Genderless Fashion: When I Stopped Shopping by Gender, I Fell in Love With Fashion Again

I’ve always been fascinated with women’s clothing. As a child, my tomboy sister refused to wear her frilly, pink princess gowns and toddler heels, but I coveted them. I found comfort in playing with Barbie dolls and dressing like the Spice Girls, but whenever I would try to wear something that I inherently liked—like a tiara—I was told it was wrong. “Boys don’t wear that.”

I eventually grew out of this fashion phase and began wearing the clothes deemed appropriate for boys to wear. The soccer jerseys, grungy band tees, and oversized suits never felt quite like me, but I went along with it. Even now, as an adult man in his late 20s, I still find myself shopping with this same narrow point of view. Even though the women’s section always seems way bigger, with more colorful and fun pieces, I’ll dutifully head to the men’s.

But lately I’ve been rethinking my approach to shopping entirely, as has a growing faction of the industry. I’ve been in a rut since the world began opening up again. Ever get that feeling where you wake up and think, I have nothing to wear? That’s been me, only every single day. Seeing stars like Lil Nas X, Kid Cudi, and Harry Styles push the boundaries of gendered style on the red carpet has inspired me to take an introspective look at my own style and how I’m perhaps limiting myself for no good reason. I decided a few months ago that I would finally have my hot girl summer—as in, I’m finally ready to shop in the women’s section. In the process, I’ve fallen in love with fashion all over again.

Now, am I saying crossing the imaginary borderline between the men’s and women’s sections is a groundbreaking, life-changing concept? Absolutely not. Men have been wearing women’s clothes, and vice versa, for ages. But for me this new exploratory phase has been a serious game changer (and a choice that’s been long overdue).

My first venture was back in June, when I visited 10ft Single by Stella Dallas in Brooklyn (one of my favorite vintage stores). I wanted to pick a familiar store I would be comfortable perusing womenswear in, and I figured the cool crowd there wouldn’t mind. (Lots of Gen Z teens, and Bella Hadid, shop here.) Even though the men’s offering is always pretty good, I ended up scoring in the women’s section: I picked up two simple, silk blouses—one in black, one in burgundy—that I’ve been wearing with jeans almost every single day. I also found a Hawaii tourist tank that has ruched sides. (It’s very Isabel Marant–esque.)

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