What's Manly Anyways?
Growing up, I never really thought twice about clothes. I would always just wear what my parents bought me. I loved jeans and gravitated towards sweatshirts because of my skinny arms, but beyond that my style was pretty basic. In high school, I wouldn't say I ever strayed from the “status quo” of teenage style. Jeans and a t-shirt were my daily outfits, while still gravitating towards long sleeves. Even in college, when someone should really start to “find themselves”, experimenting with fashion never happened for me. I think it went back to wanting to fit in and not wanting to step out of the unsaid “dos and don'ts” of society. When I would get dressed in college, I found myself changing out of an outfit because I thought it was “too much”. I’m still not really sure what “too much” meant, but it would cross my mind. Is this outfit too feminine? Too out of the box? Not typical frat boy attire? I don’t know. Whether it was a ripped t-shirt or a pair of white jeans, I didn’t feel “right” in these clothes.
Recently, I’ve found my love for fashion and the “feminine” side of it. I like pinks and purples, tie dyes and sweat suits. I dyed my hair once and am thinking about doing it again , and painting my nails is definitely intriguing to me. In my short 22 years of life, I have noticed men’s fashion evolving. Is the increase of unisex clothing and the ability for men to have more fun with their fashion within society becoming normalized? Celebrities at the forefront of pop culture are now embracing said femininity. I can’t open Tik Tok without seeing men who have a style I would have once considered way too “out of the box”; earrings, ripped clothes, painted nails, dyed hair, etc.
Harry Styles recently spoke about his fashion sense and the power clothes have over us:
“...Clothes are there to have fun with and experiment with and play with. What’s really exciting is that all of these lines are just kind of crumbling away. When you take away ‘There’s clothes for men and there’s clothes for women,’ once you remove any barriers, obviously you open up the arena in which you can play.” - Harry Styles
Playing is exactly what we should all be doing when it comes to our wardrobes. Fashion is supposed to be fun and individualistic. Even if you think you’re above Fashion or want to excuse yourself from the “Fashion world”, I hate to break it to you but that’s not possible. (See this Miranda Presley monologue for reference, a laugh, and some hard truth).
I’m sure by now you’ve seen the Harry Styles Vogue cover and holy shit are people talking about it. What defines masculinity? Is a man weaker for embracing femininity? What (and who) even is a manly man? (Go to Candace Owens’ Twitter for the worst of it). To me, if masculinity means strength and power, being secure in myself is masculine. Speaking from a pretty normal guy who has not had the courage to play with his fashion as much as I would have liked to, Harry Styles on the cover of Vogue in a dress is dope. Yes, dope. In response to critics, I think Zach Braff said it best, “Our whole lives boys and men are told we need to be manly. Life is short. be whatever the fuck you want to be.”
Seeing Harry Styles on the cover only exudes confidence for me and I’m sure it does for many other guys thinking about having fun with their style too. Now, I really have no interest in wearing a dress, but if I did… then I would go for it. I’m going to wear my plaid pants or that pink shirt or maybe paint my nails and not care what other people think. Fashion is fun, and nobody really wants to wear khaki pants and a polo all the time… so if I'm saying anything here, it is do what feels good for yourself. And that’s exactly what I’m going to do - participate in the fun. Having the confidence to express ourselves is more courageous, admirable, and yes, manly, than holding ourselves back from doing what feels right.