Bring Back Manly Men

The War Against Harry Styles in a Dress

Photo courtesy of

Emma Stokic, News Decoder Ambassador

Harry Styles made history in November 2020, but this time, it wasn’t for a sold-out show or a best selling album. The British singer, songwriter, and actor became not only the first male pictured alone on the cover of Vogue Magazine but also the first to do it in a dress. 

     His personal expression provoked a controversial outburst. Candace Owens, a known conservative political activist and author, initiated the chant of “Bring back manly men” as a reaction to seeing Styles wear a dress—a feminine clothing piece.

     “There is no society that can survive without strong men,” Owens said. “The East knows this. In the west, the steady feminization of our men at the same time that Marxism is being taught to our children is not a coincidence. It is an outright attack.”

     Fans were quick to jump to defend Styles and bombard Owens with sarcastic comments about her wearing a suit. If men shouldn’t wear dresses, should women wear suits? “Bring back feminine women!!!” the comment reads. “A woman shouldn’t be wearing a suit!” Styles himself responded to the haters by posting a photo with Variety Magazine captioned with Owens’ signature phrase: “bring back manly men.” 

     In a segment called “Things to Avoid in 2021,” Fox News Anchor Raymond Arroyo jumped on the bandwagon of bashing Styles’ “gender-bending wardrobe.”

     “Harry Styles, please stick to Armani menswear or at least pants,” Arroyo said. “You look ridiculous and you’re not breaking any new ground. David Bowie did this decades before you were even conceived.”

      In his Vogue profile, Styles, who has enjoyed dressing up since he was a child, explains his thought process of exploring unconventional attire for men.

     “I think if you get something that you feel amazing in, it’s like a superhero outfit,” Styles said. “Clothes are there to have fun with and experiment with and play with. When you take away ‘There’s clothes for men and there’s clothes for women,’ once you remove any barriers, obviously you open up the arena in which you can play.”

     Gucci designer Alessandro Michele who created Styles’ attire for the photoshoot reinforces the choices of his friend.

     “He’s really in touch with his feminine side because it’s something natural,” Michele said. “And he’s a big inspiration to a younger generation—about how you can be in a totally free playground when you feel comfortable. I think that he’s a revolutionary.”

    Among thousands of supporters, well-known and respected figures such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez expressed their praise for Styles. 

     “Some people are mad at it because some folks are very sensitive to examining and exploring gender roles in society,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “Perhaps for some people it provokes some anger or insecurity around masculinity/femininity/etc. If it does, then maybe that’s part of the point. Sit with that reaction and think about it, examine it, explore it, engage it, and grow with it.”

     Just like music, art, and makeup, clothes are a mode of expression. Should a personal choice cause a cultural war? Do clothes really belong to only one gender? 

     “I’ll go in shops sometimes, and I just find myself looking at the women’s clothes thinking they’re amazing,” Styles said. “It’s like anything—anytime you’re putting barriers up in your own life, you’re just limiting yourself. I’ve never really thought too much about what it means—it just becomes this extended part of creating something.”