Gender stereotypes have dominated our society for hundreds of years; dictating the way we live our lives and how we define ourselves as people. Hypothetically, men are supposed to be strong, fierce and masculine, whereas women should be soft, kind and feminine.
In the 21st Century, however, these stereotypes are beginning to become outdated and redundant, and one of the main ways this is being shown is through fashion. Blending masculine and feminine together is rapidly becoming popular, and the red carpet is one of the best platforms to show the world that gender non-conforming outfits are very much the new norm.
Whether it be at the Oscars, the Met Gala or the Grammys, celebrities in recent years have had the freedom to express themselves on the red carpet in ways they never had before, and they are now celebrated by the press and the media rather than scrutinised as they had been in previous years. On that note, here are five of the best gender-fluid looks from red carpets over the last few years.
Billy Porter, 2019 Oscars
Billy Porter is well known in the fashion world for his rather extravagant dress sense, and the 2019 Oscars was no different. Taking the traditional male tuxedo to a whole new level, Billy’s sweeping black gown stole the red carpet in a heartbeat. It was an outfit that broke down the rigid Hollywood dress code and challenged both masculinity and femininity in all the right ways, although it has come under some scrutiny as, for some, it had pushed the boundaries too far. Yet in a piece by Vogue regarding his sensational gown, Porter stated that his goal “is to be a walking piece of political art every time I show up. To challenge expectations.” It’s safe to say that Billy Porter certainly exceeded expectations two years ago when he wore this unapologetically fabulous gown, and his outfits since then have only exacerbated his political message that fashion can and should be gender-fluid.
Ezra Miller, 2019 Met Gala
Similar to Billy Porter, Ezra Miller is renowned for his daring fashion statements in which he almost always opts for a theatrical theme. As the Met Gala is always a chance for designers and celebrities alike to showcase their skills, Ezra spared no expense with his outfit or his special effects makeup, which were both indeed very theatrical. Though wearing a pinstriped suit, this was adorned with gleaming diamonds and had a very long cape that resembled the train of a dress, which are both typically ‘feminine’ accents. But this isn’t the only aspect where Miller challenged the gender norms; his bold red lip and flawless white manicure are also not commonly worn by men. As one of the most influential young men on the 21st Century’s red carpet, Ezra Miller is leading the way to a future in which fashion does not have to have gender boundaries.
Billie Eilish, 2020 Grammys
Ever since she first came into the public eye in 2016, Billie Eilish has not dressed like a ‘typical’ teenage girl. Instead she has opted for oversized t-shirts, shorts, and other similar traditionally masculine clothes so she does not get body shamed or become hypersexualised, as she has stated many times. Inadvertently this means that she has challenged the gender stereotypes as well as the boundaries Hollywood have created around fashion. This was evident at the 2020 Grammys, where she wore a large, black and green Chanel suit paired with chunky matching boots. Pant suits and tuxedos have always been a traditionally male clothing item, and only started being worn by women in the public eye during the 1930s. This just goes to show that Billie has spent her entire career challenging gender norms and promoting a more gender-fluid notion to the fashion industry.
Harry Styles, 2019 Met Gala
The same year Ezra Miller wowed the crowds at the Met Gala, Harry Styles did too. Well-renowned for owning a very gender non-conforming wardrobe — for example his pink tutu and tights on Saturday Night Live — and exploring elements of both masculinity and femininity, Harry’s Met Gala outfit fittingly teeters between the two. While overall the suit pants and shoes look vaguely masculine, the sheer ruffled blouse, the manicure and the glistening pearl earring imply a more feminine style. This combination of elements is a more subtle subversion of traditional gender stereotypes, but is effective nonetheless. For the past couple of years, Harry Styles has been a walking icon of gender-fluidity in fashion and is an important inspirational voice on why freedom of expression is so vital to people.
Angelina Jolie, 2014 BAFTA Awards
Angelina Jolie is one of Hollywood’s leading actresses and is always one to look out for on the red carpet. There are countless times when she has stunned paparazzi into silence by wearing elegant gowns with plunging necklines, but there are also many times when she has opted to wear a tuxedo instead of a dress, such as at the BAFTA Awards in 2014. Though still with feminine touches like high heels and an unbuttoned shirt, tuxedos are stereotypically worn by males, and Jolie actually matched her then-husband Brad Pitt, who also donned a tux that night. As an equal rights activist, it is clear to see why Angelina often wears pantsuits to red carpet events and inadvertently promotes gender-fluidity in fashion, and she always looks incredible in everything she wears.