Clothes makers and retailers often divide their wearable wares into two basic categories: men and women. Different cultures define them in their own ways, and different standards come into and out of fashion over time. American fashion has gradually loosened restrictions over the past few decades, mostly for what women can wear, but the divisions remain strong.
Despite this status quo, unisex clothing has been around for a long time. The ways in which people use the term itself have evolved over time and continue to evolve. In this article, we’ll explain what it all really means for different people and why this category’s existence is valuable.
What is Unisex Clothing?
Most clothing is traditionally designated to either the male sex — suits, pants — or the female sex — blouses, skirts. Unisex clothing ignores this sex-based binary. The “uni” prefix is used here in the same sense as “universal.” Clothes in this category are designed to fit and feel good on anyone, regardless of their sex.
Nowadays, t-shirts and pants are so commonplace that most people don’t associate them with the male sex. This example shows how our definition of what counts as unisex clothing can change over time. Designers are also increasingly creating clothes with little regard for the traditional separation between men and women. They’re harder to pin down in a sentence, but many feature interesting combinations of characteristics from male-centric and female-centric articles.
Beyond Sex and Gender
For a long time, the common perspective in America made no distinction between sex and gender. Your biology dictated your presentation of yourself to the world, and that was that. Researchers, theorists, and thinkers have deepened our understanding of sex and gender in recent decades. This subject is too complex to describe in great detail within this article, but we have a basic summary here:
- Sex and gender are now recognized as distinct. The former is steeped in biology, while the latter is attached to cultural practices and perspectives.
- The male-female binary is a limited and inaccurate representation of human biology. The body may vary in many different ways from birth and even throughout one’s life.
- The man-woman binary is similarly just plain wrong. Gender is now commonly seen as a spectrum, with an array of identities falling within it and even outside it.
Again, these bullet points are hardly a complete picture. We encourage you to research intersex and transgender identities if you wish to learn more.
Gender, Sex, and Clothing
We went into so much detail on sex and gender because clothing is so heavily tied to both. A person’s fashion choices can be obvious indicators of a person’s relationship to their own sex and gender. They can be so overt that even total strangers may develop an idea of your identity from a single glance.
Unisex clothing can be a way of bucking stereotypes. You could dress and style yourself in such a way that you don’t slot so neatly into one side of the binary or the other. “Tomboys,” women who sport men’s fashion, are a long-standing example. They can also be a way of affirming and presenting one’s own nonbinary identity. When traditionally gendered clothing just doesn’t feel representative enough, this kind of outfit may feel more right.
Of course, a person can still enjoy unisex clothing even if they identify as a cisgender man or woman. The whole point is that anyone can wear it for any reason they want. Your reason for sporting such fashion can be as deep as “it better matches my identity” or as simple as “it looks good.”
Unisex Clothing at Your WDW Store
Your WDW Store offers a vast selection of unisex clothing that ranges from shirts and pants to jackets and socks, plus so much more. All these outfits and accessories feature your favorite Disney characters and theme park attractions. Feel free to check them out.