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How Women Claimed The Right To Wear Men's Clothes (And How Men Can Do The Same)

Updated on August 19, 2009

You know, for most of us wandering about the planet, there's never been a time in our lives when we didn't see women running around in jeans, in shorts, in harem pants. We were born into a world of equality for women. We had stickers in our rooms which said 'Girls Can Do Anything.' We were told that yes, we could be lawyers, bankers, surgeons, CEO's, world leaders and we watched women be all these things and more.

I don't think it ever crossed many of our minds that men don't have the same rights as women. Whilst we women have claimed the world for our own, men still reside largely in the areas they always resided in. This is especially obvious and especially true when it comes to fashion. Though there are a few brave souls who do step outside wearing 'womens' clothing, the majority of men interested in fashion must keep their desires hidden away behind closed doors. Those who insist on pursuing the dream of wearing women's clothing openly pay a very definite price – they often lose romantic partners over this, they are considered perverted, they are considered weak and they are targeted for violence by morons who don't stop to think that just because a guy is wearing a dress he's not necessarily an easy target.

Men are now facing similar challenges to the ones that women faced almost 100 years ago. But there is hope. For every man who asserts his right to wear what clothing he pleases is one more man who is being the change he wishes to see in the world.

I found these pictures in a Time Life special. They were taken by a famous photographer, Alfred Eisenstaedt and they offer a very real insight into the evolution of women's clothes for men.

This first one is of Marlene Dietrich, in Berlin in 1928. Unashamedly and with a smile on her face she wore a top hat and tails to the annual press ball. Alfred notes: "At the annual Pressball in the famous Hotel Adlon, Dietrich wore tails and pants, which was unheard of at that time. She had to stand very still because the exposure was always between half a second and a second. If someone moved I had to take the picture over again."

Not only was Marlene considered one of the sexiest and most alluring women of her day, she was also a strong woman, a woman who did a great deal for women's rights simply by having the courage to wear men's clothing.

Ten years later, Alfred took this equally stunning photo of Katherine Hepburn, lounging in what most certainly appears to be a man's suit.

The main detractors of men wearing women's clothing claim that men shouldn't wear it because it's not made for them. You know why it isn't made for them? Because the demand isn't there yet. Back in the 1920s, they didn't make pant suits for women either, and Marlene is most definitely wearing 'men's clothing' in the picture featured above.

As men come to demand more feminine clothing, manufacturers will start making it and selling it. Then the argument that these 'womens' clothes are not made for men will be defunct. We will see skirts and dresses designed for men to wear and eventually, all those who currently giggle, express horror, or otherwise disagree with the notion that men should be able to wear whatever they want to wear will fade quietly into intolerant history along with segregationists and other unenlightened people with very little understanding of their own history.

Change came because women demanded it, change came because women did what needed to be done. If they wanted to wear something, they wore it, eventually it caught on and nowadays it is considered mundane and commonplace. The same revolution can occur in men's fashion and all it takes is for men to stand up and start claiming the clothing they wish to wear.


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    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Those who say that men should not have the right to wear skirts are just as bad as the Nazis! They are anti - American traitors and THEMSELVES do not deserve the right to wear whatever they like! They are also the axis of evil.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      seems biaised against men now. noone blinks an eyelid at a woman in trousers or swith short hair but a man in high leg boots which I like to wear well that is\another thing altogether

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Real me wear skirts (or kilts) and wear pink! Dig?!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Don't know if she had it custom made for her, but the jacket Katherine Hepburn is wearing has buttons on the left just like the women's cardigan I'm wearing right now. The other possibility is the picture has been flipped (mirror image). Of course, this assumes the boy's buttons on the right and girl's on the left is a worldwide standard and that it existed at the time the picture was taken.

      No matter what she is wearing, KH has the most beautiful cheekbones.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I think the only way to have men be socially accepted wearing women's clothes is for history to repeat itself and men go through a men's rights movement as the women did. Without that it will take 40 or more years for men to be accepted wearing as simply as a pair of panties or a complete outfit with panties,bra, pantyhose,skirt and blouse. Perhaps now is the time for men to stand up in one voice and say "I DON'T HAVE TO BE GAY TO ENJOY WOMEN'S CLOTHES". Women don't have to be a lesbian to wear men's boxers or other men's clothes do they? NO, in today's society it is perfectly normal for a woman to go out in public in men's clothes looking like a tomboy, so why can't men go out in public in a nice shirt and mini skirt?

    • Aya Katz profile image

      Aya Katz 

      9 years ago from The Ozarks

      Hope, in many parts of the world, in earlier times, it was men who wore the flowing robes and women who wore pants. So what is considered men's or women's clothing changes, but the taboo against men wearing women's clothing (and to some extent vice versa) lives on.

    • Hope Alexander profile imageAUTHOR

      Hope Alexander 

      9 years ago

      I think men would have to show themselves as being serious consumers of skirts and dresses before they will be made by mainstream manufacturers. Women wore men's clothing until pants etc were made for them. The 60's and 70's were very much the tail end of the 'fight' for women to wear men's clothing, as the Marlene Dietrich photos demonstrates, the battle started at least 40 years earlier than that.

    • profile image


      9 years ago from Central Coast NSW Australia

      I remember the womens reveloution and protests during the late 60's and early 70's. Women burning bras and demanding equality. The designers were on the ball with this and the Pant Suit was born. There was little protest except form the older generation who claimed women did not wear pants but it faded quickly and the pantsuit was away into the wardrobe of may women. Men did not protest even then. Well, why would we. We had Palaco body shirts. Suits came in a variety of shades of brown and stubbies were born. Today i see more women in suits and some even sporting ties and less skirts in winter. Of course come summer the only idiots still wearing pants are men and women of the larger set who would start a bush fire if their thighs rubbed together. But they are still free to wear a skirt no matter how they look. I still feel if the fashion designers stop listenning to the nay sayers and make mens skirts a serious fashion item instead of a novelty futuristic idea, maybe the idea will catch on.


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