For many years, society has been finding ways to divide men and women based on different aspects of identity. One of the most prevalent ways that a civilization distinguishes men from women is through outward appearance, namely clothing. Gendered clothing has been a thing for centuries, with particular articles of clothing and accessories being designated for specific genders. Even the colors worn signified a gender, and even cross-referenced an individual’s socioeconomic station in life. But what we consider common for a man or a woman to wear has changed drastically through history. What we deem feminine in today’s time was, in many instances, originally created for and by men. Some of the most “female” styles of dress were commonplace to see sported by a man. This is only further proof that gender is in fact a construct, and that truly people can wear what ever they desire, as the rigidity of societal views is only a result of time and popular opinion – two things that will never stop changing. Nevertheless, for a surprising trip down fashion memory lane, here are 8 modern feminine things that were initially made for men.
Dresses and Skirts
Men wearing dresses and skirts is a trend that is making a comeback with celebrities like Jaden Smith and David Bowie. But for many decades, it was not popular. However, for several centuries it was popular for men to wear dresses. Such is still the case in civilizations like the Zulu people in Southern Africa, whose male demographic has always worn dresses and skirts, with the type of material (mainly animal skin) signifying social status.
Would you believe that high heels were originally designed for men? Records show that men originally wore high heels as far back as 400 years ago, for several reasons. They came in hand for horseback riding and were associated with military uniforms. High heels were also used by butchers to keep blood from dirtying their feet.
It is well documented that men used to wear wigs in many different societies. Along with their powdery faces, the European elite wore wigs to signify wealth. This was a trait carried over into early American civilization. It is said that wigs originated after Romans grew tired of painting over their bald spots.
Many civilizations are known for their male population wearing makeup. Egyptians are famous for the cat eye look, and the British for their powdering foundation. In China and Japan, both men and women used egg to stain their nails as a symbol of status.
The Color Pink
Now considered a femine color perfect for girls and babies, pink was once considered a masculine color. The idea behind this was that pink was a “junior red” and a stronger, more boyish color than blue, which was considered soft and suitable for girls.
In previous decades, it was not uncommon to see a man with a small purse. Many men carried purses to keep their change in, thus the term “change purse” was alive and well in these days.
Even though many men love to sport watches now, it was originally a feminine thing to wear a watch on the wrist. Most men wore pocket watches as their time piece.
This might be hard to believe, but crop tops are a trend that used to be popular with the guys, namely football players. A trend started with athletes, the male crop top became widely popular in US mainstream culture in the 1980s and 1990s. It was a symbol of masculinity, bravado and showing off a good male physique. You can see some of the most popular male celebrities, rappers and heartthrobs wearing crop tops during this era.