Dresses. Wigs. High heels. When people hear these words, they typically only associate those entities with the female gender. S.E. Smith, a Northern California-based writer and journalist, mentions how clothing has typically been viewed as binary in nature, which creates obstacles for nonbinary people. “Any clothing we could choose to wear is going to be inevitably gendered” (Smith, 2011). In recent years, fashion has evolved in a way that redefines masculinity and femininity.
The introduction of unisex or gender-neutral clothes has made people, regardless of their gender identity, feel more accepted. The Phluid Project, a gender-free brand, found from preexisting statistics that 38% of Generation Z (those ages 7 to 22 years old) and 27% of millennials (those ages 23 to 38) strongly feel that people are no longer defined by their gender. Christina Zervanos, the head of Public Relations of the Phluid Project, says, “These generations are the future of retail” (Alnuweiri, 2018).
Numerous fashion brands have created clothes that go beyond the binary box. Alexandre Mattiussi, founder and designer of the formerly menswear store AMI, was impressed when he observed that women were able to pull off his designs as equally as men. Mattiussi recalls, “AMI was always designed for men initially, but then women started picking up pieces and girls became an official part of the AMI story” (Mcalpine, 2018). Mattiussi now includes clothes in his brand that are not tailored towards a specific gender.
Writer, performer, and filmmaker Amrou Al Kadhi, who identifies as non-binary, believes that experimenting with clothes allowed them to appease their gender dysphoria. Kadhi, whose sex assigned at birth is male, remembers testing women’s clothing and alternative clothing styles (clothes that are not often seen in mainstream media) when they were 19 years old. Initially, they would put on make-up and dress in drag to seek validation from society. Now, Kadhi realizes that they do not need society’s approval for their gender identity. “I am not a man on the inside. My non-binary identity is true, regardless of what I’m wearing. Whether or not I experiment with female clothes, I am now at peace with my internal truth of my gender identity without needing the external world to validate this state for me” (Rasmussen, 2019).
Pharrell Williams, an American singer and fashion designer, is an example of someone who is blurring the gender lines of fashion. He believes that there are no rules when it comes to wearing an article of clothing. Although Williams admits that he won’t wear a skirt or blouse, he’s not afraid to wear other clothes tailored towards women, if he feels it’ll look good on him. “The new masculinity is having the willingness to just live and let live. When you listen to yourself and you’re comfortable in who you are, you wear what you feel like fits and looks right on you” (Welch, 2019).
While people are feeling more accepted, discrimination still persists. Williams currently believes that the world we live in is in a state of spiritual warfare because transgender people feel a disconnection between their bodies and their spirits (Welch, 2019). We should not have to live in a world where nonbinary people have to justify how they feel. Having concepts such as nonbinary clothes is important because it allows everyone to feel comfortable in their own bodies. Dresses, suits, or any article of clothing should not be restricted to one gender. Everyone deserves to feel free and beautiful without judgement.
Alnuweiri, T. (2018). When it comes to gender, for a growing number of fashion brands, the feeling is neutral. Retrieved from https://www.wellandgood.com/good-looks/gender-neutral-fashion/
Smith, S. E. (2011). Beyond the binary: What to wear, what to wear. Retrieved from http://meloukhia.net/2011/06/beyond_the_binary_what_to_wear_what_to_wear/?fbclid=IwAR3wcSLSSfKEZLaT8AuBX7C4CM8xWwfH4vVfzNUih88laVQxx40fFvxl3HE
Mcalpine, S. (2018). Androgyny isn’t a woman wearing trousers. Retrieved from https://www.elle.com/uk/fashion/trends/a20659936/androgyny-isnt-a-woman-wearing-trousers/
Rasmussen, T. (2019). Eight trans and non-binary people on personal style. https://www.cnn.com/style/article/trans-non-binary-style-dazed-digital/index.html
Welch, W. (2019). Pharrell on evolving masculinity and “spiritual warfare.” Retrieved from https://www.gq.com/story/pharrell-new-masculinity-cover-interview