Men’s fashion causes controversy as it breaks gender norms, becoming more fluid


Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC

Harry Styles poses for Mary Ellen Matthews photo shoot in 2019.

The Met Gala’s extravagant looks once again defied gender identity in fashion. The theme was “American Independence” and male celebrities like Troye Sivan, Pete Davidson, Kid Cudi and others displayed their American freedom by donning dresses, quilts, skirts and other feminine-inspired accessories. 

The continued trend from the 2019 Met Gala, that included names like Odell Beckham, Jr. wearing a skirt, showed that we still have a long ways to go until we reach inclusivity without judgement.

Harry Styles has been instrumental in breaking the barrier and stigma of viewing this subject as anything other than a way to be creative and expressive through clothes. In 2020, Styles became the first solo man to appear on the cover of Vogue, all while gracefully showing off a Gucci designed ball gown

The cover quickly ignited arguments online on whether or not it is socially acceptable for men to wear clothes “designed” for women. Conservative commentator Candace Owens, took to the forefront of the argument by stating on social media that the manliness of our nation was being compromised by such progressiveness and fabricated the movement to “bring back manlier men.” 

Styles responded to this with an instagram post and went on to speak out against the push-back of wearing feminine clothes. “To not wear [something] because it’s females’ clothing, you shut out a whole world of great clothes,” Styles said in an interview with Variety

Style’s fashion agenda continues to prove to society that men can look great in anything. While it’s simple to think that clothes shouldn’t provoke such negativity, there is still much to do to reverse the social norm.

The singer isn’t alone in pioneering colorful, feminine styles in fashion. Other artists are finally starting to explore the expansive freedom that comes with a gender-less fashion sense. Rappers like Lil Uzi Vert, Playboi Carti and Young Thug have immensely helped de-stigmatize such choices in a community where things like fashion are stubbornly seen as taboo. 

All three artists have been known for developing a unique fashion style with unconventional looks that would have been rejected in the past. “In my world, you can be a gangsta with a dress or you can be a gangsta with baggy pants. I feel like there’s no such thing as gender,”  Young Thug said in a Calvin Klein campaign video.

While the media has kept the topic in the spotlight and public reaction seems to be positive, people are still vocal about their unacceptance of a society where men are able to wear whatever they want. A lot of it stems from homophobia and insecurity, and much of the backlash comes from outdated thinking that doing something like this takes away from the “manliness” of a man; but there is nothing manly about being put in a state of discomfort by a simple fashion choice. 

We need to stop looking at clothes and fashion from the lens of prehistoric gender perspectives. From Heavy Metal, to Dennis Rodman, David Bowie and Prince, nail painting, makeup and colorful dresses have always been a part of the male fashion sense and originality. In an industry where expression and exclamation are key, why put such a limit on yourself?