What Role Does Gender Play In Fashion?
Have you ever seen a clothing item that you loved but chose not to buy because it was in the women’s section of the store? You shouldn’t feel ashamed or embarrassed by wearing what you want. Fashion is about making a statement and is an expression of who you are. Today we will explore how gender roles play a part in the fashion industry and how it has evolved.
Who is to say how we should look?
Back in ancient times such as Rome, men and women wore essentially the same thing. Their tunics were made of the same kind of material. A loom was how clothes were made back then, so the silhouette was rectangular for the most part. The only difference was the fact that men had tunics cut at knee length and women wore tunics that fell down to their ankles. Western civilization and the way clothing was designed transformed fashion dramatically by the 1600s and 1700s. In high society, men were seen as sophisticated wearing their suits, button up vests, and trousers and women were encouraged to show off their womanly figures in tight corsets in ornate floor-length gowns. One could say that the stereotypes of what men and women should wear began around that time.
What or who defines what we wear?
Traditionally there have been lines of women’s and men’s clothing specifically geared toward each gender. Part of this reason is because for years society has told us what is appropriate for women to wear and what is appropriate for men to wear. Starting in the United States around the 1940s, colors were even becoming a factor. For example, colors such as pink were viewed as “feminine” so many people started to think negatively of parents if they dressed their little boys in pink clothing. For years cross dressing was scandalous in schools that required children to wear uniforms. Girls wore skirts and boys wore pants, it was simply that way largely due to stereotypes. However, we are slowly seeing a trend where more and more designers are shifting towards gender fluidity in fashion.
Gender fluidity is becoming more acceptable.
It is a fact that men’s bodies are different from women’s bodies. Women tend to have wider hips and curvier figures than men do. Because of this, it can be tricky to sell and design gender neutral clothing that can fit both sexes. There are a few brands out there that do focus on gender neutral clothes. One in particular is a South Korean brand called Agender. They are a newer company, only established since 2017. Their clothing line mainly consists of comfortable and oversized silhouettes that can fit anyone’s body. Another example can be seen in the British company Toogood which focuses on selling clothes with a neutral color palette to fit anyone’s personality and style. The brand 69 is taking yet a different approach featuring relaxed and deconstructed silhouettes in their denim clothes depicting the 1990s style.
Self expression is the foundation of fashion
Some celebrities are proving that stereotypes don’t matter. Take Harry Styles for example. He doesn’t care what everyone else thinks because he consistently wears what he wants to wear. His style is anything but boring because he wears just about everything from floral jackets to pearl necklaces these days. He is proud of the way he decides to dress and present himself, which is an attribute that makes him stand out. Jaden Smith is another great example because he often shows up at red carpet events in dresses, skirts, and heels. He is also one of those celebrities that wears what they want to because they simply want to. We’re certain that nobody is going to convince him otherwise.
What is masculinity in fashion?
The fashion world is starting to eliminate the idea of masculinity and femininity in clothing. They are realizing that men and women should be able to wear whatever they want. Both genders having the freedom to wear anything makes fashion boundaries limitless. Back in 2017, a popular and affordable brand, H&M, released a nineteen-piece unisex collection called Denim United. It was a big hit and helped push the boundaries of what men or women “should” wear. John Lewis, one of the most well known department stores in the UK has also eliminated tags and divisions between the boys and girls clothing sections. Now all boys and girls clothing is in one area so that kids can decide for themselves which clothes they want to wear. This is helping future generations not think about stereotypes and opens up new ideas regarding the way they dress.
Is masculine and feminine a thing of the past in fashion?
We hope you enjoyed learning more about the role that gender plays in fashion. Gender neutral and gender fluid trends are becoming more prevalent among designers which is helping eliminate the strict stereotypes found in traditional men’s and women’s fashion. We encourage you to try new outfits even if they are traditionally thought of as “feminine”. Fashion is about you, and you have every right to express yourself fully in the way you choose to dress.