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The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

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The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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Alex Borg poses for a photo with an accordion on Soldiers and Sailors Lawn.
Alex Borg: Her accordion anchors a ‘no-man Jimmy Buffett band’
By Patrick Swain, Culture Editor • April 12, 2024
Opinion | CPCs, get off our campus
By India Krug, Senior Staff Columnist • April 12, 2024

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Alex Borg poses for a photo with an accordion on Soldiers and Sailors Lawn.
Alex Borg: Her accordion anchors a ‘no-man Jimmy Buffett band’
By Patrick Swain, Culture Editor • April 12, 2024
Opinion | CPCs, get off our campus
By India Krug, Senior Staff Columnist • April 12, 2024

Long Story Short | What is femininity in fashion?

Long Story Short is a biweekly lifestyle blog that touches on personal experiences in college that relate to a broader social scale.
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Thalia Sifnakis | Senior Staff Illustrator

Almost 20 years ago today, Carrie Bradshaw uttered the iconic words, “Men I may not know, but shoes, shoes I know.” I can relate to this quote as I love fashion, almost concerningly so.

Although I spend an excruciating amount of time picking out my day’s outfit and admit to having a chronic shopping obsession, this was a new and very expensive hobby that formed years ago. 

Growing up with an overly competitive and athletic brother, I was never that much into fashion and makeup. Instead, I focused my time on trying a new sport every season while reading and studying to keep my grades up. 

Every morning, I would simply pull out an Under Armour T-shirt and whatever shoes were lying by the door from the day before and tread to school with no worries about my appearance. 

My carefree way of living continued until the dreaded days of middle school, where in addition to being the new kid, I started to notice that I wasn’t dressing as “cool” as the other girls. Almost instantly giving in to peer pressure, I dyed my hair blonde, started wearing contacts and decided to update my wardrobe. 

I then made my parents take me to the mall to see what Brandy Melville clothes I could fit into and test how many pairs of Lululemon leggings could fit in my wardrobe. Then, equipped with a tan off-the-shoulder sweater, some Victoria’s Secret Pink sweatshirts and a pair of Nike AirBalances, I began to look forward to planning my outfits. 

A few years later, during quarantine, I decided to pick up sewing as a hobby and would spend hours looking at fabrics, pattern designs and outfits on Pinterest. The next year, I got a job at TJ Maxx. The job came with a 10% off employee discount, as well as my own debit card. That is where my interest in fashion and buying clothes took off. 

Although I once hated skirts and dresses, I now find them being the first item I reach for on warm summer days. While I once cringed at the idea of wearing pink and bows, I now find myself accessorizing with them throughout my outfits. 

As comments about your appearance seem to just naturally come with being a woman, I also got comments from friends and family members saying how proud they are of me for dressing “girly” and finally “embracing my femininity.”

Although these comments would bother me, I could never really figure out why. I began to realize I had to challenge the way I thought about femininity in fashion. 

Many things about gender roles and femininity can be confusing. In the future, I intend to focus on my career. Truthfully, I don’t want kids. Therefore, dressing in a more “feminine” way almost seems contradictory to me. 

I realized that loving fashion isn’t about dressing to the newest trend or fitting into a stereotype. Fashion is instead an art form and something that transcends gender. 

Some of the pieces today considered more “girly,” such as skirts and heels, were first worn by men before transitioning to be considered more feminine pieces. 

When I hear people say to dress like a girl to embrace femininity, there is a truth to that for many people. However, at the end of the day, clothes are just cloth made of fibers and shouldn’t say anything about gender. 

For me, fashion is about freedom and experimenting and wearing the things I like. I love being able to wake up in the morning and have the ability to wear a flowy skirt or cargo pants. By putting fashion into this bubble of gender roles and designating certain items to be masculine or feminine, we can miss out on so many opportunities to dress freely and, in my case, max out my credit card. 

Throughout my day, I see all sorts of outfits, hair and makeup that people wear in order to express themselves, and personally, I have a very good male friend who wears crop tops and pink. He will often get comments on it, but the wonderful thing about fashion is that all it is is pieces of fabric. 

At its core, fashion is self-expression. We witness this everywhere, from the person walking across Forbes Avenue in a hoodie and sweatpants to a businessman in a suit going to a long work day. Walking along next to them is me, in a pair of jeans with a sweater, ready to take on the day. 

About the Contributor
Emma Hannan, Staff Writer