The Handmaid's Tale

In The Handmaid's Tale, why does dress codes in gilead play an important role in the social control of women? How could this correlate to social control in our society today?

dress codes in gilead

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Dress codes in todays western society are meant to express our individuality. I live in the frozen section of the continent and one can buy designer snow boots to 30 below Zero! In the Handmaid's tale Women are divided into a small range of social categories, each one signified by a specific-color dress in a similar style. Handmaids wear red, Marthas wear green, and Wives wear blue. Econowives, the lower-class women , are sort of a mixture of all these categories, so they wear stripes. In Gilead women are compartmentalized. Offred describes her handmaid's outfit as,

"The skirt is ankle-length, full, gathered to a flat yoke that extends over the breasts, the sleeves are full. The white wings too are prescribed issue; they are to keep us from seeing, but also from being seen. I never looked good in red, it's not my color. "

She mentions that red is "not my colour" as a darkly ironic joke. The clothes have merely made it easier to decipher which commodity a specific woman facilitates. Today I think the social contrast, at least in western society, is a lot more subtle. Women are covertly and subliminally subjugated through largely male controlled advertising. A certain "look" denotes a certain personality. Of course in strict Islamic countries the subjugation is much more overt. The Burka, for example, represents the type of repression similar to the novel.