In the wake of Bruce Jenner’s incredibly brave interview with Diane Sawyer, in which he confirmed his transition to becoming a woman, trans issues have never been more prevalent in the mass media. Just days before it aired, illegally obtained paparazzi photos of Bruce outside his home wearing a dress surfaced. The revelation comes during a time of change in fashion, when genderless clothing is becoming a widely discussed topic – why, in 2015, do we still adhere to such outdated gender conventions when it comes to fashion?
Now, I am in no way under the impression that the most important thing about Bruce’s transition is what clothes he is going to wear, but it raises some interesting questions. I myself have been buying and wearing clothes from the women’s section for a while now, albeit unisex items such as trousers and jackets. I buy them simply because there is wider choice available and I like them, nothing more than that. Its not a political statement or a protest, just something I enjoy.
But should this really be an issue? I think not. Recently Selfridges announced its plans to axe women’s and mens floors, resulting in three levels of genderless shopping in which customers were encouraged to simply find the clothes that they like in the size, shape and colours they enjoyed, disregarding the assigned social convention of the garment. Now that is a method of shopping I can really get behind. One of the funniest aspects of buying women’s clothes is going to the dressing rooms. I go to the closest one for ease, which in general is women’s, and I’ve been both turned away and welcomed in. Interestingly, during a shopping trip to Zara my friend Clara was turned away from the mens changing rooms as well.
I am not stating that all men should start wearing floral maxi dresses with matching bolero jackets just to make a point however. The entire ethos behind this development is that you wear what YOU want and what you feel comfortable in. Jaden Smith has been spotted wearing dresses and skirts recently (making headlines in the process) yet still retains a very masculine aesthetic. Clearly, he’s comfortable with his sartorial choices.
On a tour of Yves Saint Laurent’s studio last month, the incredibly chic and informative guide told us a shocking fact; till 2012, women in France could still be legally viewed as outlaws for wearing trousers. Insane, but true! Interestingly it was designers such as Yves Saint Laurent and Coco Chanel who pioneered trousers and suiting for women, such as the infamous ‘Le Smoking’. In more recent years Comme des Garçons has led the way in extravagant designs that transcend the need for an applied gender to the garments. When I visited their shop in Paris I couldn’t help but be taken aback by the designs, mainly because I couldn’t really see a human wearing the clothes, let alone a single gender.
The point is that gendered fashion is ultimately useless. A t-shirt is a t-shirt, a pair of jeans is a pair of jeans – who decides what makes one particular pair only suitable for a woman to wear? Despite the obvious alterations made to suit a female vs male body, there is really no reason to stick only to your specified section. Next time you shop, take a look in the section you aren’t supposed to – you might be pleasantly surprised.