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The Revolution of Men's Fashion

The Peacock Revolution's influence on men's sexuality and gender norms.

Published onDec 01, 2022
The Revolution of Men's Fashion

From the late 1960s throughout the 1970s, men’s attire began to shift in America. Influenced by the Peacock Revolution that sprang up in the 1960’s, men’s fashion shifts from the conservative tailored suit to more form-fitting colorful clothing. This was primarily seen in young men attempting to differentiate themselves from the adult clothing style and their overall lifestyle.1 They began to turn to more vibrant and bold styles of clothing, eye-catching patterns and many accessories.2 Accessories such as flashy necklaces and rings, which were more common among women, began more prevalent in men’s fashion. They shifted from neutral tones to bright and colorful ones, dressed in colors from head to toe. They viewed this new fashion style as a source of entertainment and a way to fully express their identities.

Many men experimented with new accessories, such as the one above, to complement their clothing.

Many men experimented with new accessories, such as the one above, to complement their clothing. Image Source: “Male Plumage”, Photographed by Enrico Sarsini, LIFE Magazine Sept. 25, 1970 in Google Books

Inspired by London’s fashion trends, young Americans continued to experiment with different styles than those considered the norm. They began to include futuristic concepts in their clothing, such as space-themed clothing items and accessories. This sudden change in men’s fashion, brought on by the Peacock Revolution, challenged the America’s views and ideas on manhood and worked towards closing the gap between men’s and women’s attire.3

Influence on Gender Roles

As more and more men began to branch out to other styles, the gap between men and women’s clothing began to close. Many women had also begun to branch out from their typical attire, which often included skirts of appropriate length and covering shirts. However, they also began to dress in the same type of clothing as men, such as the bell-bottomed pants and vests of different colors and patterns. Another common thing between men and women’s fashion, as seen in the image above, was the use of accessories such as rings as a staple for the outfit. Many advertisements would show both men and women wearing the same outfit, which would often disturb many men as they saw women dressing in the same clothing as them. However, these advertisements and production of unisex attire helped bring awareness to the shifting gender notions. This helped paint an image of both men and women on the same level.4

Influence on Men’s Sexuality and the Gay Panic

The Peacock Revolution brought about a threat to American traditions of masculinity, as it allowed young men to rebel against their supposed gender roles. In American society, men are taught from a young age how to behave and dress in order to assert their masculinity. This was often done to demonstrate their dominance over women and their power over other minorities within society. They would wear conservative neutral suits that would represent their power within their workplace and in society. If any man demonstrated other behavioral or identity traits, their sexuality would be called into question. As more and more young men began to rebel and dress in colorful, form-fitting clothing, people began to question their sexuality. They would begin to accuse them of being homosexual, which American men or even families would view as a mental illness or disease. Homosexuality was not accepted in American society, it was seen as a state and religious issue5 . As young men continued to participate in the new fashion trends such as growing out their hair and styling it, more people began to panic that they were becoming homosexual and were flaunting it to others. They believed that in doing so they were influencing more young men, which would make them think that it was acceptable for them to participate as well. This influence became widespread to where magazines such as The Advocate, a gay magazine, began to promote this change in style. They would advertise different items of clothing, and would shine the light on their designers.6 They would recognize many of the designers who have contributed to this change, and work as an inspiration for other young men. However, many people began to blame many fashion companies for their influence on these young men and the contribution to the rise of homosexuality.7 Despite all of the controversy surrounding the new style, many men continued to participate in this new revolution, ignoring the people questioning their sexuality.


The Peacock Revolution brought awareness to men’s fashion and its tie to men’s sexuality. It also worked in breaching the gap between society's gender norms within the United States. This introduction of colorful clothing, patterns, and accessories helped men branch out from their normal day-to-day clothing and allowed them to experiment with new styles. They could now express their identities through the flamboyant clothing, which in turn could influence other young men to branch out as well. Different ethnic groups and women could also experiment with different clothing. This revolution primarily helped men feel more comfortable with fashion as they began to show more interest in new fashion trends. This fashion revolution opened the door for other fashion trends in the future, where they could come up with new ideas and change their views on fashion.

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