What To Wear To A Protest

From hands-free bags to durable fabrics.

by Bustle
Originally Published: 
What To Wear To Black Lives Matter Protests Breonna Taylor
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Throughout history, protests have proven effective in bringing about change — and the present era is no different. Whether participating in the Women's March or joining the Black Lives Matter movement, people stand on the front lines to make their voices heard. But it's not just their presence that makes a statement, their clothing does as well. You can you send a message by wearing garments with political significance, from Pink knit hats at the Women's March to yellow vests in France, or choosing items with slogans related to your cause, like the Black Lives Matter and "I Can't Breathe" shirts. Fashion also plays a practical role during demonstrations. If you've ever wondered what to wear to a protest to stay safe, you are not alone.

The wardrobe items you choose for a demonstration can actually protect you from harm. Wear a face mask to lessen the spread of a virus, a pair of sunglasses to shield your eyes from tear gas, and a hands-free bag to make sure your belongings are secure. Take your cue from celebrities like Ariana Grande and Nick Cannon who attended Black Lives Matter protests in looks that were functional and durable. Both wore long sleeves and a face mask for an important reason. You too should be prepared when you leave your home to protest, and that includes the outfit you choose.

Ahead, find some tips for what to wear to a protest.

Wear a Face Mask To Protests

With COVID-19 still raging around the country (let alone the world), you don’t want to throw away virus safety regulations just because you're protesting. Though sometimes you can’t avoid walking shoulder-to-shoulder with others, make sure to cover your face with a non-medical cloth face mask for your own protection and the protection of others.

Wear Sunglasses or Eyeglasses

Whether they are prescription glasses or sunglasses to shield your eyes from the sun, glasses of any kind are a solid protection from pepper spray, will help with tear gas, and act as a barrier if anything is physically thrown in your direction. If you wear contacts, try to avoid that amid a protest, as sprays and gasses can get trapped between the lens and your eye, causing excessive pain.

Carry a Hands-Free Bag

The less you have in your hands, dangling from your body, or generally taking your attention away from what you’re doing, the better. Though you might not be a huge fan of the fanny pack look, it’s a great option for a crowded protest. It's kept closer to the body and there's less chance you'll drop or misplace it.

Avoid Jewelry At Protests

In the same vein as a handbag, try to remove all jewelry, if possible. Not only is it easy to get broken, caught on someone else's clothing, or ripped off, it can also pose a health hazard if your ring finger is stepped on or your necklace is pulled, for example.

Wear a Baseball Cap

Consider donning a baseball cap for crowded protests. It will provide you with anonymity, protect you from the beating sun, rain, or other weather elements, and also give you a little extra facial protection.

Choose Durable Fabrics like Denim

There is a large possibility that, when marching in such a large crowd, you could be pushed or knocked to the ground. While you can’t totally avoid that outcome, you can make sure that you wear durable fabrics that will be more difficult to rip.

Wear Long Pants

In keeping with the above, long pants are a must, and long sleeves are preferable as well. Whether it’s to protect you from the elements or tripping and falling, it’s best to cover up as much as possible.

Choose Nondescript Clothing

For your own safety (and the safety of others), try to fly as under-the-radar as possible with a nondescript head-to-toe outfit.

Pack Fresh Clothing

Whether you get shoved in the mud, pepper-sprayed, or hit with a chemical that lingers, make sure to have another outfit on hand carried in a backpack or oversize fanny pack. You might just have to layer up a bit more in the best case, but the worst case might require a full-blown outfit change.

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