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Gendered Attire Throughout History

Gendered Attire Throughout History

A Satirical Concept of Fashion 

By Brooklin Painter 

This spring quarter’s fashion lineup at Walla Walla University should include the original concepts of fashion. Men need to go back to wearing high heels, makeup, loin cloths, the color pink, and carrying handbags. These are symbols of masculinity. Men no longer dress like men and women no longer dress like women. Men and women’s fashion over the last 200 years has changed dramatically between genders. In today’s society, fashion has completely reversed from its original purpose.  

High heels date back to the 15th century in Persia. They were made for male soldiers in the army to wear while riding their horses. The heel on the shoe was designed for better accessibility and security in the stirrups of a saddle. [1] 

High heels migrated to Europe in the 17th century, via trading routes. Noblemen, princes, and kings such as Louis XIV, took a liking to the heels and began to wear them as fashion statements. They symbolized masculinity, wealth/status, and power. High heels emanate masculinity, which is why men should be proud to wear high heels again! [2] 

Though there is no official date for when makeup began to be worn, researchers suggest the painting of faces first began around 3100 B.C. in Ancient Egypt. [3] The Egyptian Dynasty was captivated by painting their faces with different pigments, powders, paints, dyes, and pastes. The most common ingredient for cosmetics was kohl. [4] It was used to paint around the eyes as eyeliner.  

Egyptian women, men, and children alike wore makeup to hide wrinkles and infections from the hot and dry air climate. [5] Makeup has been around for thousands of years. It is a non-gender specific way to express oneself and cover up the hideousness of one’s face. 

The G-string, commonly known as a thong, originally dates back to African tribes, [7] where men wore cloth around their hips to cover their groin area. Men should be inclined to go back to their roots since men are supposed to dress like men. They should wear nothing but a G-string to cover their manhood. It would save them money and would allow them to show off their physique. 

The G-string was first became fashionable in the 1920’s. “The letter in G-string stands for groin” said Daniel Alexander, a writer from Articles Factory. They were first marketed in Chicago and became very popular, in part as lingerie. They were originally non-gender specific, meaning everyone wore them. They dressed in them to create a more comfortable feel and enhance the groin area. [6] 

The color pink was originally associated for boys and the color blue was for girls in the 1800’s. Since pink derives from the color red, it was said to be a more masculine, strong, and aggressive color. Little boys were often dressed in pink since it was “more suitable for their gender” said The Infants’ Department, a trade journal in 1918. [8] 

Nowadays, men wear the color blue because manufacturers in the 1920’s decided to reverse the gendered colors. [9] Men can no longer wear pink without being called feminine. But little does anyone know, pink used to symbolize masculinity. Since pink and blue has been switched between genders, they no longer have a significance. 

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The handbag was originally made for both men and women. Anna Johnson, a writer from Love to Know Magazine said, “bags were used to carry weapons, flint, tools, food, and eventually money. Egyptian burial chambers of the Old Kingdom (2686-2160 B.C.E.) contain double-handled leather bags designed to be suspended from sticks.” [10] 

Men only began to stop carrying handbags when pockets were sewn into their paints in the 17th century. Therefore, they no longer had a use to carry purses. [11] Now men are forevermore stuck with nothing to do but put their hands in their pockets and women do not get usable pockets at all. 

Looking over the history of gendered fashion, society has clearly strayed from the correct purpose of attire. We must return to our masculine roots, as men no longer dress like men. Everyone needs to dress to their gender! 


  1. Marsh, A. (2017, July 12). High heeled shoes were originally created for men. Teen Vogue.  
  1. The history of high heels. (2021, February 2). Love Happens Magazine.  
  1. Walters, J. M. (2010, February 11). where did makeup originate? a glance at the history of makeup. EzineArticles.  
  1. Eldridge, L. (2015). Face paint: The story of makeup. In Google Books. Abrams.  
  1. Smith, C. A. (2017, June 27). Ancient Egypt – Beauty, Makeup and Hygiene | World History.  
  1. Alexander, D. (2020, June 5). A brief history of men’s G-string.; ECommerce Articles.  
  1. Ibid
  1. Bhattacharjee, P. (2018, January 12). The complicated gender history of pink. CNN.  
  1. Ibid
  1. Johnson, A. (n.d.). Fashions of handbags and purses. LoveToKnow.  
  1. Johnson, A. (2002). Handbags: The power of the purse. In Google Books. Workman Publishing.  

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