Style

Who Is Hooker Fashion Actually Benefiting?

By Gwen Farrell
·  7 min read
Evie Cover Photo Shopping-55

Fashion trends may come and go, and some of them are more questionable than others (seriously, who is wearing bell bottoms?) but it seems like the aptly-named “hooker fashion” has the women of today in a stranglehold.

You can’t scroll through Facebook, Instagram, or even walk through a mall without seeing ads of scantily clad models in what looks like ill-fitting clothing. Bikini bottoms shouldn’t cover our butts anymore, and the shorter the dress, the better, apparently.

It’s expected and even understandable to see these styles in environments where trends fluctuate quickly and young women are trying to push the envelope, like a college campus. But hooker fashion isn’t just limited to college-town bars and clubs anymore; it’s being worn by celebrities and women pushing middle age who are wives and moms.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be desirable, or even sexy, and clothing is one of the most expressive ways to communicate how we see ourselves and how we want others to see us. On the other hand, modest clothing these days looks more akin to something like Little House on the Prairie than something cute and flattering we’d actually want to wear. But the alternative really isn’t much better, and if anything, it does more for others than it does for us. Who is hooker fashion actually benefiting?

Is Hooker Fashion by Women, for Women?

When you think of hooker fashion, your mind inevitably conjures up fishnets, barely-there skirts, and thigh-high boots. Julia Roberts’ Pretty Woman might have been a hooker with a heart of gold, but she used her wardrobe to quickly (and very effectively) communicate who she was to everyone around her, from the snooty Rodeo Drive store assistants to the hotel manager.

Times have definitely changed since Vivian Ward walked the streets of Hollywood. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that not only is styling yourself after a prostitute something to be encouraged, but something we should celebrate (and, according to today’s journalists, something we should thank the world’s oldest profession for giving us). 

Hooker fashion might be worn by women, but it certainly isn’t for us. TikTok user Val Emanuel went viral not long ago for lambasting hooker fashion on her page. As a strip club promoter, her male boss had her wear very specific, uncomfortable and incredibly revealing clothing to attract a very specific type of man (aka a man who likes strippers). Over the course of a couple videos, Emanuel manages to summarize why hooker fashion is so damaging to women. Not only do the majority of these styles come from fast fashion brands who utilize sweatshops, which harm the environment and their disenfranchised workers, but the companies are largely owned by men. Essentially, the men behind these multimillion-dollar corporations are dictating what we put on our bodies, even though we believe we’re the ones choosing what to wear. Whenever we scroll through Fashion Nova, Topshop, Shein, Pretty Little Thing, and countless others, we’re contributing to our own downfall as well as that of the environment and these brands’ employees.

Is putting money in their pockets and catering to their tastes really peak gender equality?

Her thesis really is very simple, but impermissible in today’s world. This trend doesn’t benefit us in reality, but it does benefit the men who’ve capitalized on our mistaken assumption that these styles flatter us. Whether they’re making a profit directly off this trend or they’re observing us out in public, they’re gaining a lot more than we are. And we’ve been scammed into thinking that putting money in their pockets and catering to their tastes has gotten us to the peak of gender equality.

Who This Trend Actually Benefits

What does it say about us as a gender that our “empowerment” is so tied up in superficial means, like the clothes we wear? We can’t be empowered through our intellect, our talents, our desires and innate abilities or other accomplishments, but through how we dress, or so we’re led to believe.

It would be one thing if we could dress however we want and get to choose how others see us. But that’s not the way it works in a fallen world. Vivian Ward may have gotten her love story with a man who saw beyond her appearance for who she really was, but others chose to believe they knew her based on how she dressed. While we may believe we’ve somehow appropriated objectification for our own use, we’ve only played into the hands of men who would take advantage of us but have us believe all of it is our decision.

Hooker fashion is a money-making venture, not an exercise in female empowerment. Our self-worth as women and as representatives of our gender is not tied up in micro skirts, crop tops, thong bikinis, and bras worn as tops. We may choose to believe that we’re the ones dictating how people see us, but the men observing this trend aren’t wondering about our hopes and dreams or our goals. Above all, this style communicates that we want to be perceived as something for single use rather than something lasting and permanent, just like our clothes.

There’s a Better Way for Us To Be Noticed

Contrary to popular belief, there are men out there who look at women and don’t see a boundary to be torn down or a conquest to be undertaken. But there are plenty who see this trend for what it is: a scam, and one they can use to their advantage.

Let’s learn the lost art of seduction and use our femininity to our advantage. 

Let’s reiterate that wanting to be attractive, noticed, and desired is a fundamental experience we all want as women, but we won’t accomplish that using Shein’s clearance section. For one, where’s the thrill, the pursuit? Giving ourselves away so easily with our appearance takes all of the rush and excitement out of the equation. What’s more attractive to a potential mate: a shoddily constructed dress that leaves absolutely no mystery, or the buzz and chemistry of our minds, our subtle, communicative actions, and the way we banter? We know which one has the promise of an actual connection, for one thing.

This isn’t about “judging women for what they wear,” just as the solution to this issue isn’t to start dressing like Ma Ingalls. It’s to learn the lost art of seduction and more importantly, to use our femininity to our advantage. So much can be conveyed through a touch on the arm or the crackle of prolonged eye contact. There’s so much to be said for sending a drink to someone from the bar, engaging in an exhilarating back-and-forth, or sharing a knowing smile, rather than having someone’s eyes immediately go to our decolletage and stay there while we talk. When we dress like we just don’t care who sees almost all of us, we do our femininity a huge disservice. It’s not there to be ignored or replaced, but to be used to our advantage.

Closing Thoughts

There’s a distinction to be made between being noticed, and being noticed for the right reasons. Dressing tastefully apparently isn’t attractive anymore and it hasn’t been for a long time, but that doesn’t mean we should automatically give up on the benefits of dressing our age, and doing so in a classy and sophisticated way. Not only will investing in timeless pieces contribute to a more balanced, sustainable society, but you won't be constantly wasting your money buying the next new thing only to ditch it a week later.

People will look at our appearance and involuntarily make a judgment about who they think we are, whether we want them to or not. Clothes make the woman as much as they make the man, and we do all have a choice in what we want that judgment to be.

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