Clothing Stereotypes based on Gender

Girls wear pink, Boys wear blue. Girls wear dresses, Boys wear suits. These are some of the stereotypes associated with fashion. However in the past stereotypes have been concrete. And rarely did people “cross-dress”. However, in today’s society those lines are becoming harder to decipher.

Clothing is a powerful, nonverbal communicative tool and a form of self expression that provides clues about our personality. First, fashion changes from decade to decade and year to year. Older studies may not be relevant now as to how accepted styles of females to males fashion choices and representation have changed. This may cause implications on perceptions of the traditional feminine or masculine attire. Resulting in “mis-gendering” or getting a more masculine feeling from a female or a more feminine feeling from a male. Though more and more people are trying to break through those gender stereotypes.

Clothing can send a variety of messages to those around us. It can convey where a person ranks in their culture, revealing clues about their income, class, power, and social ranking. Formal dress is often associated with higher levels of intelligence, authority, and upper class social standing.

People often rely on stereotypes based on outer appearances to make initial assumptions about others. As clothing is a specific component of someone’s overall physical appearance it has an impact on first impressions. For example, if an outfit that shows a lot of skin, such as a shirt with a low neckline, frequently worn by women may cause that women to be sexually objectified. In an interview with Rebekka Williams she states “I am called vulgar when wearing skirts or dresses.” She goes on to explain how people judge her for her hobbies, “Oh my gosh is that a furry? I don’t get why people are judged so harshly, I’m not hurting anyone.” Since outer appearance is so impactful in judgement that a job candidate’s interview outfit may influence their chances of getting the position.

In the end, the “rules” around gendered fashion are not at all about fashion and taste, they’re about how we mark a difference and express ourselves. We tend to believe that people obtain information about us through our clothing, therefore we value how we look and are presented. 

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