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Gender-Neutral Clothing: What is it and Why Does it Matter?

Posted on January 02 2018

There’s a new movement in fashion, for kids and adults alike: gender-neutral clothing. As our culture moves away from traditional gender stereotypes and progresses forward, other aspects of society are following suit, including fashion. Gender-neutral clothing allows girls and boys to wear whatever they want, without being forced into a box.

In a nutshell: gender-neutral clothing says “no” to the idea that blue is for boys and pink is for girls. Instead, it says “yes” to the ideas of self-expression, creativity, and acceptance.

When did pink and blue become the norm?

Stereotypical pink and blue clothing hasn’t always dominated the racks. The reality is that babies were dressed in gender-neutral clothing well into the 1800s. At the turn of the 20th century, pastel clothes started filling racks. But, the whole pink and blue separation as we know it today did not yet exist.  Pink was actually thought of as more masculine and blue was seen as soft and dainty; these standards didn’t switch until the 1940s.

The gender division in clothing began to fade during the social changes in the ‘60s. But, once the ‘80s rolled around, it became possible to learn a child’s gender before birth, and the color divide reappeared. It’s stuck around for quite some time, but the times are once again changing.

What are the benefits of gender-neutral clothing?

So, why does gender-neutral clothing matter? Well, it eliminates the pink and blue stereotypical perspective that extends beyond wardrobe. Unisex apparel removes the limits of fashion and can expand your little one’s horizons.

Gender-neutral attire lets kids express themselves freely.

If your daughter loves monster trucks, she should be able to express her love on a tee shirt without having to shop in the “boy’s” section. If your son loves the color pink, he shouldn’t have to hear that it’s “too girly” for him to wear. Unisex clothing lets kids shop freely without being confined to the girl’s or boy’s section at a store. It allows them to express themselves and show their creativity when choosing clothes and putting outfits together. In other words, it allows them to be themselves.

It fights gender stereotypes and opens doors.

When gender stereotypes are displayed through kids clothing, it sends the wrong message to your little ones. It tells them what is ‘expected’ of them as a boy or as a girl and this perspective extends beyond wardrobe. For example, when retailers only market sports-themed clothing to boys, what message does that send your daughter who dreams of being a professional soccer player? What message is being send to your son with tee shirts that read “heartbreaker” or “trouble maker?” Gender-neutral clothing eliminates these stereotypes and closed perspectives to make way for freedom of thought.

It’s uncertain how much clothing type impacts children in early development, but it definitely can’t hurt to keep their options open. Above all, kids should be free to be themselves, regardless of societal rules and expectations. Let kids be kids!