When Harry Styles appeared on the cover of Vogue in a pale blue Gucci dress, he almost broke the internet. While this was not revolutionary, it did bring into question our societal views on masculinity and femininity and how it is portrayed within the fashion industry. The conversation surrounding gender-fluid fashion is not new, but Vogue’s bold move of displaying it on their cover lit a spark that will not be put out.
While I do not necessarily think that we should be celebrating a cis white man for doing something that non-binary people do every day, I think it is important to recognize how Harry Styles’ feature in Vogue has furthered the conversation about gender-fluid fashion. The LGBTQ community risks their lives every day in order to defy society’s gender norms and express their true identities. If it takes a cis white man to help bring awareness to their struggles, then I believe it is the right thing to do. We have seen a recent surge of celebrities bring light to the gender-fluid fashion movement over the past decade and it is important to keep the momentum. Stars like Jaden Smith, Ezra Miller, Sam Smith, Janelle Monáe and Billy Porter are only a few examples of celebrities at the forefront of this movement.
We are in a wonderful era where conversations surrounding gender constructs are finally being held and it is important that fashion trends reflect this. We know that gender is a spectrum, so fashion should be too. With this awareness comes a social sensitivity to those who experience gender-fluid fashion as a lifestyle and not a trend. When talking about gender in terms of fashion it is important to recognize the difference between neutrality and fluidity. Gender-neutral fashion ignores gender, instead of embracing the beautiful complexities that gender has to offer. We should not be masking sexuality and gender orientation with boxy, unflattering, neutral clothes. Instead, we need to create a society where people can express who they are through their clothing choices.
While it is true that haute couture has been defying gender norms for some time, we are finally beginning to see a society that will accept this as mainstream. Imagine how it would feel to walk into a clothing store and not have a “boys” or “girls” section. The lack of gender division would provide so much freedom to those who feel confined by societal gender norms. The fear of being seen shopping in the section that society has decided you shouldn’t be shopping in will be erased and people can browse the clothes that make them feel empowered. Not only will this provide freedom and safety to those who identify as gender-fluid, but it will also normalize the concept of gender-fluid fashion for those who are still uncomfortable with the idea.
Overall, like most things in society, fashion is evolving, whether we are ready for it or not. Gender-fluid fashion has been on the rise for the last decade and after Harry Styles’ Vogue cover, we are seeing more and more of it becoming mainstream. While this is moving in the right direction, it is up to us as a society to be more accepting and encouraging of the idea of gender-fluid fashion to keep this momentum going.