A poll was recently sent out regarding the controversy over clothing gender stereotypes. This is a huge dispute right now: we see people wear clothes of the opposite sex, and society shows ambivalence towards it. Through the poll, we found that more people are uncomfortable seeing men wear women’s clothing than vice versa.
Feminine and masculine concepts play huge roles in the world of fashion. As a matter of fact, style tends to be built around the two structures. We see this mainly in stores, with clothes naturally divided into two sections: Men’s and Women’s. It’s the cliche that surrounds us and influences our outfit choices. Men wear suits and women wear dresses; that’s how it’s “supposed” to go. But not for music artist Harry Styles.
On the cover of Vogue’s December 2020 issue, Harry Styles takes our breath away. Wearing a full Gucci’s periwinkle blue gown, along with a leather jacket he completely breaks gender stereotypes. Many are impressed by this, proud of Styles, while others find it unsettling.
But Styles has never been afraid to show his feminine side. At the 2019 Met Gala, he wore another Gucci-styled outfit: a sheer black blouse, accompanied with black high-waisted pants and black heeled boots. He confidently walks alongside Alessandro Michele, one of Gucci’s designers, rocking a single pearl earring and painted nails. Styles worked with Alessandro and his personal stylist, Harry Lambert, to come up with this outfit.
“He just has fun with clothing, and that’s kind of where I’ve got it from… He doesn’t take it too seriously which means I don’t take it too seriously,” Styles said about Lambert in his Vogue article.
Lambert, as well as rockstars Prince, David Bowie, Freddie Mercury and Elton John, is one of Styles’ main inspirations.
Natalie Williams, junior at Central Hardin, says, “Prince, Elton John, Freddy Mercury were all people who broke gender fashion norms as well and inspired the offshoots of glam rock that continue into today. Other male celebrities that have worn dresses include Kurt Cobain, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Marc Jacobs, just as a few examples. Men dressing ‘feminine’ is not a new occurrence, nor is there anything wrong with it.”
As she said, nothing about this is new. Men have been dressing feminine for as long as you could imagine; tracing all the way back to the 17th century, with King Louis XIV tending to have a more feminine wardrobe.
Later within the interview, we gain an understanding of what fashion means to Harry Styles. We learn from him that fashion is all about having fun, creating something, and expressing yourself. One of the most inspiring things about Styles and his outfit choices is what he is representing. People often get upset seeing a man wear women’s clothing as he does, but that isn’t even a factor for this popstar.
“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. There’s so much joy to be had in playing with clothes. I’ve never really thought too much about what it means—it just becomes this extended part of creating something,” Styles continues in Vogue.
When the concept of style is influenced by clothing gender stereotypes, boundaries are set. Self-expression and creativity are limited. What gender norms do is take people’s personal styles, self-expression, and creativity, and place them in a box. A box that says “you can’t do this” and “you can’t do that”. Toxic masculinity coincides with that as well, making men feel as if they should be “manly” and show no feminine side.
An anonymous response from the poll states, “Clothes don’t define gender, just because a boy wants to wear ‘women’s clothing’ doesn’t make him less of a man and the other way around. People should be able to wear whatever they want without others having to put a label on it.”
If you’re wanting to explore different types of clothing, wanting to switch up your style a bit, this is your sign to do it! Don’t let fear of other people’s judgement hold you back. Be yourself and wear what you want.