NOTE: "Gender neutral" is the term I will use to describe this concept. There are other terms such as "genderqueer" and "gender fluid" to describe this topic.
--- Gender Neutrality in Fashion ---Let me tell you a little story to get this post started. There was once an individual on LOOKBOOK who was very interesting to me. He was a fellow who had a very interesting sort of style. He felt as comfortable wearing feminine clothes as he was with more masculine (if you will) pieces. Later, I began to admire his style all the further. This fellow's name was Elliott Alexzander, and he runs the blog House of Alexzander to showcase his style with a variety of different outfits. He is popular these days for his "Gender Flux" project that has become very popular among the LGBT community. Most of what makes Elliott Alexzander so charming in looks is how easily he pulls off various outfits. Let us just say that he looks entirely passable the way he wears certain outfits and how he looks doing various photo shoots. Elliott can confidently wear a pair of short shorts, a dress, some bell bottom jeans, or a cute flared skirt along with some platform lace-up booties or some girly sandals. He has his own fashion style, but his figure looks amazing to almost seamlessly wear such clothing with confidence and charm.
If fashion teaches us anything, it is that there are suggestions towards fashion choices, but never strict guidelines. How someone chooses to dress is the choice of that person and that person alone. Not every male dresses handsomely enough to win the heart of a single female. Not every female dresses cute to turn the heads of males. In fact, there are some males and females who respectively dress feminine and masculine. I've seen (I'm being honest) males who pull off certain feminine outfits that most average females would look cute/sexy in. I've also seen females who look and dress so boyishly that you easily pass them for boys. No matter where your fashion preferences and tastes lie, fashion is an opportunity and an outlet to look however you please no matter what anyone thinks.
There is one thing I tend to think of sometimes in regards to gender neutral fashion, and this may be a very valid point. What if there comes a time when there are no clothes available, and there are only clothes offered are of one gender? Like if boys who need to be clothed had to wear girls clothes (or girls wearing boys clothes)? Should we all be thankful there are clothes to wear even if they aren't made for your gender? Or should we feel bad we're wearing clothing from the gender opposite of our birth gender? Something like gender neutrality could even come down to "in case of emergency" in the future. This, too, can become a valid argument in pushing for gender neutral fashion.
Fashion and Gender Equality.There may never be a time where certain outfits and styles are accepted equally among males and females. Like there may not be a time where a male could go to the women's section at a major retailer and buy an asymmetrical floral skirt and be accepted fully for it. There may not be a time where a male could possibly look as amazing in a sassy pair of high heels as any average female. Perhaps the biggest prejudice and double standard in fashion is that most females can get away with all these boyfriend looks and stuff, but most males wanting to showcase some feminine-style chic have to go through all of these different gender stereotypes and such. There are males who wear kilts, but what if males want to wear the same pretty skirts (or even dresses) females wear? If a male wants to dress up in such a way and if he can pull off looks so well, why limit his fashion choices if he's comfortable wearing such clothes? If a female feels more comfortable looking boyish and dressing boyish (even if she can fully pass for a boy), why limit her fashion choices?
In addition to the number of males who dress femininely or at least in feminine type clothing and outfits, you have a number of males who even take gender neutrality into the realm of beauty. You have a handful of males who are makeup artists (MUA's). Fashion in this sense is not necessarily about wearing clothes made for one's other gender, but feeling confident in your looks and your style. I'm going to be honest with you- I've seen some males in feminine clothing that look as hot or hotter than most genetic females who would wear the same outfit. For example, there are two models I've seen online that are both androgynous males. One of those two is Venezuelan model Dylan Ferrara- a stylish androgynous male who is a deliciously sweet hybrid of masculine muscle and feminine beauty. The other is Brazilian model Jade Alves- an androgynous male with an enticingly feminine body. This speaks to a level of appreciating beauty in all of its forms rather than only be fixated on masculine beauty or feminine beauty. It also includes certain long-haired males I've seen before- including one male whom I known in person to also be the first transgender I ever got to know. Some males have long hair as beautiful as most females. Some males even go around wearing shoes similar to "it" shoes among females, such as the Jeffrey Campbell "Lita" booties (and various "Lita" knockoffs). Could such choices even affect if males maybe want to wear something usually exclusively feminine? Here are some weird things to imagine: imagine a male wearing a cocktail dress on a night out, or even a male who maybe wants to wear some kind of wedding-appropriate dress... even that male wearing a wedding dress himself! Perhaps imagine gender neutrality going to the level of if a male wants to wear a bikini that most females would look cute in? Maybe you're one of the kinky types reading my blog. And in so, imagine some hot lingerie that looks as hot on a male body as almost any female would look hot in!
I may have grossed out some of you out with the las paragraph, but to score the argument for the gender neutral crowd, those who believe in gender neutral fashion want to have the same sort of fashion freedom for both genders rather than have certain pieces exclusive to certain genders. Think about the guys who feel angered that a girl can dress boyish and get little or no backlash for her looks. Then, you'd understand.
Gender Equality, Religion, and Society.For many people, there are many fallacies to the notion of a male wearing feminine-type fashion, and these manners often take on social and even religious connotations. I mentioned earlier that one should not misconstrue fashion in terms of simply wearing clothes and tying them towards any sort of religious or social connotations. You aren't "gay" just because you are a male who wears panties or tights. You are not guaranteed to go to Hell just because you are a male in feminine clothing or a female in masculine clothing. You are simply someone who made certain fashion and style choices different from what most average people would take part in. People, though, usually want to take one's style of dress to levels of social and religious matters in this context.
Gender Neutrality: Video Insight.Here is a video for you in regards to gender neutrality and fashion. Be warned some material may be completely safe for work:
(WARNING: Some bad language)
^ "ALL Clothing is Gender Neutral! Duh."
I had planned on trying to find maybe a second video, but I just wanted to include this one here.
So now you have an idea of what I am trying to discuss here. I mentioned Elliott Alexzander as my inspiration for this blog post, but you can also look to personalities like model Andrej Pejic. That Elliott fellow I have been mentioning? Let me give you a little more insight on him in describing this topic.
--- The Elliott Alexzander Influence ---Elliott Alexzander runs the blog "House of Alexzander." One thing you can learn from this fashion star from the Atlanta, Georgia area is that he is unafraid- and uncaring- of wearing feminine pieces. I would go as far as to say he is the biggest crusader in pushing for gender neutrality, in perhaps more ways than just fashion.
The first time I saw one of his outfits, Elliott was wearing a black dress with some tall black socks and some fierce lace-up booties with metallic cap toes. Some of his later outfits feature him proudly bearing his belly and his legs. There were even a few outfit posts of his where he looks as attractive as any average female. I've respected Elliott Alexzander for his fashion choices and for his own unique style.
Let me share a quote from one outfit post he did on LOOKBOOK:
"I dream of a day when you can walk into a department store and things are organized by color and size instead of Gender."
Here is another quote of his based on the title of one post he did long ago:
"Gender Limits the Mind Let Go and Become Redefined"
And that quote is tied to this LOOKBOOK outfit of his: Gender limits the mind. Let go and become redefined. (LOOKBOOK). Needless to say, this is one individual who believes strongly in fashion being accessible and stylish regardless of gender.
IN CASE YOU'RE INTERESTED: For more on Elliott Alexzander, you can visit his blog at House of Alexzander; or if you have Facebook, you can "like" him at www.facebook.com/houseofalexzander. To see his various outfits on LOOKBOOK, visit Elliott Alexzander's LOOKBOOK page.
Now that I have made mention to all these things, how about we think about what the future may hold for gender neutral fashion? Next section...
--- Gender Neutral Future? ---What future is held for gender neutral style? Here are two schools of thought:
Will Gender Neutral Fashion Be Accepted?Two thoughts are present on this issue- (1) there are females who would shudder at the thought of males in feminine clothing, and (2) there are some males who feel comfortable and stylish wearing feminine clothes. Will there be a time when both genders can dress any way they choose with little or no compromise? What if I wanted to go out one day wearing a long denim jean skirt (or maybe even a maxi dress) and wear a pair of wedge espadrilles or cutout booties? Can I get away with wearing such items and also not get laughed at or looked at strangely? It is impossible at this point to generally be accepted. And who knows? We may never be accepted for certain fashion choices we make.
Will Gender Neutrality Be Accepted Socially?Normally, topics on "StyleSpace by JBM" do not pertain to social and cultural matters because this blog is all about fashion. With that said, a lot of cultures are still VERY far from having this general appreciation of fashion- including ours here in the United States. Remember that we're talking about fashion here. Even still, those ties between fashion and religious/social matters remain prevalent in regards to gender neutrality.
Final thoughts coming up. Get ready.
--- Gender Neutrality in Fashion: Final Thoughts ---No damage can possibly be done to the fashion landscape by being gender neutral. Gender neutrality in fashion speaks to a level of freedom to wear whatever you want as long as you feel comfortable and fashionable. I've seen males look as enticing as any female. I've seen females look boyish either in terms of menswear and boyfriend fashions all the way to completely looking and dressing like a boy. No matter what, fashion entails comfort in dressing and expression. And if those comforts in dressing and expression mean wearing clothing against what is considered average or acceptable, then so be it. You are best served expressing yourself however you choose even if your style choices borderline on dressing outside of your gender.
In other words... you can be a male who doesn't mind flashing your midriff or wearing a chic pair of high heel shoes. Maybe you are a male who loves your body so much with its feminine-like curves, that you decide to show off your body like a girl would- wear midriff-baring tops, wear a pair of high-heels, the like. You can be a female who prefers rather to dress boyish rather than wear girly skirts, dresses, and tops. You may even be a girl who would prefer wearing tough and boyish shoes rather than wearing sexy pumps or pretty sandals. Anyone should be free to express themselves in fashion with little regard to gender or clothing made specifically for a certain gender. You are not automatically a crossdresser/transvestite just because you prefer to dress up as and look like a member of the sex opposite of your birth gender. And of course, there is nothing wrong with being any variation of transgender or intersex or genderqueer.
It still will take a lot of effort to promote and convince people that gender neutral fashion is acceptable on all or almost all levels. Just like how people hold to religious beliefs in the wake of same-sex marriage being legal across all of the United States, there will still be those who will hold to religious and social beliefs in regards to gender neutral fashion. As we say- you can't please everyone. And obviously in this context, you can't convince everyone that a male in high heels and a dress is acceptable.
There may come a point where someone smartly markets gender neutrality to where it becomes acceptable to wear fashion pieces from the opposite gender without being criticized or feeling guilty. Designers may try to create great fashions that look equally stylish for both males and females without compromise. Maybe there will be clothes we can wear that look great for both genders without being exclusively masculine or exclusively feminine. Or there may be a point where clothes are at a premium and guys may have to wear girls clothes and girls may have to wear guys clothes.
Gender neutrality in fashion is doable, but whether or not it becomes an acceptable reality remains to be seen. At least, to me.
This was a lot of reading indeed, but a lot of this is very true and factual. I've expressed my opinions. Now it's your turn (if you wish to speak your mind)...
Do you think gender neutrality will become reality? Will gender neutrality be acceptable socially and/or religiously? Could designers even embrace gender neutrality and make great fashions for males AND females rather than styles exclusive to one or the other?
Just so you know, I am planning on releasing a future blog post to "StyleSpace by JBM" regarding unisex fashion. That will further carry on the topic matters discussed in this blog post. So stay tuned to this blog for more on this topic and in related topics. Thank you for reading! Take care and be well.
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