2016 was one of the most politically and culturally turbulent years in recent memory: Black Lives Matter, the tumultuous election, the rise of normalized White supremacy and misogyny, and the continued conversation around cultural appropriation made headlines daily. But difficult times also make for some of the most interesting and fascinating art — and if there's anything the events of the past 12 months taught us, it's that clothes are so much more than something we simply wear.
This year saw the rise of fashion as not just political commentary, but as activism and “weaponized glamour," as I wrote in Elle this fall, or using style and femininity as resistance to oppression. Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie earned recognition beyond the literary realm, sitting front row at Paris Fashion Week and landing a groundbreaking beauty campaign for British brand Boots; Beyoncé’s historic Lemonade got people talking — and not just about the lyrics, but about the costumes in each video and what they signified; and the rise of the "Pantsuit Nation" coalition reminded us that something as simple as a two-piece set has the power to ignite thousands. It's these happenings, among many others featured ahead, that emphasized the notion that we should all reject the misconception that fashion is just about clothes, especially when every single person makes a choice of what to wear, and those decisions are informed by the politics, economics, and culture of their situation.
As we roll into 2017, fashion will increasingly be used to not only weaponize, but to stand against oppression and hate. Here, we rounded up a few of the stand-out moments of this past year when style and politics collided, causing way more than conversation.