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  • Writer's pictureGuts Mafia

You Can’t Sit With Us

Updated: May 29

On Wednesdays, we wear....whatever we want, because fashion is genderless...right? 👚


The other day I found myself in yet another conversation, tip-toeing on eggshells with an individual over 50. She had just hit me with, “Well, how can anyone tell anymore by the way they’re dressed these days, amiright?”. And I’m pretty sure she caught my pregnant pause behind it.


We had been loosely discussing the matter of gender and expression when she found herself entangled in a “what are you?” conundrum. Honestly, it wasn't that she said the cringe thing, I had mentally prepared for the possibility that a like comment might slide in, and I was ready to attribute it to the generational gap. What got me, was truly the question itself. Were clothes meant to expose gender? The thought began to roll into questions about the true nature of modern fashion, particularly in the 21st century.  


We’ve taken an astounding leap in the last 10 years from a society that once painfully adhered to a gender binary, to ripping the lid off Pandora's box and letting the spectrum run free. The blossoming of everything from international language surrounding pronouns, to apparel, has begun to mold the vision of an inclusive future. So, this question, how can you tell [gender]? really began to focus my mind on how important clothing has been in sculpting this future forward conversation. 


To say first impressions mean everything is a gross generalization in theory, and yet, strikingly true in practice. Arguably, the first wave of consecrated opinions we make off someone comes from the way they’re garbed. Our brains, ever wired to the binary, make lightning fast decisions on whether we believe someone to fit into X or Y category; it applies to everything from gender to deciding if we think that person is dweeby or cool. We can’t help it- drawing instant conclusions is the trigger of primal instinct set to react appropriately to perceived threats in the wild. It highlights this underlying pulse of fearing the unknown and widens the gap between those who believe there are assigned roles, and those who know the limit does not exist. 


Before the absolute domination of streetwear in fashion, it felt like there was hardly a space for cis men in fashion outside of business casual and normcore. Their sections in the thrift store always reflect how little option they are given; plaid button up this, khaki slack that, what a thrill -_- Women are expected to find something in the bodycon realm, you know, the kind of stuff that attracts eligible men, because we were all expected to stay on our respective sides of the duple. But enter a generational uprising, and now the need to express genuinely and uniquely is amplified ten fold. Style genres like athleisure, workwear ensembles, and all things “core” answered that call with fervor.


This idea of being able to “tell” what or even who a person is by their attire is actually kind of laughable. Think about it: someone thinks they know who you are and what you like because you put a few scraps of fabric on your body, and furthermore, they’ve assigned connotations to those scraps depending on if they’re lace, vinyl, or silk. Othering feels safer than stepping into the obscure because it places an individual in “like” categories, where their values, lifestyles and orientations are assumed to be shared by their surrounding cohort; all this really does is create a dichotomy of resistance vs progression. 


The point of fashion (outside of strict uniform) is expression. Choosing how you are perceived, or not, is a very systematic and intimate choice on behalf of the wearer, who innately knows that their creative direction will communicate unspoken insights about their character. When observing a person in passing the question shouldn't actually be about what someone is based on the drape, rather why they’ve opted for the given aesthetic. Ostensibly, it would be dismissive to write off any fit as a means of merely determining gender; this crux forms the very foundation on which the unisex fashion movement thrives.


As we enter the 2030’s and beyond, the intersectionality of identity and regalia will continue to overlap, beautifully bleeding into one another and forcefully chipping away at antiquated perspectives. Replacing the current repertoire with one of receptivity will be yet another bane of human existence, but it's a challenge worth accepting as a society whose never ending journey is one of inevitable change. Disregarding threads as merely that, while also allowing for their presence and presentation to impart the desired elements, is a juxtaposition that requires nothing more than an open mind to understand. Will clothing solve the culture? No - just like it won’t tell you what's between a person's legs or who they’re trying to invite between them, if anyone at all. The only person whose business it is to care about the clothing is the creator themselves, and trust me, none of their paychecks are asking if they can “tell”.

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