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Gender and fashion

There is no “guide”, as such, on how to break the normalities and gender expectations of fashion. From the moment we are born, girls are swaddled in pink and boys in blue. Men wear suits, women, skirts and dresses. In this new era of gender fluidity, fashion has started to follow the unwritten rule of anything goes. The new decade is a promise of innovating, fresh, forward thinking fashion. It is a promise of acceptance, and of fashion which breaks the boundaries and limitations of what gender is.

The last year in particular showed a stark change in “gendered fashion” and which pieces are seen to be specific to men and women. 2019 saw women being bold in boyish oversized clothing, suits and bulky aggressive trainers. It saw men with painted nails and skirts. The actor Billy Porter attended the 2019 Academy Awards in a Christian Siriano dress, later writing in Vogue: “My goal is to be a walking piece of political art every time I show up.”

We can only hope that the next decade progresses with this same attitude.

Dresses for all

Should it be newsworthy when a man wears a dress? Should it be something that needs to be talked about? Maybe this is what is preventing men from experimenting with their clothing choices. Or is this publication of new and exciting male fashion trends a way for the conversation about gender and fashion to be exhumed?

The clothes that are worn today can be a reflection of the steps that have been taken to make the LGBTQ+ community more visible. It is a reflection of changes in gender roles and the rise of social media.  These have allowed the line between gender and dress to be blurred into a cocktail of the two. It is seen on the catwalk at fashion weeks, and on the streets of milan, Paris and London. We are reversing what we know about fashion and rewriting its history.  

The unconventional is more accepted. This change does not just lie within the physical garments of fashion. Women’s hair styles have a part to play in how fashion is being blurred when it comes to gender. Not only are women cutting their hair, they are cutting the stereotypical hyper-femininity that has been forced upon them for decades prior. Of course, this is not a new phenomenon. Women are changing their image, and of how society thinks they should be perceived. Equally, men are growing their hair long, piercing their ears, wearing rings and painting their nails black.

A history of fashion

The rise of the influencer and celebrity fashionista has helped garments be more universal and inspiring. The late David Bowie and Prince were kings of the fashion world during the 70’s and throughout the last century. They wore statement pieces never seen before on men, and changed the way people thought about fashion at that time. Their influence and legacy has been carried forward ever since.

More recently, Harry Styles is thought of as a fashion icon, and one which is not afraid of breaking the rules. He paints his nails vibrant colours, wears jumpsuits, high waisted trousers and boots with heels. Harry has come a long way from the stereotypical boy band member that we all knew so well. He has become the face of Gucci and embraced his quirkiness through his dress.

Anna Wintour’s 2019 Met Gala theme encourage Camp fashion statements, and those who followed the theme correctly, wore extravagant exploding dress. Some were an eyesore, and some were just plain brilliant. Ezra Miller really showed how far one could go to explore notes on Camp, with his flowing train which attached to an embellished pinstripe suit, worn over a crisp white shirt. Miller magically incorporated makeup into his outfit, wearing illusion makeup and bright red lipstick. He showed everyone how to correctly follow a Met Gala theme.

Cara Delevigne wore head to toe Dior rainbow dress, and if that doesn’t scream camp, I don’t know what will. Lupita Nyong’o channeled Marie Antoinette vibes with her hair. Nyong’o had five golden pick combs strategically placed in her hair, paired with arched eyebrows and dazzling eye makeup.

Let it be

Fashion, to me, is what you make it. If you are a woman who likes to wear oversized tees paired with bulky Doc Martens, then do it.  Equally, if you are a woman who enjoys wearing skin tight dresses and killer heels, there is nothing stopping you! There should be power in our choice of wearing “gendered” clothing and power in “non-gendered” clothing.

If a man wants to wear a skirt, then he is more than welcome to. Fashion is there to be explored and played with, not a set of rules in a book to be followed. It is both universal and personal, and it is different for everyone.  


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