• Thursday, July 18, 2024
businessday logo


4 items men used first now used by women

Gender norms and societal expectations have long influenced the world of fashion, dictating what is appropriate for men and women to wear. However, many iconic fashion items, originally designed for men, have been adopted and reinterpreted by women, becoming an integral part of their wardrobes.These items have transcended gender boundaries, offering women a new language of self-expression and personal style. This phenomenon is a testament to the dynamic and evolving nature of fashion, where trends and styles are constantly being redefined and reimagined.

The shift from men’s to women’s fashion was often driven by a combination of practicality, economics, and cultural influence. In some cases, manufacturers discovered that certain items were more functional or appealing to women, leading to a natural transition in the target market. In other instances, companies sought to tap into the lucrative women’s market, adapting their products to meet the growing demand for women’s fashion. This complex interplay of factors has resulted in a fascinating array of fashion items that have crossed gender lines, each with its own unique history and cultural significance.

High heels

High heels, typically associated with femininity and glamour, actually have their origins in practicality and masculinity. Originating in the 10th century as footwear for Persian soldiers, high heels served a functional purpose, providing stability during horseback riding. Centuries later, high heels made their way to Europe, where they were embraced by male aristocrats as symbols of status and authority. However, as fashion trends shifted, women began to adopt high heels for their own, initially seeking the illusion of smaller feet and later embracing them as symbols of elegance and sophistication. Despite their shared history, high heels eventually became synonymous with femininity, leading men to abandon them in the 18th century.


Stockings, a type of clothing that covers the feet and legs, were initially worn by men. They were first worn by men in the 9th century, with upper-class men wearing white or coloured stockings and poorer men wearing black. Women did not start wearing stockings until the 18th century. Over time, stockings became associated with women, and men stopped wearing them. This transition occurred between the 16th and 20th centuries, with the 19th century marking the point when men ceased wearing stockings altogether. Today, stockings are primarily worn by women, and are often paired with panties as pantyhose.


The association of pink with girls and blue with boys is a relatively recent phenomenon. In fact, until the mid-20th century, the opposite was true: boys wore pink and girls wore blue. This colour switch occurred gradually over the course of the 20th century, influenced by a combination of cultural, social, and economic factors.

Prior to the 1900s, babies of both genders wore white dresses, making it difficult to determine their sex at a glance. The introduction of coloured baby clothes around the turn of the century marked a significant change. Initially, no specific colour was associated with either gender, but by World War I, pink had become the preferred colour for boys due to its perceived masculinity and power, while blue was considered more feminine and suitable for girls.

The shift away from dresses for boys occurred after World War II, but pink remained a popular colour for boys until the 1960s. It was then that feminist movements began to influence parenting choices, with some parents opting to dress their daughters in pink to counter traditional gender stereotypes. Around the same time, the garment industry started marketing pink clothes specifically to girls and blue to boys, cementing the modern colour association we know today. This marketing strategy was largely driven by economic interests, as it encouraged parents to purchase separate clothes for children of different genders, rather than sharing hand-me-downs.

Disposal sanitary napkins

A nurse on the World War I battlefield in France developed disposable sanitary napkins. This innovation was inspired by Ben Franklin’s bandage design for treating severe bleeding, which was initially used to treat wounded soldiers. The napkins were made from readily available materials like wood pulp, making them absorbent and easy to dispose of. Initially, American nurses used these pads to manage their menstrual flow during the war. Later, in 1921, Kotex began mass-producing and marketing the product as sanitary napkins for women.