Fashion, a word here that can be defined as “a popular trend, especially in styles of dress and ornaments and manner of behavior.” Fashion can also be defined here as wearable art, and just like art, fashion is a place where individuals are free to express themselves, push boundaries, and to redefine what is “normal.” That last part however is sometimes over looked. People like to believe that they are accepting of the world that we live in and the art that it produces. However, when people see a man walking down the street in a dress or wearing makeup or a woman seeming a little too masculine for comfort, we are quick to judge them. But why is this? Is it that the general public is threatened by these individuals? What does the public have to lose by an individual not conforming to one specific gender? The idea of gender fluidity has been taking over the fashion world in the last decade but what took so long? To best understand this complex idea of gender fluidity let’s break this concept down into three simple questions.
What really is “normal?”
When you think of the idea of normal, what do you think of? Your childhood home with a big yard and a picket fence? A yellow school bus that arrived promptly at 7:45 a.m.? Or the annual family vacay that somehow was always too short? To specifically define what is normal is a difficult question because one person’s idea of normal may not be the same as someone else’s. This is because what we consider normal is a social construct. The entire reason behind why you think eating dinner every night at 6 p.m. is normal is because that is what you were told. What we think is normal is a learned behavior. One hundred years ago what was considered normal was that women were not allowed to vote, and segregation was legal. The idea of what is normal is an everchanging concept. The world evolves for the better as people do. So why does this idea stop with the kind of clothes we wear? Just because you don’t consider a man wearing a dress to be “normal” does not make it wrong.
What is the definition of gender fluidity?
To clarify what gender fluidity means, refer to this definition by the Webster Dictionary; “Genderqueer: Genderqueer is a term that is growing in usage, representing a blurring of the lines surrounding society’s rigid views of gender identity. Genderqueer people embrace a fluidity of gender expression that is not limiting. Being gender fluid has nothing to do with the persons genitalia or sexuality.” Being gender fluid is a mix of boy and girl. One day a gender fluid individual may feel more boy and feel more girl the next. In regard to fashion what does this mean? In a general sense gender fluid clothing would be articles of clothing or outfits that do not adhere to a specific gender. This idea of gender fluidity first came to terms as the idea of being androgynous. Androgyny has been a part of the fashion world for many years now and as with most revolutionary fashion ideas, androgyny started in couture and high fashion and worked its way down to street wear and department stores. However, androgynous fashion has usually only been acceptable for women and not men.
How does gender fluidity affect fashion?
Thanks to progressive movements in social acceptance, gender fluidity is taking over both womenswear and menswear. At the beginning of every movement the large majority will disagree with change. It has now been long enough that gender fluidity is beginning to be accepted. It has trickled down from the high fashion runways and made its way to the streets of the western metropolitan world. Like most social revolutions, the gender fluid movement was moved forward by social influencers like Jaden Smith, Nico Tortorella, and Lady GaGa. The idea of gender fluid collections and gendered clothing was challenged on the runways this past season with collections from Jeremy Scott that featured men in sheer tops and feathered fascinators and androgynous collections from well-known designers such as Calvin Klein and Raf Simons. From the runways the idea of gender fluidity progressed into advertisements when Jaden Smith modeled women’s clothing for Louis Vuitton. Once the world saw men’s and women’s clothing so close together it opened the question, “What is so different about men’s and women’s clothing?” The world of fashion is an everchanging group of ideas and due to social change, one of those ideas is now gender fluidity. When it comes down to it, there is always going to be a push back on change, there is always going to be a new normal. Who knows, in 25 years ever man could be wearing a dress to work. The movement of gender fluidity is taking the world by storm. We live in a time of self-expression and non-conformity that has allowed individuals to be done with gender and now all we can do is see where this movement takes us.