Women in Men's Clothes


Today I want to address the subject of women wearing men’s clothes.

In spite of the Bible’s (Deuteronomy 22.5) urge:

“A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God.”, women have been wearing men’s clothes for many centuries now.

Amazon wearing pants, Attic white-ground alabastron, British Museum, 470 BC As the 470 BC white-ground alabastron from Attica Greece shows, the Amazons were wearing pants many centuries before Christ (it is in the British Museum’s collection).

Cross-dressing is the wearing of clothing and other accoutrement commonly associated with a genderwithin a particular society that is seen as different than the one usually presented by the dresser.[1] Cross-dressing has been used for disguiseperformance art and as a literary trope in modern times and throughout history. (Source: Wikipedia)

What are the motives behind women’s wearing of men’s cloths? Lets see some different cases.

Case 1 (A means to an end): The wife tries to liberate the husband form the prison

In Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio, Act 1 begins with Florestan’s wife, Leonore, came to Rocco the jailers door dressed as a boy seeking employment, and Rocco hired her.

Yvonne Howard as Leonore in Opera Holland Park's 2003 production of Fidelio

Case 2 (Artistic): The woman is a mezzo-soprano and has to dress as a man, before her role is a man

In Act 1 of Richard Strauss’s “Der Rosenkavalier,” Princess Marie Therese von Werdenberg (the Marschallin, the title given to a Field Marshal’s wife) and her much younger lover, Count Octavian Rofrano exchange vows of love. In this case, Octavian is a role sung by a mezzo-soprano. Therefore, the role is male, but the singer is female.

Renee Fleming as the Marschallin and Susan Graham as Octavian

Case 3 (Stylistic): Diane KEaton in Woody Allen’s Anny Hall

This is the moment in Annie Hall, Woody Allen’s classic 1977 romantic comedy, when the world (and Alvy Singer) fell in love with Diane Keaton’s distinctive and quirky style. When the 30-year-old actress had turned up on the set, the film’s costume lady complained to Allen that she looked “crazy” and couldn’t possibly wear her own gear onscreen (as often happened in Woody movies). But Allen replied: “Leave her. She’s a genius. Let’s just leave her alone and let her wear what she wants.” (Source: Style Matters)

Case 4(Love): Alice in the Navy – In a Greek movie of 1961, Alice enters the Naval Academy’s Training Center dressed as a Cadet, in order to meet her lover.

Η Αλικη στο Ναυτικο: Αλικη Βουγιουκλακη και Δημητρης Παπαμιχαηλ

Case 5 (Stylistic): Marlene Dietrich in 1928 was photographed by Alfred Eisenstaedt. The photo was part of a set published by LIFE Magazine.

Marlene Dietrich

Case 6 (Stylistic): Catherine Hepburn ten years later, also in a Alfred Eisenstaedt photo.

Catherine Hepburn

Case 7 (Fashion): Thanks to the “How to spend it” Financial Times’ magazine, I can publish the following pictures, for private non-commercial use only.


Comments are closed.