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Fashion Sense: Clothing in Frida Kahlo’s Self-Portraits

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During different eras and cultures, the self-portrait has been a captivating component of art. In fact, self-portraiture has been around for decades as a form of portrait art, dating back to the time of ancient Egypt. Self-portraits are representations of individual artists created by the artists themselves. They have been made in every medium, from drawings and paintings to photographs and sculptures, and more. Fashion in self-portraits has always been a key element of self-portraits.

From famed Mexican painter Frida Kahlo come several self-portraits, featuring a wide array of clothing. A Frida Kahlo self-portrait is a depiction of the artist’s suffering. Each piece shows some aspect of her emotional and physical pain from handicaps due to both childhood polio and as the result of becoming an invalid in her late teen years, following a traffic accident. Aside from showing off her traditional Mexican and somewhat bohemian style, Kahlo attempted to accommodate her physical disabilities and distract from them all at once in her art through the use of fashion. The diverse self-portrait clothes painted by Kahlo have been a hot topic of interest in the art world.

Many have studied self-portrait fashion, some with Frida Kahlo central to their research. Kahlo’s personal style was a creative outlet for her but has become iconic over the years. It was often through her fashion choices that she flouted the most dominant conventions of beauty and social expectations of her time; further, her style became synonymous with Mexican culture and politics in the early to mid-1900s. Her self-portraits are arguably the most famous of her paintings, providing glimpses into her life through the clothing and accessories she included.


For more interesting information on self-portrait clothing history and the history of self-portraiture in general, check out “Self Portraits” in the ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ART.

Other resources to explore include the following:

  • “Frida Kahlo’s Construction of Identity: Disability, Ethnicity, and Dress”

  • “Faces of Frida”

  • “The Real Story Behind Frida Kahlo’s Style”

  • “How Frida Kahlo’s fashions brought Mexican politics to the world stage”

  • “Artisan Style: Frida Kahlo”

The Naples Art District (NAD) is home to over 90 professional artists–the largest concentration of working artists in the Southwest Florida area. NAD was established almost two decades ago. It became a 501c-3 non-profit organization in 2016; in 2020, Collier County officially recognized the Naples Art District as a County Cultural Arts District. It gives local professional artists a creative home and is accessible to the public all year round during open studio hours and various events hosted by the member artists of NAD. Contact the Naples Art District at any time online or by phone at 239-249-1977 to learn more.