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Why Men Wearing Dresses Really isn’t a Big Deal

If you follow Harry Styles on social media, then you’ve probably seen his iconic Vogue cover that came out a couple of weeks ago. Although amazing, one specific feature of the cover caught the attention of many and sparked debate. On the cover, Harry wore a beautiful, light blue, ruffled dress with a black jacket over top. He looked great, but some people questioned the outfit choice and wondered if it was appropriate for a man to be wearing. One American politician even criticized it, tweeting “bring back manly men.” This implies that just because Harry was wearing a dress, he isn’t manly. Now, if you know anything about Harry Styles, you know that this kind of fashion isn’t out of character. He has been known to express himself in bold ways, showing off some of the flashiest outfits on his world tours. He doesn’t hold back when it comes to fashion. So why did this Vogue cover spark so much debate? All in all, Harry’s Vogue cover helped to bring awareness to some key issues that have been ingrained in society for years, one of which being gender norms.

Gender norms have always been constructed in a specific way. People believe that certain genders should act and dress a certain way, while others should act and dress a different way. Women are associated with more “feminine” types of clothing, such as dresses and skirts, whereas men are associated with more “masculine” types of clothing, like shirts and pants. It has become more and more acceptable for women to wear shirts and pants, but it’s still quite the taboo topic when it comes to men wearing dresses and skirts. Society has come so far, but after Harry’s Vogue cover came out, there were still comments about his dress, showing society hasn’t gone far enough. The reason behind this has to relate to the fact that Harry appeared on one of the most well-known fashion magazines in the world, Vogue. Harry gained so much exposure from the magazine that people who hadn’t seen his typical fashion style before decided to weigh in and voice their opinions. As I talked about above, one comment even mentioned that society needs to “bring back manly men.” But what does this comment even mean?

I think it’s important to ask some questions before answering this. What makes a man manly? Is it his freedom and desire to express himself as he truly is? Or does the word simply describe a stereotypical vision of how men should act and dress? In all honestly, “manliness” isn’t a big deal. Society shouldn’t judge a man (or anybody else for that matter) for the way they want to express themselves. Over the years, gender norms and stereotypes have been broken down and pushed aside by the younger generations. But for some reason, some still believe that gender norms need to be strictly followed in order to maintain a “perfect” society.

In my opinion, men wearing dresses isn’t a big deal. I kind of love seeing when men wear feminine clothes; it’s almost as if it’s their way to speak out against gender norms and the toxic traits that they possess, or have possessed, in our society.

Everyone should be allowed to express themselves freely and identify the way they want to. There should be no unspoken rules that determine how someone acts or dresses. This topic doesn’t just apply to men, it applies to women too! It’s important to understand that both men and women are breaking down the barriers involved with strict gender norms every day and unfortunately, not everyone is very accepting of it. But one thing that can be taken away from all of this is that freedom of expression can occur in many ways, and people shouldn’t be judged because of it. At the end of the day, these rude comments about Harry’s dress probably aren’t going to stop him because he has the support of millions, but for some individuals, these comments can change everything. As Harry Styles always says, “treat people with kindness.” The easiest way to do this is by allowing people to be themselves.

Alexandra Winter

Wilfrid Laurier '23

Alex is in her third year of kinesiology at Wilfrid Laurier University and is also minoring in psychology. She has been a writer for Her Campus for a year now. Her hobbies include playing sports, listening to Harry Styles music, and rewatching Grey's Anatomy over and over again. She also loves reading! She has a twin sister and 3 amazing pets who she loves very much.
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