Harry Styles for “Vogue” and the History of Men Defying Social Norms

Katelyn Powers, Staff Writer

Harry Styles was not the first man to wear a dress and he won’t be the last.

This month marks the one-year anniversary since Harry Styles wore a dress for “Vogue” magazine. 

This issue of “Vogue” received many mixed reviews from the media and it brought us back to one point, clothes have no gender. Although Syles was put on the cover for “Vogue” and is getting recognized, he is not the only man to wear a dress. History is filled with men wearing dresses, but history is made with Styles being the first man to ever appear on the cover of “Vogue.”

This cover sparked many with the thought of why can’t men wear dresses? For example, if a girl can wear her boyfriend’s hoodies, why is it so wrong for a man to wear a dress? Everyone wears clothes and there is no specific gender attached to them. Although our society sets these “rules” that if you go by a certain gender, you shouldn’t wear this item of clothing. Junior Sophie Boguszewski states her opinion that she doesn’t find anything wrong with it. “I don’t think it’s inappropriate. People used to not want women to wear pants, but now they do. So why can’t men wear dresses,” Boguszewski said. This issue showed Styles’ dedication to breaking down social norms and showing how it is okay for men to wear dresses and express themselves through clothing since clothing is not gender-specific.

Not only does this spark the idea of nongender-specific clothing, but it also sparks normalizing “feminine” things for everyone. The former One Direction member and the now solo artist is known for pushing against the social norms of men by painting his nails and wearing pearl necklaces. Styles recently founded his beauty brand “Pleasing”. The brand has recently launched a line of nail polishes and skin serums. These lines have been modeled by Styles as well. Click here to visit the “Pleasing” website.

Although Harry Styles is getting recognition for this, he is not the first man to ever wear a dress. Many famous men have paved the way for men in dresses in the past. In 1971, David Bowie was photographed wearing a dress while lounging around his house. Bowie has worn dresses on many occasions, including for one of his album covers. Freddie Mercury also had an impact. Mercury wore dresses for many occasions as well, but he mainly wore them while performing alongside his band, Queen.

Many men are still paving the way, alongside Styles but without recognition. Billy Porter plays a big part in breaking down gender stereotypes and advocating for the LGBTQ+ community. One of the ways he does this is by wearing dresses for many occasions, specifically red carpets, including his famous tuxedo dress for the Oscars in 2019. Italian rock band, Måneskin, wear dresses and skirts for nearly every performance. Each member of Måneskin defies the social norms every day by wearing heavy eyeliner and makeup.

However history is filled with men in dresses, this is a first for “Vogue”. This issue was the first time the magazine ever had a man solo on the cover. Women and men had been featured together on the cover but this was the first issue with a solo man. “Vogue” has been running since 1892 and has had all women on their cover until this issue. This was a breakthrough moment for the company and Harry Styles will definitely not be the last man on the cover of “Vogue”.

Psychology and History Teacher Nathan Lentz guesses the reason “Vogue” has had women on their covers is because of traditional gender stereotypes.“I would guess fashion has been viewed as very feminine instead of masculine for the traditional fashion role. I don’t know if any men have ever had the platform or the opportunity as Harry Styles did, but I would guess that it would be based on the general gender stereotypes,” Lentz said.

At the end of the day, clothes have no gender and we should celebrate and normalize breaking gender-stereotypical fashion.

Click this link for the article of Harry Styles’ “Vogue” issue. 

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