An accessory dedicated to the strength, elegance, and sensitivity of the neck just may be the most powerful one there is. From its multitude of political meanings to its current resurgence from the mid-90s club scene, the choker is as bold as the women who audaciously set the trend.
Perhaps being the most provocative accessory, the choker finds its roots in the Victorian age with velvet and gemstones tying together a lavish, head-to-toe ensemble. Yet while aesthetic value carries an important cultural significance all its own, the history of the necklace itself parallels the social plight of the women who wore them.
During the French Revolution, standing in solidarity with those executed for their political beliefs meant tying a ribbon around one's neck—an intrepid move in an age of little accountability. By making themselves political figures in a time when women were thought to have been best "seen, not heard," these pioneers marked their presence in a way only a woman could: with pride and style.
In the 19th century, the choker was adopted by sex workers as an acute sign of their availability. Most famously depicted in Manet's "Olympia" the simple black bow worn around the neck brought the subtle into the glaring forefront. By creating this juxtaposition of a high-art medium with a socially taboo subject whose position in this society is determined from her accessories alone, Manet perfectly captured the immense power of what lies behind the items adorning our bodies.
Later, during the Depression era, chokers were often worn by lesbians to signify their sexuality. Before Stonewall, before Women's Liberation, the concept of lesbian solidarity was but a pipe dream until counter-culture found its own place in pop-culture—a phenomenon that would not be seen for another twenty years. While economic circumstances were dire, having a small means of reflecting self-identity was an important way to maintain connections in a time so grim.
From the mid-1990's until the present, the choker has weaved its way throughout runway trends and garage sale bins, then back again. The formidable tattoo choker is once again all over the scene, though anyone with an Instagram already knows that!
The aesthetic of geometric lines paired with loosely shaped garments recalls the hippie fashion of the late-60s, but with a modern edge that brings its femininity forward. As a symbol of strength, the choker remains high on the necks of bold women everywhere.
Knowing that the weight of what's worn around your neck carries with it the stories, struggles, and social plights that are the history of women, it could not be stronger or more Feminist-forward to adorn yourself in the same way. Physically bearing significance is to do justice to those who fought, and continue to fight, the good fight.