“Do you think I look like a boy?” asked my 15-year-old sister as tears dropped onto the bedroom floor. Her ensemble of layered silver chains, oversized dark jeans, and neon socks had sparked questions about her sexuality at school. In an environment where girls use clothing to put their bodies forward, to accentuate their figure, it can be difficult to dress to self-express.
An increasingly stylistically bold generation is no longer afraid to reject conventional fashion trends. This includes the incorporation of gender fluid clothing, although often only appreciated by a select few; this new-found freedom from gender norms still proves a challenge for many young women. Fashion shouldn’t have a gender and many women have stopped finding themselves in traditional clothing. Yet, established clothing stores such as H&M and Zara still only offer restrictive options for these alternative perceptions.
This is particularly true for street style. Trying to create a harsh, blunt, and conventionally masculine look requires delving into a deeper fashion exploration. It means scavenging vintage markets, venturing into the boys’ section and scrolling through online streetwear entrepreneurs. The point is, this is no longer solely a discussion about gender. It is about a youthful expression of individuality, one that transcends typical categorisations.
Vintage sportswear, one of the prominent components of street style, is not just a matter of trend. It is about going to the past and recreating it in our own way, reviving the piece’s personality, regardless of gender. It truly is the advent of a new way of shopping, concentrating on how you can personally and uniquely adapt the clothing rather than how the clothing adapts to you. Getting past initial aversions and hesitations creates a space where you find a character, overstep a boundary, and tackle a challenge. And it is so much more fun like this.
The visibility of certain figures through social media has normalised this culture. Billie Eilish, a 17 year old singer, has developed a style that may seem to contradict her music genre. Her honey-sweet voice and soothing melodies contrast her rougher visuals and “peculiar” or “ill-fitting” clothing choices. She is brutally vocal about disregarding the rules of fashion and not giving a damn. It is equally important for men to be outspoken on the subject. YouTube’s popular street-style-focused fashion show, PAQ, recently released an episode on styling skirts on men. Inspired by Young Thug’s album cover, the guys explored their individual take on a gendered clothing item, even incorporating lace and feminine-cut jackets into their pieces. This is significant considering the magnitude of their platform.
You don’t have to be a man wearing a skirt, or a woman in layered oversized sweaters. You’re a person wearing what you like, and loving the process of putting that together. I don’t want to hear any other girls like my sister say: “I feel like as much of a girl, but other people don’t see me in that way.”