Juneteenth and the History of African Fashion in America
We’re celebrating Juneteenth and "Dolce libertà!" by discussing some of the history that explains why fashion is such a significant part of the holiday and how clothing became a important part of the emancipation movement!
We'll also look at some of the meanings and themes behind the fashions of the holiday and even offer you a few fashionable suggestions to help keep you looking sharp during your next Juneteenth event.
Juneteenth is all about the freedom of expression, and one of the best ways you can express yourself is through your attire! Check out our wide selection of designer suits today to find the perfect style to express yourself in!
Many people don't understand the association between clothing and Juneteenth, which is understandable. But a quick glance at history will show that the two have really always been connected!
This is because a person's attire, their identity, and their place in society are all closely related ideas. And this fact was especially true for former slaves during the post-emancipation era!
For example, did you know that one of the ways that Black people cast off their former identity as slaves was through their attire?
After their emancipation, many freedmen threw their old clothes into rivers or creeks as symbolic gestures against their former masters. This “shedding” of clothing was an important part of the rebirth of Black society into the greater American culture. Their fashion statement became a significant part of American history!
To get a better idea of how freedmen felt about their attire, its important to remember that many slaveowners often forced their slaves to wear uncomfortable, ragged, and inferior clothing that didn't even offer full protection from the elements like the sun, wind, and rain.
In North America, some states, such as South Carolina, even had what were known as "sumptuary laws". These kinds of laws controlled the social identity of Black people by forbidding slaves to dress in a way which appeared higher than their social standing.
So think of the relief they felt when those former slaves finally obtained the freedom to throw their old clothing away and wear something fresh and new. It really is hard for us in the modern day to imagine!
Continuing this tradition, dress remains a big part of Juneteenth celebrations even up to the modern day.
So looking your best during Juneteenth isn’t just fashionable, it’s also a way to honor and cherish the memory of those who came before us who didn't have the same freedoms that we enjoy in the present era.
Today, the fashions associated with Juneteenth are quite diverse, so deciding what to wear during a Juneteenth celebration can be tricky. Some of it actually depends on the type of event you are attending.
Some Juneteenth celebrators opt for patriotic red, white and blue colors to their outfits. Others decide to don outfits of red, green, and black, which are the colors of the Pan-African movement which was made famous by Marcus Garvey in the 1920's. Many modern-day African countries derived inspiration from these colors for their own national flags.
Marcus Garvey argued that the unity between members of the African diaspora was vital to the long-term economic growth potential and future of Africa, and was also necessary in order for the successful resistance of European imperialism by Black Africans.
Many of Marcus Garvey's ideas were revolutionary for their time, and they still resonate within Black culture up to the present day. You can read more about Marcus Garvey and Pan-Africanism here.
These Pan-African inspired color designs are quite vibrant, so they work great with a more showy, flashy look, like with a three-piece suit or tuxedo. These designer three-piece suits are a great, colorful option to pair with your Pan-African inspired outfit!
Making effective use of color, including the Pan-African colors, is a vital part of finding your perfect Juneteenth style, so get creative and experiment!
Try a pair of our brightly colored high-tops to help you nail that African-inspired look!
Understanding some of the meanings that these colors symbolize is important to wearing them well.
Within the wider context of the Pan-African movement:
Black symbolizes the shared identity of Black people themselves.
Green symbolizes growth and the natural beauty of Africa.
Red symbolizes the blood shed by Africans in their fight for liberation.
Yellow is featured prominently in the flag of Ethiopia, which remained a wholly independent African state during the period of Western colonization.
Each of these colors contributes their own unique and specific meaning to the Pan-African movement, and to fashion!
If these flashier hues aren't exactly your thing, then don't worry, because not all Juneteenth fashion has to revolve around these colors!
White is another common color-theme during many Juneteenth celebrations, with guests sporting more straightforward styles, such as linen suits or white-cotton dresses. These types of events call for a slightly more reserved look, such as a two-piece suit with some light accessorizing.
These premium suits feature a light linen-blend design and are versatile enough to be mixed and matched with many different colored outfits. Pair them with one of our flashy designer hats and you will certainly have a very crisp Juneteenth outfit.
But remember, many Juneteenth celebrations can take place outside, so keep that in mind when deciding your outfit. A tight fitting three-piece with a ton of accessories might make you look more stylish, but it may also be unbearably hot during the party.
If you do decide to wear a three-piece or a highly formal tux to an outdoor Juneteenth event, then make sure its made of a light, breathable fabric like linen, cotton, or silk!
However you decide to dress this Juneteenth, remember to honor the legacy of those Black Americans who came before us, and to look good while you do it!