I had the pleasure of attending the Cabot Theatre’s recent showing of the Swedish film versions of the Stieg Larsson Trilogy. I was surprised and fascinated by the European style violence countered with the main character Lisbeth’s struggle for personal and legal independence. In the final film, she is on trial for attempted murder and she dresses a particular way- like a clockwork orange goth. This is a nod to her past suffering of sexual violence and government conspiracies. Nearly everyone underestimates her, pegs her as a dangerously insane woman, and this makes the conclusion extremely satisfying. Viewers also see her in her cell scrubbing at her eyeliner, so it is very clear that this appearance is a performance.
The clothes mania of adult women ensnared by the wedding industry has been well studied. How are you supposed to think about that special time?
The reason this marketing can get hooks into nearly every woman is because we know how important the uniform, armor, outfit is to a given situation. Who are we? We aren’t what we eat, but what we wear in the eyes of a prospective employer, mate, in-law, school, or friend.
Salander uses changing her appearance to great effect, although it cannot shield her entirely. In the first movie she is attacked by a group of drunks, perhaps because she looks like she is trying to be something other than a feminine target perhaps simply because she didn’t get out of the way quick enough.
I had a recent moment of wardrobe realization in a fitting room: In a buttoned down navy blue suit I was the woman in charge. There are opportunities in every day for right thought, right action, right speech and I muse, right clothes. Our identities can be fluid, suited to an event or a mood- not locked in or branded as marketers might wish. I own a suit. But I am not a Suit.