The discussion on Harry Styles

Styles wore a dress in his 2020 Vogue magazine cover and it does NOT make him any less of a man


Harry Styles on the December 2020 issue of Vogue Magazine. // Tyler Mitchell, Vote

Haley Wernz, Reporter

The recent Vogue Magazine cover featuring Harry Styles in a large, ruffled dress is causing discussion online about what is “masculine” and “feminine” in the modern era.

In case you haven’t seen the absolute dumpster fire on the internet flaming Harry Styles– you’re lucky. Styles is notable for being “unlabeled” about his sexuality– not directly gay, straight, or bisexual–  for bending fashion barriers, and, incidentally, making lots of people very, VERY mad. After the unveiling of the December issue of Vogue magazine, people were shocked to see Styles sporting various skirts and dresses (and killing it, honestly). This sparked a large discussion on whether or not it’s “okay” for a man to wear a dress… as if men haven’t worn them before? Have they heard of Little Richard? Prince? Billy Porter? Do they not know what kilts are? Men wearing skirts is not anything new, and isn’t something that should be considered “gay” or “wrong” because it isn’t. Saying otherwise is an argument rooted in sexism and homophobia. 

Harry Styles wearing a double-breasted tuxedo jacket and a large, frilly Victorian dress. // Tyler Mitchell, Vogue

In his Vogue article, Styles was quoted saying, “The people that I looked up to in music—Prince and David Bowie and Elvis and Freddie Mercury and Elton John—they’re such showmen. As a kid it was completely mind-blowing. Now I’ll put on something that feels really flamboyant, and I don’t feel crazy wearing it.” 

Styles now wearing a Scottish kilt… a skirt, in other words. // Tyler Mitchell, Vogue

The Vogue cover and the photos taken along with it have sparked commentary from people such as Candace Owens, a FOX News reporter, who said in a tweet, “There is no society that can survive without strong men. The East knows this. In the west, the steady feminization of our men at the same time that Marxism is being taught to our children is not a coincidence. It is an outright attack. Bring back manly men.” …What? How does Marxism/Communism connect to gender norms at all? Was Karl Marx out here sporting some Fenty Beauty lipstick? All Owens is doing by saying this (besides trying to get some publicity) is further enforcing the sexist view of burly, macho men and soft, submissive women. Anything else is Communism!

On the flipside, there has been support for Styles and his dress from people such as NY Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), who said in an Instagram Q&A, “It looks wonderful. The masculine and the feminine elements are balanced beautifully — the hair and jacket styling give me James Dean vibes too.” S0 now we have the viewpoints of an elected government official and a FOX News reporter who thinks a man in a dress is a man in Communist red.

“What’s really exciting is that all of these lines are just kind of crumbling away,” Styles said to Vogue. “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.” 

Prince, just doin’ his thing, Feb. 19, 1985. // Michael Ocha

Society has slowly been moving away from the norm of strong, manly men since the 70’s, where you’d see David Bowie just doing his thing in tights and glitter. In the 80’s, you’d see Boy George, Pete Burns, and Prince (who could “steal your girl wearing her heels”). Now, you have online influencers such as James Charles (the first Covergirl “Coverboy”), RuPaul, and of course, Harry Styles. On the flip side, you have masculine women such as Lady Gaga, who has been pushing pretty much every boundary her entire career (remember the meat dress? I do).


David Bowie at his home, Haddon Hall, at Beckenham, Kent, 20th April 1971. // Daily Mirror

 Even in the realm of us normal, non-famous people, there are e-boys sporting pleated skirts and earrings! I see pictures of little boys playing with princess dolls all the time, but they’re usually posted along with a slew of meanspirited comments targeting a literal child. Feminine men are not new, and they are absolutely here to stay!

I mean, personally, I occasionally cruise the mens area when I’m lookin’ for a new fit. How is that, which is a generally normal thing for a girl to do, any different? Why has there been virtually no uproar when a woman wears a suit to a red carpet event Where is the sexism there? 

It’s almost like… it’s a non-issue for a man to wear a skirt, a dress, or anything “girly” because it’s, to a point, normal. Of course it’s obviously not FULLY normalized like if a woman wore pants (gasp!), but it is more common than you would think. Some men think that is is “gay” to wash their face or show literally any emotion, so there are still SO MANY problems rooted in what is masculine and what is feminine that need to be shattered before men can comfortably be in touch with their “feminine side” without being harrassed, bullied, or attacked.