Written by: Maria Perez & Mackenzie Johnson
Today, we are taking a look at how people are breaking the cycle of gender roles and we explore the tardiness of gender fluidity in fashion.
The idea of gender is rather limiting, when focusing on personal expression through various means of dress, music, leisure activities, and what embodies one’s identity. Whether one may be fashion forward or not, it affects and is a part of everyone’s daily life. Dress codes are embedded into our everyday life.Theres a favored fashion for everything; no matter if you’re having a lazy day in, a crazy night out, attending an important business meeting, or going to class.
For as long as we can remember, there has been a great divide in regards to who should wear what, and what is acceptable for men versus women to wear. This divide starts young, before one is even born. For most, baby showers are the first thing that puts a label on us. Often divided by theme: a pink color scheme refers to having a girl, whereas a blue color scheme equates to having a boy. People are born into the world with preconceived notions that they should only be identified with certain colors. We are not pink or blue.
Although it has been long normalized for women to wear men’s garments, and many items males wear are gender neutral now [hoodies, pants, shorts, suits], men have had a particularly hard time being accepted by society when trying to morph and explore feminine fashions. While many look to celebrities for fashion inspiration, some including Asap Rocky, Young Thug, and Jaden Smith who have been able to cement their place in the fashion world, they often have received backlash for trying to break gender barriers in stardom. At times, some stars, like Jaden Smith have even had to defend their fashion choices to the public.
Feminine male fashion dates back as to the early 1st Century. When based on hierarchy, wealthier men (Kings such as King Louis XVI) wore garments such as ‘tights, wings, and form fitted clothing’. One may associate this with women’s wear but the silhouette for men was as tight fitting as it was for women. Going forward, throughout our historical timeline; some may say we have even gone backwards because of the relationship between men and more baggy clothing–in terms of this we have formed an attachment. Some of the other popular earlier faces to go against gender norms include David Bowie, whose character wore makeup and eyeliner, wearing long hairstyles and high heels. We see a lot of feminine influence with these celebrities and historical figures, but the world gets just that smaller as this starts to inform our peers and friends. Many of whom may have been inspired from these past figures. You may see a friend wear makeup, dresses, etc, on Instagram now. A new reoccurring trend is ‘Fem Boy Friday,’ where boys try to explore feminine fashions and morph themselves into their own styles. Still many have regarded this as nothing more than a trend and a means to attain female admiration. And whether this is 100% true or not is another conversation but the truth remains that this bridges a path towards normalization, gnawing at the constructs of gender.
Fashion influences extend only as far as it can reach an audience. Unlike any other generation, we are the first to grow up with social media. By the time we were in middle school we used Instagram, Snapchat, and Youtube fluently. Our phones were our second language. Prior to the growing rise of social media, there was a lack of understanding and identifying with certain styles and subcultures outside of your own bubble. Most style subcultures happened to be differentiated simply based on ethnicity and demographic. We can attest to and thank forums we’ve grown up with such as Instagram, Tik Tok, and Youtube [to name a few] to help us explore what our style is as opposed to growing with something that is only a manifestation of external as opposed to internal influences. It seems unimaginable to think about how different our lives would be if we had not grown up with our phones surgically attached to our hands. Would our whole way of viewing the world, and ourselves be different? Would we be as open minded as we are, or would we not have the opportunities to learn about each other’s differences?
As new generations try to push the barriers of fluidity in fashion, it is becoming more acceptable to see what once was the unacceptable. Many young people are not only willing to accept and embrace the new fashion, but are eager to explore their personal style as well. Not only are we seeing the transformation of the fashion world online; we see it in real life, and on a personal level. You may see that your guy best friend started painting his nails or wearing makeup and get inspiration from him instead of seeing it on a celebrity or through the media.
As these out-of-date and timeworn ideals that we’ve been chained to our entire lives begin to diminish, it has became a trend to participate. Music artists like Asap Rocky, Playboy Carti, Machine Gun Kelly, and more have been seen with their nails painted with various designs and also wearing feminine jewelry such as pearl necklaces, and large colored diamonds and gemstones, which in the past was not the norm. Instagram influencers and models such as @thesethwilliams, @ziggymackjohnson, and others can be seen making statements wearing skirts and crop tops. Retailers and stores are also hopping on this trend, with lots of popularity moving towards genderless and gender accepting brands as well as on the runway. The Phluid Project being one, they promote genderless collections thus fostering a sense of education and community. The gender neutral fashion movement is not only becoming a personal style for some, but is an activist movement that will go down in fashion history. Not everyone may be in favor of the progressive change currently happening in the fashion industry, but many are ready to learn and step out of their comfort zones.
So what steps can we take to not only adapt and create our own styles but embrace that of others? Explore and accept. Just when we think we might know all there is to style and fashion, we don’t. Fashion is always changing and evolving, you could easily be surprised to see what other looks and styles might be trending or fitting to you! Social media has greatly allowed for the acceptance of stylistic exploration, and it is up to Gen Z and following generations to normalize exploration and embrace it. Self acceptance and expression is the main goal of style. When people learn to be confident in the way they dress and portray themselves, others will follow suit. So next time you see a questionable piece you’ve been eyeing, order it because it might be your new favorite.
Henry Adaso. Male Rappers in Women’s Clothing. LiveAbout.
Chioma Nnadi. This Was the Decade That Hip-Hop Style Got Femme. Vogue.
Megan C. Hills. Why #FemboyFriday is more than just a trend. Evening Standard.
KATI CHITRAKORN. Men Are Changing. Are Brands Keeping Up? Business of Fashion.