Connor Keaney considers Harry Styles his fashion icon and was especially inspired by the singer's Vogue cover, in which he wore a dress.
Fashion is a very fun way one can choose to express themselves. But society has certain expectations and limitations as to how people should dress and what they can and cannot wear. Throwing them off guard are certain watershed moments when heteronormativity is disrupted. One such moment was when Harry Styles opted to wear a dress for the cover of Vogue magazine. It sparked a conversation about how clothes are not gendered, people merely use them to express gender. While he was not the first man to wear a dress, he inspired many others to expand their horizons when it came to fashion and expression.
Among the many people who Harry Styles inspired was 26-year-old Connor Keaney from Kings Norton, Birmingham. Keaney likens himself to the protagonist of the children's book by David Williams and calls himself the real-life "Boy in the Dress." He thoroughly believes that fashion should not be labeled because it is just "material." Keaney does not conform to gendered fashion and rocks skirts and dresses just as he would trousers. Speaking to Daily Mail, he explained how he felt empowered and more "confident" to evolve his style after seeing more and more people identify as non-binary. He just came to terms with feeling more comfortable in "feminine clothing."
"If I look good and I want to wear it I'll wear it," Keaney stated. "Dressing like this has given me a big confidence boost." He is an enthusiastic bargain shopper and knows how to thrift fashionable pieces from over-stuffed second-hand rails and bargain bins. He credits his mother for what is now an environmentally friendly yet fashionable wardrobe. "My mom used to shop in charity shops, it's always just been me and my mom, she struggled and she did her best with getting me what she could," he explained. "In school, it was always 'ugh you shop in charity shops you're a tramp' and it really put me off."
For the longest time, he would not be caught dead shopping at a bargain store. He was embarrassed to even enter the store, lest any of his friends saw him shopping there. "As I got older and I started getting into more fashion and vintage stuff at around the age of 15 I went into a charity shop and I found a brand new pair of Converse for £4," Keaney said of how his interest in thrifting took off. "I'd say 90 percent of my wardrobe is from charity shops, the only things I buy new is underwear, tracksuit bottoms, and tops to wear to work," the childcare company boss said. He shared that his favorite place to shop was a small store called cancer research where everything is priced between £1-3.
As a 16-year-old, Keaney came out as part of the LGBTQ+ community and hopes to empower people. "I have the absolute most amazing and supportive family," he told Bored Panda. "When I got into fashion and makeup, they congratulated me on how beautiful I was and how amazing I looked, so it was no big deal, they love me for me and the person I am. I love my whole family with all my heart—they are incredible! My biggest supporter is my mom and I can’t even write in words how amazing that is." Keaney hopes his way of expressing himself can help others who struggle with their identity and insecurities.
“Be you, be proud, and believe in yourself," he tells people who are struggling. "I enjoy being fashionable and creative but most of all, I love being environmentally friendly. Recycling is just amazing, and why not look amazing while doing it!"