Editor’s Note: This post is from the original Genderplayful Community Blog, back when we were also a marketplace.
Chinese fabrics hanging on a store rack, lit by a halogen lamp.

Photograph by Jakob Montrasio on Flickr, used under a CC-BY licence.

新年快乐! To everyone whose culture celebrates the spring festival, happy new year!

While contemporary Western modes of clothing have become part of globalised wardrobes in many societies, traditional fashion is often worn on holidays, and some people also deliberately elect to make these garments a part of their everyday closet as a political statement.

However, one problem is that traditional clothing tends to be treated as though it exists in historical stasis – globalisation stifled its organic evolution – and, as such, the garb may reflect outmoded understandings of gender as a binary. For example, certain kinds of clothing, like the cheongsam or the Aboyne dress, are coded explicitly feminine, and there is a lot more resistance to androgynous or genderbending approaches thereto.

Does your culture have different types of traditional dress for different genders? Is there a traditional dress that is particularly dear to you, or which you particularly enjoy wearing? How do you negotiate conventional restrictions on what kind of dress you can wear in your culture? Do you know of any modern, genderplayful takes on these articles of clothing?

And can you point me in the direction of interesting qipao designs? ;)

7 thoughts on “Gendercultural

  1. Makenzie C-J

    I’m an Alaskan- not an Alaskan native, but an Alaskan- and I’m fond of the kuspuk, a traditional Yupik garment that is sort of a jacket/dress combo with a big front pocket. There are men and women’s styles, but it’s basically just a brightly colored cotton hoodie with or without a ruffled skirt, worn over pants. Definitely haven’t seen any guys wearing the skirt version, but I hear a few women favor the short version.

  2. Betty Nikia

    “However, one problem is that traditional clothing tends to be treated as though it exists in historical stasis – globalisation stifled its organic evolution…”

    yes. this.

  3. Mixter Eden

    Background: I am Indian, born in Maddhya Pradesh, but moved to the states when I was 3. I go back to visit as much as possible. :)

    I’ve always thought that the clothing that Indian culture dictates for men is quite similar to clothing dictated for women — with women having a plethora of additional options.

    (Thought that just occured to me: transmisogyny in India is enormous and if someone is read as a man but is wearing clothing dictated for women — a sari comes to mind — I can’t imagine the hell they go through. People in those situations are referred to by one of the most offensive slurs I know “h***a” — I can’t even think it without recoiling — and treated so horribly that even if I were to list them here, it would be inconceivable).

    Another thought that this post brought up to me is that of hairstyles and the coding of gender in said hairstyles. A while ago, while discussing cultural appropriation in hairstyles, I looked up traditional Indian hairstyles.

    These are the “approved” hairstyle for Indian people (possibly only from a Hindu perspective).

    Women have long straight black hair that is either left down their back or in a juDa (a bun.)

    Men have their hair in a universal short hairstyle — I don’t know it’s name but it’s everywhere. Also, they all have the same mustache.

    Widows have their head shaved.

    Holy men have dreadlocks.

    And that’s mostly all I can think of. :

    I’d love to express my gender while still being true to my culture. But I don’t know how.

    (Unless genderplayful can make these clothes for me

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