Lady Gaga wore an eye-catching oversized suit to Elle Magazine’s Women in Hollywood event on Monday in an effort to take “power back” and “wear the pants” in a society where men often tell women what to do.
During a speech at the L.A. event, the 32-year-old performer explained that she decided against wearing a dress because she knew her fashion choices matter, and wanted to make a statement that was true to how she was feeling. Gaga said that she felt “sad” after trying on 10 or so dresses, but felt empowered when she spotted an oversized Marc Jacobs suit from the designer’s recent collection.
WATCH BELOW: Lady Gaga At Elle Women In Hollywood
“This was an oversized men’s suit made for a woman. Not a gown. And then I began to cry. In this suit, I felt like me today. In this suit, I felt the truth of who I am well up in my gut,” she said.
“As a sexual assault survivor by someone in the entertainment industry, as a woman who is still not brave enough to say his name, as a woman who lives with chronic pain, as a woman who was conditioned at a very young age to listen to what men told me to do, I decided today I wanted to take the power back. Today I wear the pants.”
The A Star is Born actor said that by wearing a power suit, she resisted the standards of Hollywood, and refused to dress “to impress.” Actors are not objects to entertain the world, she said, and female celebrities are more than their outfits.
“We are not members of a giant beauty pageant meant to be pit against one another for the pleasure of the public. We women in Hollywood, we are voices. We have deep thoughts and ideas and beliefs and values about the world and we have the power to speak and be heard and fight back when we are silenced.”
Suits have long been worn by women to convey power. The 1980s saw the rise of the “working woman power suit,” seen in corporate offices and pop culture alike (think Melanie Griffith in Working Girl and the cast of Dynasty). Former U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is known for her pantsuits, and even inspired the “pantsuit nation” movement, a term used by her supporters during the 2016 campaign.
Women often wear suits because they send a strong message, said Henry Navarro Delgado, an associate professor at Ryerson University’s School of Fashion.
“Spaces of power in society have historically been associated with men and menswear,” Navarro Delgado told Global News. “That’s why when a woman wears pants and a suit, there’s that type of association with power and professionalism.”
Plus, Navarro Delgado said, women who work in industries that are typically dominated by men, like finance or politics, might wear a suit as a way to adopt the dress code of the environment. By wearing the same outfit as men, women are dressing relevant to their workplace and conveying their own power.
“For women, just like men who were working in these spaces, is a way to be included in the dialogue, the conversation … of those spaces,” he said.
While Gaga made her outfit a political statement, Navarro Delgado said her speech about women in Hollywood would have been impactful regardless of what she wore because of who she is: a celebrity.
“Gaga is an icon of subversion, musically, politically and personally,” he said. “She commands attention no matter what, and people listen to what she has to say no matter what.”
“She’s a pop culture icon.”
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