Rethinking Gender in Fashion

Many of today’s trends in female fashion take inspiration from male fashion staples. Women today often accessorize with gear ranging from blazers to ties; men’s fashion has also taken a leaf out of the women’s fashion book (or should I say catalogue) and begun to incorporate pieces such as cardigans into fashion as well. Fashion has transformed immensely in the last several decades. If one examines the evolution of fashion, especially for women, one can see a distinct trend in the female fashion from earlier centuries to now. Women from previous decades tended to wear clothing that emphasized their frailty and femininity. For example, women in the 1800’s often wore billowing, flowing gowns that covered them entirely and empathized their petite waists. As fashion progresses into the 1950’s onward, dresses become shorter, but still aimed toward emphasizing the petite waist and slender body of the woman, clothing designed to make her look small and fragile. Barely in the early 1900’s did women take a major step in embracing men’s fashion by beginning to wear pants, clothing that allowed one to move freely and had practical components such as pockets. One can attribute this sartorial phenomenon to a larger societal expectation that women seem small and weak to highlight the hulk and dominance of men.  Even today, many fashion pieces tailored toward women are designed to emphasize slimness and cast women as insignificant and taking up little space; these fashions are supported by the fact that they come in ridiculously small sizes and are showcased by even smaller models.

Despite sartorial restrictions, women’s fashion continues to boldly incorporate men’s pieces into itself, heralding a new era of fashion in which gender norms that are prescribed through clothing can be transcended. As more and more designers incorporate fashion pieces delegated to one gender into the fashion of others, genderless clothing is becoming popular, allowing for the distribution of clothing that counts for genders beyond those described through the gender binary. This fashion trend also allows for women to break away from the prescribed perceptions of the female gender as being frail, allowing them to be unrestricted by the shapely or small-sized clothing traditionally ascribed to them.

Based on current strides in modern fashion, it seems that fashion for all genders will continue to move toward becoming genderless, allowing individuals to wear clothing that truly suits their taste rather than to feel pressured to wear the pieces that society demands. As these sartorial strides continue, a corresponding increase in the amount of plus-size and non gender binary-conforming models will likely also develop. Such strides are necessary to move toward the truly egalitarian, non-prejudiced utopia that America can only hope to be one day.

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