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Why Gender-Fluid Fashion Is An Identity, Not A Trend

From Harry Styles, Lil Nas X, to Kristen Stewart and more, see the people proving that gender fluid fashion is more than just a fashion statement

Whether consciously or not, the clothing we choose to slip into everyday is never without a piece of ourselves. 

Identity has consistently proven itself integral in the world of clothing, especially in the realm of gender-fluid fashion. Fluidity and nonconformity to traditional gender norms have been continuously pushed forward in order to celebrate the never ending spectrum of individuality. This is why the steady rise in gender-fluid fashion isn’t merely a trend nor a theme, it is an evolution towards a society that fosters all types of people without stigma.

While social media has become an outlet that’s able to blur the longstanding dichotomy of masculine and feminine allowing gender-fluid fashion to make its way to mainstream audiences, it is important to realize that gender-inclusive dressing did not start existing only recently. Embedded throughout the bits and pieces of history are people, cultures, and instances that show how the way clothing is worn has been experimented on for not only decades, but centuries. 

Time and time again, different groups in society have changed how gender roles are manifested through clothing. Going as far back as ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, skirted clothing, such as the toga, was worn by everyone regardless of gender. Ancient Egyptians were also found to wear makeup as a symbol of wealth as early as 4000 BCE. In 10th century Persia, wealthy men began wearing heels, which the Europeans adopted later on.

It wasn’t until the 17th to 19th century when the visibly gendered fashion we are most familiar with started. The way a person dressed no longer solely exhibited their wealth and class, but also reflected their gender. However, even when a gendered division in fashion arose, people still found a way to reshape it. 

Freddie Mercury | Photo from Perspex

In the realms of pop culture, when the likes of David Bowie and Freddie Mercury took to the stage, they opened the doors to a world that bent and blurred gender in clothing. They inspired the world as they dressed in vibrant prints, bright-colored fabrics, and outlandish silhouettes. With men having examples such as them to look to, women had icons, such as Annie Lennox and Winona Ryder. Annie Lennox would look bold and daring in her colorful suits, while Winona was the pinnacle of grunge tomboyish allure.

We must also not forget drag’s discernable impact on gender-fluid clothing. Drag has been a trailblazer for breaking heteronormative standards in fashion for the longest time. Today we have RuPaul, but in the 1970s and 1980s there was Marsha P. Johnson who was a performer and activist that blended together masculine and feminine clothing while standing at the forefront of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Marsha P. Johnson | Photo from New York Times
Rupaul | Photo from Emmys

Luckily for us, the 2020s have been flooded with artists and individuals who are definitely not afraid to dress not as how society expects them to, but freely as themselves. 

Harry Styles is one of the most well-known faces of gender-bending fashion with his flurry of outfits from pearls, to exaggerated sleeves, to an assortment of skirts and gowns. Harry has been pushing his style limits by going from his iconic Gucci suits to high-waisted trousers, leotards, and even a Dorothy costume. However, we must remember that he isn’t the only male artist who forwards non-gendered dressing. 

Harry Styles | Photo from GQ
Lil Nas X is known for his structured clothing made with the most vivid colors and extravagant embellishments, not to mention his array of hats and headdresses. For the 2021 Met Gala this star made an appearance in a regal Versace cape, then later on in a full on golden armor suit.
Lil Nas X | Photo from @lilnasx on Instagram
We also have Billy Porter who never ceases to appear stunning in layered gowns and well-tailored suits that look as though they were made in the heavens. Billy Porter has never failed to challenge the boundaries of fashion, as shown in his many outfits, such as his tuxedo gown and blue glittery red carpet look that dripped with silver fringe.
Billy Porter | Photo from Getty Images

Like Katharine Hepburn in the 1930s, many modern day women have been rocking menswear looks as though it was second nature to them. Cate Blanchett, Victoria Beckham, and Zendaya have been recognized for their tendencies to rock unique and well-structured suits, just like Zendaya’s sleek look from the Oscars 2022 after-party. Androgynous representation is also known to be found in the stylish ensembles comprised of cool laidback silhouettes worn by Kristen Stewart. 

Kirsten Stewart | Photo from Just Jared

Not only are people going with the flow on the wave leading to unified fashion, brands and designers have started leaning towards unisex and gender-neutral collections as well. Harris Reed showed his Mise en Scène collection at London Fashion Week, which was composed of exaggerated and deconstructed looks meant for a fluid society. On the runway we also saw how Miu Miu’s iconic ballet flats could also be worn by men. In the Philippines we have the likes of Kyle Cruz and Jessan Macatangay paving the way towards fluidity in Philippine fashion.

Overall, we can expect to see a shower of looks that reflect more of an individual’s personality and flare rather than what’s expected from them. The world of fashion is moving onwards to a time wherein the practice of dressing solely for ourselves must be embraced. Though traditional gender norms are still the custom in today’s society, time will show that self-expression and fluidity in fashion is definitely the way to go.

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