Protest signs for the March for Our lives, Los Angeles
Photo: Merle Ginsberg
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If you’re like me, you’ve spent a lot more time at protests in the last 14 months. And, as with the come-and-go fashion zeitgeist, the sixties and seventies are now being recycled, this time in politics – as our government/patriarchy grows more and more oppressive, and feminists and the youth raise their voices and march in the streets.

Lately, I do feel kind of guilty about shopping and caring about trends, even looking at photos from the shows online. News has taken precedence over fashion magazines. Look, it’s all about passion: passion for aesthetics, which drives the desire for dresses, bags and shoes, plus the freedom to express my individuality – and passion about pushing back at oppression of any kind, particularly when it comes to the government telling you what you can and can’t do with your body – and that kids getting killed is less important than gun rights. A good sign your best accessory at any kind of march – as long as it’s relevant to the theme.

Photo Merle Ginsberg

Without starting to rant on present politics– and it’s hard for me not to – I’ve been pondering lately on what’s optimum to wear in our brave new world of resistance and rising up. I’m eschewing Barneys and Neimans in favor of soft t shirts, slightly forgiving and flared cropped leggings – and leaving the trend part to my sneakers – Golden Goose sock sneakers, on sale for $150 from $700. I’ve been wearing Brit-style nautical caps, a la John Lennon, from Zara, making my nails green-black with Chanel’s Fiction polish (girls will be girls) – and kicking it up a bit with bright red matte lipstick (the only thing I can’t resist buying.

Merle Ginsberg at March for Our Lives, Los Angeles
Photo: Thomas Drotar

I have never worn a t-shirt in my life till now – let alone the (shudder) occasional jeans. I didn’t even know where to buy t-shirts! (H & M, Zara, Crossroads, Wasteland, Splendid, Three Dots.) But I’ve come to observe, with the trained eagle eye of a fashion editor, what to wear to a march/protest, as this is something I ASSURE YOU fashion people DO think about this: even though, like me, they probably feel guilty about it, a bit shamed for being so superficial in light of such a serious issue: but dressing well, or appropriately – doesn’t take away from the political ramifications and a serious intent – does it?

I ran into my friend, the longtime fashion writer Monica Corcoran Harel, at the march. She was wearing a nylon jacket with “FEMINIST” stenciled on the back that was SO cool and so original. Turns out she feels much like me at – well, not being able to NOT see defined looks at these things:

“Activists always say, ‘comfort first’ when it comes to marches, but let’s face it: style is an amazing and utilitarian way to express yourself. (Think of the pink pussy hats.) I have stenciled “Feminist” tee shirts and sweat shirts for my daughter Tess and myself so we’re always sharing our views.  My friends and I created that stencil for the first Womens’ March in D.C. last year. We cut out the letters on poster board and adorned tees, sweatshirts and jackets with fabric spray paint at a pre-party before we left L.A. to march. It was very DIY! Nylon jackets are great because the fabric is perfect for any weather protests.”

What trends did she observe?

“In L.A., I saw lots of powerful tees with slogans like ‘Don’t Shoot!’ and ‘Am I Next?’ Many women in my crowd opted for Anine Bing fatigue jackets and suede booties because we knew we wouldn’t be marching for miles/hours this time around.”

Well, here are my pointers for the next march –as there’s sure to be one. On tax day, April 15, I believe there is one for Trump to show his taxes. Ha! But I’ll be there anyway.

First things first, find out the color of the theme (pink for feminism, orange for protesting gun violence) – because there always seems to be one. I obviously didn’t get the memo about the orange for March For Our Lives – and as a fashion person, was embarrassed. Eventually, a woman generously gave me a homemade orange knit cap with ENOUGH stitched on in black.  Orange showed up on babies, parents, dogs, men, women, old people – in many forms. Hats was one. No, your fuschia pussy hat won’t fly in every march. Get with the right program.

Photo Merle Ginsberg


Photo Merle Ginsberg

If all else fails, dye your hair the color of the theme – or pop on a wig.


Photo Merle Ginsberg

Just wear something – sweater, sweatshirt, with the color embedded.


Photo Merle Ginsberg

All forms of leg wear are cool – as long as they’re comfortable (the fishnet ones would like kind of stupid here). Orange laces on sneakers: perf. Or orange sneakers themselves. Even a thin sweatshirt wrapped around the waist works. This protestor chose to work all three. And best of all, you can buy any of these things at Target –not Tar JAY.


I saw a lot of orange framed sunglasses. No, you don’t need to get Oliver Peoples. The $4 ones sold on the street will do.


Photo Merle Ginsberg

Anything with a flag on it works – even the flag itself. Who says we’re not real Americans? Surely Betsy Ross would approve.


Photo Merle Ginsberg

They look tough, keep you warmer, and they go over everything. Recycle to ride your bike at night.

 – Merle Ginsberg



Ernest Schmatolla is publisher of Lookonline since 1994. It is the longest running fashion site on the Internet.

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