When men and women first started to fashion clothes for themselves, they did so as a means to protect themselves from the harsh conditions they found themselves in. Mostly clothes were fashioned from skinning animals, but with the start of men learning to cultivate the land, they found new methods of making clothes. From wool, to flax, to cotton mankind started to develop new means to manufacture garments.
The first clothes were very bland, and rough, but refining and the discovery of dyes, mankind started to experiment, first with colours, and then with styles. What is the common truth is that most clothing worn today by women were probably worn by men first. Think of the skirt for example, early men wore them. Particulary in Africa and around Egypt. Then they started to wear dresses, although in a crude fashion and cut they are in fact dresses although we today would call them smocks.
The Persians started to wear cosmetics, like eyeliner, and most cultures wore jewellery as well. It wasn?t until the arrival of the Romans did a strong male identity become apparent. The romans didn?t like men wearing cosmetics or perfume, and were rather stoic in outlook. As the Roman Empire started to fade away and merge into the dark ages, more changes started to appear men started to wear thick wool tights, and cod pieces, women wore more tight fitting bodices that showed their cleveage, a trend that continued for centuries later.
The arrival of trousers, brought what we know to day as the defining male look. This made men?s clothes more easy to wear, and were much more comfortable and versatile. This happened while womens fashion seemed stuck in a time warp, indeed corsets were even more hindering. It is often said that women in the 18th century would faint a lot due to the tight corsets they wore.
It wasn?t until the 20th century did things start to change. With women?s emancipation came freedom of expression, and that blossomed a massive surge in design, within a few short years the mini, the mini dress, halter dress, high heel shoes, platforms, tights and stockings were being worn regularly. This happened at a time when men?s fashion changed very little. Sure cut and styles changed but in general men?s fashion has changed very little from the turn of the 20th century.
In today?s fashion we see women wearing a variety of things, dresses, skirts, blouses, and tops, hosiery, trousers, shirts, etc. Men?s fashion is quite plain shirts, trousers, jumpers, and suits. The interesting thing is to note that now men are starting to be more fashion conscious, the fashion and cosmetics industry are spending vast amounts in marketing and advertising new products for men.
For so many years men have been neglected, and now industry has realised the huge amount of money to be made in men?s products. But there is a growing trend in a new and unexpected direction. More and more men are experimenting wearing women?s clothes, dressing and acting as women. This has resulted in a boom in larger sizes, indeed the growing problem in obesity has caused a new area of growth for larger sizes.
The upshot is that were once there were clearly defined lines between male and female dress, today the lines are becoming increasing blurred. Maybe in the future we will see a society were masculinity and femininity is no longer defined by what we dress but how we act as human beings. Personally I look forward to a time when people will be able to wear what they want rather than what we are told by society to wear.
In retrospect we are looking at a society that is changing and the way we dress is coming full circle. We are on a revolving door in the fashion stacks.