Society has always loved to police women’s bodies, and the clothes women choose to wear are no exception. The good news is, this has begun to change, and women today are less likely to be hassled for dressing casually, daringly, or in a way that doesn’t conform to gendered standards. The bad news is, men’s fashion has also become freer and more relaxed even though they had it fine to begin with. If this strikes as you as unfair, you’re not alone. Here’s why I believe women should wear whatever they want and men should dress like Cary Grant again.
The unpaid, and in fact personally expensive labor that women, and particularly women of color are expected to perform in order to look a certain way is reprehensible. That’s why it’s vital that we keep pushing toward a society where women can dress, groom, and make themselves up however they please. But if white men think they can just ride this wave, burn their ties, and pop on some flip-flops, they’re out of their goddamn minds. Nice try, but it’s time for you all to dress like Cary Grant circa 1955.
You might be thinking, isn’t it harmful to enforce this sort of gendered sartorial dogma even on cis, gender conforming white men? And to that I say, where are your North by Northwest sunglasses?
In our patriarchal society, women’s value is linked to how attractive or desirable they are considered by Western beauty standards in a way that just isn’t the case for men. So now we’re going to do a little evening of the scales and make all men dress in a way that is desirable to me, which means coat and tie at all times, a gorgeous wool sweater if you’re chilly, dress socks and shoes, and HIGH waisted slacks. Oh and don’t forget a poplin pajama set; you sleep fancy now.
So grab your sock garters and your pomade, and get ready to perform your gender like an exploitative film studio’s revenue depends on it, because I think we should do this for at least 50 years for things to even begin to feel fair. Bonus points for a transatlantic accent and crooked smile. Good luck, boys!