Society and social media, for the most part, have set the current standards for people when it comes to dressing ourselves up. The rule we are inclined to believe is that even something as simple as clothes should be sorted out by our gender if you want to fit in with the “right” standards set by modern times.

However, there are always people who go against said stereotypes by keeping their outlook in life open and free as they go out of their way to experiment with their looks and clothes, expressing themselves without looking to fit in the with current “norm” and by just being who they want to be regardless of society’s opinion on them.

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Connor Keaney is a 26-year-old from Kings Norton, Birmingham in the United Kingdom

Image credits: conjlk

Bored Panda reached out to Connor with some more questions. First, we wanted to find out about the major influences in Connor’s life, hoping to find out what might’ve helped him to develop and define his current style.

“The major influencers who helped create the style I have today come from all different eras of time. The first is my mom, she introduced me to charity shops and is fabulously beautiful while wearing it. Second is someone who is very in the know now, which is Harry styles, him being a straight male and wearing dresses just amazes me and gives me every ounce of confidence. The last person is a person from the story ‘the boy in the dress’ by David Williams, it’s a beautiful story with a very strong-willed character and I read that book every few months to help me.”

Keaney is convinced that clothing is genderless, and proves to us that it might be time to get rid of the old gender stereotypes, especially when it comes to something as simple as clothing

Image credits: conjlk

We also wanted to find out what led to Keaney’s realization that he was just as comfortable in “feminine” clothing too.

“It was coming up to my birthday and I’ve always dreamed of an outfit to wear for a photo near a mural in Birmingham city center titled ‘proud bab.’ Every time I tried on ‘manly’ outfits I just didn’t feel comfy or cool. I searched high and low and then come across a beautiful black midi skirt in a charity shop and it sparked an all-black outfit. That’s the picture you can see on my Instagram (@conjlk) as well! Wearing that, I have never felt so confident, beautiful, sassy, comfy, and cool, and I will never look back!”

Next, we asked Connor about what he thought were the biggest misconceptions some people may have about cross-dressing or gender-fluid individuals.

“There are a lot of misconceptions regarding wearing women’s clothing, I have come across the main one being I’m transgender and I want to be a woman. This isn’t the case—I am a very big ally to the trans community but I am extremely happy with the skin and body I am in. Men sometimes just enjoy wearing women’s clothes. The other one is that people do it for attention and 5 minutes of fame, also not true, the reason I have done stories is to help people and spread the word of positivity in these very strange times in the world. I wear ‘women’s’ clothes because I appreciate fashion and it makes me feel comfortable. I still stand with what I said before, clothes are just material, so why should they be gendered?”

He believes, that clothing is just a simple material that should be worn without any additional labels

Image credits: conjlk

We were also curious about whether Keaney’s friends and family were supportive of his decisions when it came to clothing, makeup, etc.

“I have the absolute most amazing and supportive family. I came out as part of the LGBTQ+ community to my family when I was around 16/17. Most of them knew since I was small so was no surprise. 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.”

Coming out as a part of the LGBTQ+ community can be very hard for some people. Therefore we wanted to ask Connor if he could give any advice to the people who might be struggling with their identity right now.

“If you are struggling with your identity, the advice I give to you is to breathe, there is no rush. Regardless of your age, never stress yourself over your identity. Take a step back and relax, use fashion, makeup, photography, etc. to play around with your identity until you feel comfortable. If you need to, do what I did and purchase a few items and try them on in your bedroom until you feel that confident you can wear them out. Reach out to people who you know will understand and help you and be supportive. If you ever need support, always know that my inbox is open.”

Connor mentioned that he is mostly inspired by the former member of the famous band One Direction, Harry Styles, who is known to be described as a non-binary fashion icon, wearing both skirts and pants regardless of his gender

Image credits: conjlk

We mentioned this before, but we couldn’t help but notice Connor’s great sense of style, so we wanted to know if he has any tips for looking great!

“My top tip for looking great is confidence. If you can beam confidence, I can promise you that not only will you feel beautiful, everyone else will see that beauty too. The biggest compliment I get online is that my confidence is beaming and it’s sexy! Like I said, take your time in finding your confidence because when you do, it’s beautiful. Like RuPaul says, “How the hell you going to love someone else if you can’t love yourself?”

Keaney also mentioned being environmentally friendly when it came to his style, so we wanted to know if he had any tips on being sustainable.

“I have always been environmentally friendly when it comes to fashion. Apart from underwear and other little bits for work, 80% of my wardrobe is recycled. I try to steer clear of fast fashion companies and only use charity shops, vintage shops, and swap shops. My favorite charity shop is a small one by my house called cancer research and everything in there is between 1-3 pounds, it’s incredible!”

Keaney not only wears dresses, skirts, and any other clothes and accessories that might be considered “feminine,” but he also found a way to express himself in the art of makeup too

Image credits: conjlk

“My second favorite way to be environmentally friendly is to bring all the amazing clothes I own and maybe don’t use or had pictures in and bring them to a swap shop. The best swap shop I go to is located in Milton Keynes and run by a beautiful girl called Lauren Shilly. You bring all your unwanted clothes and simply swap them with other people, you can find some amazing stuff! So if you can, please donate your unwanted clothes to a charity shop or clothes bank or follow @miltonkeynesswapshop and get involved in a clothes swap, it’s great for the environment!”

Most of Connor’s wardrobe comes from thrift stores, and it seems that he has a very good eye for finding hidden gems, so for those of you who are thinking about going thrift shopping, don’t you worry, Connor has some tips to share as well!

“When it comes to finding gems in a charity shop, I suggest checking every rail and every nook and cranny. I search every single rail and every shelf till I find something amazing. If something is too big or small, I still get it, but just get it tailored to be perfect. One other thing is if you see something you like, BUY IT! Believe me, if you leave it and go back to get it, it’s usually gone and it horrible. What’s the worst that can happen? You buy it, don’t like it, and just give it back to the charity? Still means you are recycling clothes!”

He hopes his way of expressing himself can help other people who struggle with their identity and insecurities too

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As part of LGBTQ+ community he hopes to empower people

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“I believe clothes shouldn’t be gendered, they are just material”

Image credits: conjlk

“Be you, be proud, and believe In yourself. 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!”

Image credits: conjlk