Breaking Gender Stereotypes With Clothing
If you identify as a woman—have you tried wearing men’s clothing?
As women, we complain a lot about how fashion designers often favor men. It is evident that male racks at department stores and boutique shops sometimes seem to cater to their male customers with a broad range of options, while the woman’s rack is sparse and neglected.
Men aren’t judged for dressing in comfortable clothing, like sweats or baggy t-shirts. And why is clothing even divided into “for men” and “for women,” anyway?
Nothing is stopping us from shopping in the mens’ section. We understand and can appreciate that you may feel a little uncomfortable trying on mens’ clothing. If you’re not used to the way you look in an outfit designed for a man, or if you don’t love the types of fashion designed for men, you might feel a little out-of-place. This is normal.
However, if you’ve been toying with the idea of wearing mens’ clothing, we think you should go for it! Yes, it might feel a little funny at first. But the freedom (and the pockets!) are worth the risk of trying something new.
Here are five things that change when women wear men’s clothing:
Can someone tell us when it became acceptable to sew womens’ pockets shut? Really. We all have things to carry and tote around. Everyone, no matter their gender identity, carries around a few essentials. Keys. Wallet. Phone. Not everyone wants to tote around a purse all day. Why are pockets limited to the mens’ section?
I don’t know how many times I’ve bought something purely for the pockets. “Sure, I don’t love the color, but it has great pockets!” “I know it’s not my size, but I’ll make it work—it has pockets.” With a pair of decent pockets, I can carry my cell phone, wallet, lip balm, pepper spray, and extra tampon without ever worrying about losing a purse or a clutch. Score!
Men’s pants always have pockets. Deep, luxurious, spacious pockets. And the best part? Stuffing these pockets full of doodads doesn’t result in an amorphous bulge on your leg. Stuff just disappears into nowhere. Am I carrying my cell phone or are my pockets empty? You’ll never know.
Men’s pockets are magical. And so, if you’ve never worn men’s pants before, you really ought to give it a try. Say it with me: Pockets!
Your body is no longer the focus
How many times have you struggled to squeeze your behind into a pair of denim shorts (that are usually more spandex than denim, if we’re being honest) only to find that you are left feeling sexualized and self-conscious?
For some people, drawing attention to their body is incredibly empowering. If that’s you—awesome! Keep it up! For others of us, it’s not empowering at all. It just feels uncomfortable, and perhaps draws attention to areas of your body that you’d rather not focus on. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong to wear clothing that highlights your body; it just means some of us would rather not.
If you struggle to find androgynous clothing in the womens’ department, check out the mens’ side. Mens’ clothing tends to be less clingy or revealing and generally focuses more on comfort, rather than highlighting specific body parts.
Dress for Yourself Not Others
When I dress in non-binary fashion, I’m usually doing it for myself. If I wear mens’ sweatshirts in the evenings, it’s because they make me happy. If I put on a tie for formal events, it’s because it feels like me. If I live in button-downs and Oxfords and skinny jeans for a week, it’s because—well, why not?
I don’t dress the way I’m expected to dress anymore. I don’t wonder as often whether my outfit is “put together” or “trendy” by society’s standards. I wear clothes that express who I am, not what others want me to be. I dress for myself.
If dressing in men’s clothing makes you feel more like yourself, then don’t let anyone stop you. Once you start breaking gender stereotypes, you stop caring about what society says you can and can’t do. And you start doing whatever you want.
And that’s a great feeling.
Fill your closet with items that bring you confidence
Along the lines of the last point, dressing for myself makes me feel more self-confident. That confidence goes beyond just appearance. Fully, truly accepting your own personal style can be an empowering thing, helping you to fully, truly, accept other parts of your personality.
I buy things because they reflect me—and I’m proud of who I am, warts and all. The more comfortable I am in my style, the more comfortable I am in other parts of life, too.
I fill my closet with shirts, pants, skirts, and sweaters that express the many sides of my fabulous personality. And because of that, getting dressed gives me confidence in myself.
I finally feel free to be who I am.
Together, we can break the chains of gender stereotypes
Finally, when we wear mens’ clothing, we break gender stereotypes together. We knock down the walls that separate menswear and womens’ fashion and proclaim “Equality for all!” We show others that identity and self-expression don’t need to be labeled. What is men’s clothing, anyway? For that matter, why are some hobbies more “manly” than others? Why are some careers “masculine”? Why put anything in a box?
Society won’t change without action. By visibly defying gender stereotypes, we become the change the world needs.
Wearing men’s clothing isn’t for everyone. And there’s no shame in shopping in the women’s department—if that’s what makes you happy. However, if you want to try a style that’s usually considered “masculine,” don’t let gender roles stop you. Don’t let society stop you.
Shopping in the men’s section can be incredibly empowering. From pockets to personal confidence, it’s an experience I think everyone deserves to enjoy.
If you’re thinking about wearing men’s clothes, do it! I’ll be here cheering you on.