Fresh style insights, tips and commentary by Michelle Tea, Michael Braithwaite, Leo Plass, Page McBee and Carrie Leilam Love.

Monday, September 6, 2010

It's Labor Day!

It's Labor day! I love Labor Day even though it doesn't have that much to do with fashion, except that if worker's wages hadn't been lifted thanks to labor unions in the early 20th Century, many of us couldn't afford to be concerned with sick stunner styles. Additionally, without the advent of the 40 hour work week (as opposed to the completely unchecked work week), we wouldn't have time to peruse the internet for said sick stunner styles. Furthermore, many of us would be dealing with any variety of illnesses and injuries due to the lax safety standards at our workplaces. It's difficult to find sick stunner styles when you have black lung. Though black never goes out of style, it's true.

In celebration of this often taken for granted Federal holiday, I would like to introduce you to my two favorite (and arguably stylish) labor organizers. Addie L. Wyatt and Mary Harris "Mother" Jones.

Mother Jones, aka the "Miners' Angel," knew that dressing in all black with tall lace collars and hats engorged with taffeta, beading, and  folded silk could make a 4'9" grandmotherly widow look like a formidable force of "don't fuck with workers' rights." Ironically, she wasn't into the suffrage movement because "you don't need the vote to raise hell." True story. You can raise hell with or without the vote. Here's to you, "the most dangerous woman in America," 1902.

Addie L.Wyatt is still "hoppin and not stoppin" and still wears her hair in a power do. She similarly sported larger than life high-collared dresses and an expression that didn't mess around. She went from working in a meat packing plant in Chicago, to working with Martin Luther King Jr. as the labor advisor to his Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and eventually becoming the first black woman labor leader for the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.

So much for the piny ring clad, cigar smoking union toughs.

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