Liberal vs. Conservative: What are the Fashion stereotypes?

Phia Huebner, Writer

Walking down the halls during passing time, a student at New Prague High School can witness countless unique fashion statements and styles. Fashion is a form of communication that does not require words or explanation. A simple outfit can tell a lot about a person and how they wish to be seen, but is it possible that it goes even deeper? Fashion may go as far as communicating political affiliation.  I asked some students their thoughts. 

When asked simply if they knew of any stereotypes surrounding the fashion of opposing political sides, I was greeted with an abundance of interesting answers. However, acknowledging that these stereotypes exist does not determine whether or not students believe them.  

“Liberal fashion” was characterized by most as non-conforming to society. Quite literally the consensus was that left-leaning people are more liberal with the way they dress. One student said that left-leaning people usually “have their own vibe” and “don’t need to fit in” in regards to their wardrobe choices. Another common agreement was that “liberal” fashion doesn’t just have strict guidelines. In other words, “liberal” fashion doesn’t have just one set style or aesthetic; there is uniqueness even within the category. Other “liberal” indicators were monochrome outfits, bright colors, all-black outfits, layers, unique shoes, lots of jewelry, and lots of unique pieces. Clothing that promotes environmental awareness, women’s rights, and LGBTQIA+ rights were also associated with liberal fashion. One student went as far as to say that in “liberal” fashion “there has to be a rainbow on every piece of clothing,” Indicators that didn’t necessarily include clothing were masks, piercings, and brightly colored hair. 

In contrast “conservative” fashion was characterized by one similar style genre. One student referred to it as “countryesque” which captures the similarities in all the student responses. Some common style choices associated with  “right-wing” fashion were jeans, sweatshirts, baseball hats, tennis shoes, cowboy boots, work boots, clothing with the American Flag, and camo print. Wearing clothing for hunting and fishing to school was also associated with conservative beliefs. Another common description of “right-leaning” fashion was wearing your political beliefs right on the clothing such as the blue lives matter flag, anti-mask messages, or clothing depicting past Republican political leaders. Conservative fashion was also described as being more modest and simple.  Indicators that weren’t clothing were lack of mask and mullets.

It was very clear to me that most students have similar stereotypes in their heads regarding left and right-wing fashion.  The question still remained: Can you tell someone’s political affiliation by their outfit? The overwhelming answer was most likely, but not always. Here at New Prague High School, the split between liberals and conservative fashion seems to be glaringly obvious, and people easily make assumptions of Liberal or Conservative based solely on clothing. Fashion is supposed to be a safe space for self-expression of all kinds, and these stereotypes may be harmful to that universal belief. Although most students agree that their assumption based on someone’s outfit is most likely accurate, I’m sure we can all agree that getting to know someone is a better alternative to judging their outfit from afar.