Breaking down barriers: Harry Styles shows clothes have no gender in recent Vogue issue

Photo of Harry Styles, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Alayna Yates
Contributing Writers

The sugary sweet “Watermelon Sugar” singer, Harry Styles, was recently crowned the first solo man to cover Vogue in the December 2020 issue. Not only did he make a statement by being the first man coverstar, but he also turned heads by wearing a long, lacey, baby-blue dress trimmed in black.

Styles’ wowing photos made his fans’ jaws drop with his wildly creative and out-of-the-box fashion taste. Wearing skirts, bearing his tattooed chest, and jumping on trampolines, this Vogue story was full of spectacles for all audiences. 

Looking past the ravishing photos and digging into the meat of the piece, Styles talks about how fashion shouldn’t be limited to women’s and men’s clothing. As far as the former One Direction member is concerned, clothing doesn’t have gender. 

“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,” Styles told Vogue. “It’s like anything—anytime you’re putting barriers up in your own life, you’re just limiting yourself. There’s so much joy to be had in playing with clothes.”

Unfortunately, not all people see clothes as an area of play, such as Republican activist, Candace Owens. Following the release of Styles’ Vogue cover, she took to social media with the campaign “Bring Back Manly Men,” claiming on her Instagram that “women do not find men in dresses to be attractive.” 

It didn’t take long for the millions of Harry Styles fans and multiple celebrities to also take to social media in support of Styles. Olivia Wilde was quoted in the Vogue article saying, “It’s pretty powerful and kind of extraordinary to see someone in his position redefining what it can mean to be a man with confidence.” Wilde and Styles are currently working together on the film, Don’t Worry Darling, a psychological thriller that Wilde is directing. This is only Styles’ second time acting on the big screen, his first being in 2017 for his role in Dunkirk.

Harry has never been one to engage in petty social media banter: he rarely even posts on most platforms. However, to start the month off, Styles posted a picture of himself from a photoshoot with Variety magazine on December 1. Chowing on a banana, staring off into the abis, once again wearing that perfect shade of baby-blue and wearing an expensive and extravagant looking tux, Styles hit his followers with the caption “Bring back manly men” in spite of Owens’ campaign.

Putting the drama aside and re-focusing on the marvelous Mr. Harry Styles, the pop rock star made Directioners swoon when he spoke a bit on his boy band roots and how it’ll never be a part of his past that he neglects: “I think the typical thing is to come out of a band like that and almost feel like you have to apologize for being in it. But I loved my time in it. It was all new to me, and I was trying to learn as much as I could. I wanted to soak it in,” Styles told Vogue.

Comparing his time recording music as a part of the band to the process he goes through now, Styles says he fell in love with being in the studio when he went solo. His second album, Fine Line, allowed him to take more risks and enjoy the studio process a little bit more. Since the release of his self-titled debut album in 2017, Styles told Vogue about how he’s evolved as an artist: “‘I can see all the places where it almost felt like I was bowling with the bumpers up. I think with the second album I let go of the fear of getting it wrong and…it was really joyous and really free.’”

The evolution didn’t stop at the music, though. Styles said his videos, his fashion, and everything in between has become, well, a little more “him” as he’s established himself as an icon across the board. In terms of fashion, Styles most definitely makes bold statements. Touring in bright colored suits, gathering stage looks from rock influences like David Bowie or Prince, and who would Harry be without his signature high-waisted trousers? 

Styles found his love of music and his love of fashion at a young age, playing dress up with his sister and singing all over the house. Harry’s sister, Gemma Styles, joined him for the photoshoot and told the fashion magazine that even though he would never shy away from the fancy outfits his mother would set out for him, singing was always something he kept to himself.

No longer a little boy too shy to sing for others, Harry Styles has shown the world what it means to shatter barriers and break through toxic masculinity. Alessandro Michele, Gucci designer and friend to Styles, described Harry as naturally in touch with his feminine side. 

Noticing Styles as an icon in both the music and fashion industries, Michele added, “‘And he’s a big inspiration to a younger generation—about how you can be in a totally free playground when you feel comfortable. I think that he’s a revolutionary.’”

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