Sam Smith isn’t known for having a very adventurous style. The singer’s go-to outfits are usually suits or other fashionable menswear. But he didn’t always go for a discreet masculine look. In a recent interview with the Sunday Times, the singer opened up about his style and gender expression.
“People don’t know this, but when I was 17, I remember becoming obsessed with Boy George and Marilyn, and all that. There was one moment in my life where I didn’t own a piece of male clothing, really. I would wear full make-up every day in school, eyelashes, leggings with Dr Martens and huge fur coats — for two and a half years.”
He then added, “I don’t know what the title would be, but I feel just as much woman as I am man.”
This is big news when it comes to representation, but it doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll be seeing the singer rocking more feminine clothing. Someone’s gender identity shouldn’t be reduced to the clothes they wear. However, speaking comfortably about gender fluidity is a huge step.
On the interview, writer Louis Wise notes that Smith is very different from the guy that won four Grammy Awards with his debut album, In the Lonely Hour. Though he was an out singer, Sam Smith shied away from the label of being a “gay singer”, with vague descriptions of his lovers on his very personal lyrics.
In contrast, Wise describes The Thrill of It All, his upcoming album, as “crystal clear”.
“Looking back on it, it was the fear of saying the wrong thing and offending,” Smith said. He was only 19 when he started his first album. Moving to London from a village where he was “literally the only gay in the village”, he was understandably intimidated.
“I wanted to be seen as a singer first, before people spoke about my private life. […] And now it’s changed — I’ve changed. I realize that maybe I don’t mind that title.”
Representation matters, and Sam Smith’s honesty will resonate with any of his fans who might identify the same way. His openness is also powerful, and it definitely has the potential to keep up the conversation on gender.