The Role of Men’s Fashion in Women’s Fashion

Friday, April 20, 2018

The Role of Men’s Fashion in Women’s Fashion

The historical context of men's fashion influence over women's fashion throughout time and how both becomes comfortably intertwined.

If it’s true that imitation is the best form of flattery, men may feel tempted to look upon the history of women’s fashion with a sense of pride. Whether it’s high heels, high-waisted pants, or high amounts of blush and powder, these fashion statements saw their start as adornments of the male elite, spreading downward among the male gentry and only then eventually making their way into women’s high fashion.

In truth, the way in which men’s fashion penetrates women’s fashion is less about the style and more about the substance. A modern example would be the adaptation of fabrics used for popular men's athletic dress shirts that are wrinkle free and workplace ready. The utility of wearing these sorts of fabrics, rather than more sensitive threads traditionally associated with women’s fashion, has not been lost on women who lead very busy lives both at work and at home.

The same can be said for the advent of pants as a piece of clothing common in women’s fashion. Rather than representing some sort of desire on the part of women to mimic the look of men, pants as a part of women’s fashion were the result of a growing need for common sense attire in a world where women were more frequently expected to perform manual labor. Though no doubt also influenced by the determination of one or two Hollywood leading ladies to wear slacks without shame, the fact women are no longer expected to only wear dresses is thanks mostly to the demands of the time.

Sometimes, however, the adaptation of men’s fashion by women was not the product of practicality. Instead, it was the result of the rampant level of male-domination in the world throughout most of history. What women were allowed to wear was something men controlled, as absurd as this notion appears today.


Take for example the previously mentioned high heels, which were originally part of the male high fashion ensemble starting in the 17th century with the court of the French King Louis XIV. By the time high heeled footwear fell out of fashion among men, their origin as practical horse riding shoes was lost and they became symbols of impracticality. This fit almost perfectly into an existing narrative in the male-dominated fashion world wherein women were to wear clothes which proved essentially impractical.


There’s an argument to be made that things have moved full circle. The fashion choices of men are increasingly being influenced by styles originally devised by women. Floral patterns, bright hues, tight cuts, and short inseams are becoming normal attire for men. Furthermore, people are increasingly feeling confident in wearing whatever makes them feel comfortable. Wearing men’s clothes or women’s clothes is something which many consider independent of a person’s gender.

As time goes on, the origins of particular elements of fashion may get blurred and overlapped. The result, as many can probably agree to foresee, is a future where fashion is gender neutral. In fact, it may be the case we’re already there. Perhaps it’s time for a new chapter of fashion history to begin?

To end this entry, here's a quote by Maya Angelou:

“Everything in the universe has a rhythm, everything dances.”

Photos from Pexels // A creative content by Varina


shanaz@RS | 5:22 PM | Labels: /

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