Dec 9, 2016

Unisex Clothing: A Brief History

The idea of unisex clothing has actually been around a long time. It was in 1824 when the first concept of women being allowed to wear pants first came to be. It was the New Harmony Socialist Utopian Community that first scandalously announced that women could in fact wear pants. This idea didn’t sit very well and it wasn’t until several decades later that a women name Amelia Bloomer first started to campaign the right for women to once again wear pants. She eventually won and the style of pants worn under the short dresses of the time were named “Bloomers” after her.

As soon as the 2nd world war came to, so did the end of the unisex movement. Soon the gender roles were strongly enforced and men did the typical man stuff like worked on cars and went hunting while women took care of the household and children. At around this time there was a brief and coincidental rise in unisex clothing as women were taking jobs from men who had gone to fight in the war. Under factory conditions women had to wear pants and other clothes previously worn by men as it would have been unsafe to wear dresses amid all the heavy machinery.

After the war things return to how there were before and men wore traditional manly attire and women went back to wearing dresses. This was further enforced by Hollywood movie stars like James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor. Movie stars like James Dean and John Wayne were the epitome of being a man and were therefore the inspiration for many young boys to dress and act the same. Female movie stars like Elizabeth Taylor wore high heels and short dresses and she exuded the female glamour that attracted similar styles of dress with young women at the time.

60’s Revolution

During the sexual revolution of the 1960 both sexes saw a change in traditional clothing. Values and ideas that were common before were starting to change. Things such as age, gender, and class were all redefined during this time. Fashion designers were forced to have a new concept of youth and universality. The idea of unisex gained a following with people looking to escape the traditional concepts of gender and with people who were looking for new forms of freedom.


With a history steeped in tradition it is no surprise that the unisex movement has had it fair share of challenges. With clear cut gender roles being mainstream in culture it is only on occasion that unisex fashion sees a resurgence. Only recently has the idea of unisex seen an increase in popularity. However with the changing times and with new freedoms given everyday it will be interested to see where the future takes us with this style.

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