist and sexist society.”
But would you choose a similar look for your wedding day? On the downside, it might make your dad feel awkward if he’s escorting you down the aisle. And it’s not exactly church friendly.
Australian TV presenter Ksenija Lukich pulled it off recently with an elegantly revealing option by Steven Khalil, who counsels: “The secret to keeping sheer chic is to use it as highlight rather than a completely sheer gown. It’s very beautiful when used in subtler elements.”
Sheer may not be the traditional choice. But what does that even mean in 2016? It was Queen Victoria who popularised the chaste white wedding gown. Since she and Albert wed in 1840, the demure white gown has come to symbolise the virgin bride, but, today? Seriously? Come on.
The average Australian woman loses her virginity at 17. The median age of Aussie brides is 29. Of the couples who married in Australia in 2014, 79 per cent cohabitated before they said “I do”.
I for one would am not happy for my fashion choices to be taken as some antiquated signifier of my sexual activity status. That’s my business, thank you.
It’s my 10th year wedding anniversary on Friday. I got married in a field wearing a crown of glass flowers and a high-necked, long-sleeved opaque white vintage frock. Was my aim to send a coded message to my friends and family that I was a pure unsullied virgin about to offer myself before god to my betrothed? Um, no. I was 30-years-old, and living with my finance. We were married in a secular ceremony and I walked down the aisle to Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg’s Je t’aime. I chose my dress because I loved it – and I’m a high-necked, long-sleeved sort of a person in general life. I didn’t want to dress up like someone I wasn’t – not Beyonce in not much, or a Disney princess in a meringue.
But had I been, say, Brazilian Victoria’s Secret model Isabeli Fontana, would I have said “I do” in a transparent mesh swim coverup if I’d felt like it? Damn straight I would. Because I am a modern woman, and we wear what we want.