Do Clothes Have A Gender?


Li Na Jiang, Reporter

The widely known singer and songwriter, Harry Styles was recently seen on the December 2020 cover of Vogue, in many styles of dresses and skirts. The photoshoot was composed of many masculine and feminine elements, which brought about praise, but also criticism. “Bring back manly men,” author Candace Owens tweeted. Owens expressed publicly that men are not allowed to wear dresses. Her Instagram was flooded with comments rebutting her; “if men are not allowed to have a feminine side, then women like her should stop wearing suits.” Fashion has always been a limitless way for people to express themselves and feel comfortable. Men who dress in “feminine clothing” are still powerful men, and women who dress in “masculine clothing” are still powerful women. 

As revolutionary, and iconic the shoot was, Styles is not the first to be breaking stereotypes around gender-fluid fashion, there are countless others who are embodying this every day. People like Prince, Jaden Smith, and Freddie Mercury have always been setting the blueprint and dismantling gender norms since the late 20th century.  Though Styles identifies as a cis man, he finds joy in exploring and wearing different types of clothing. “When you take away ‘There’s clothes for men and there’s clothes for women’, once you remove any barriers, obviously you open up the arena in which you can play. I’ll go in shops sometimes, and I just find myself looking at the women’s clothes thinking they’re amazing. It’s like anything—anytime you’re putting barriers up in your own life, you’re just limiting yourself,” he told Vogue.

Historically speaking, young boys wearing dresses was rather practical. Today, dresses are associated with feminine clothing, but the dresses young boys and girls wore from the early 17th century to the early 20th century were considered gender-neutral. Dresses allowed for efficiency, and it wasn’t until the “age of reason” when boys would begin the process of breeching.

As the first solo man to appear on the cover of Vogue, Styles has truly inspired others and contributed to gender-fluid fashion with him being in the public eye. The impact Styles and other fashion icons have made is utterly profound to the world today and the future. People are allowed to wear whatever they want, and like Styles, the best way to wear it is to wear it confidently!