Dress and Skirts

Real-life ‘boy in the dress’ flaunts high fashion dresses and skirts after Harry Styles inspired him to stop hiding look from pals

A self-professed real-life ‘Boy in the Dress’ has revealed how he flaunts edgy high-fashion dresses and skirts after being inspired to brave the look and stop hiding it from pals by Harry Styles.

Connor Keaney has snapped up bargains from designers including Versace for a tiny fraction of their original price by diligently sifting through bargain bins and over-stuffed second-hand rails.

The bargain-hunting childcare company boss doesn’t conform to traditional gendered clothing norms and is as comfortable donning a skirt or dress as he is wearing trousers – citing One Direction star Styles as a fashion inspiration.

Connor was introduced to unearthing second-hand treasures in charity shops by his mum Bridget Keaney, 58, when he was a child – but would awkwardly stand inside mortified in case any of his mates saw him.

Connor, 26, cites One Direction star Harry Styles as a fashion inspiration
Connor, 26, cites One Direction star Harry Styles as a fashion inspiration

But now the 26-year-old proudly champions a more frugal and environmentally friendly way to clothe himself and, rather than hide away, is on a mission to inspire others.

One of his first looks, a tweed dress paired with white go-go boots, a clutch bag and a faux pearl necklace, cost just £6 and racked up 4,300 likes, shares and comments from delighted Facebook users.

Connor, from Kings Norton, Birmingham, said: “I’m the real-life Boy in the Dress. Wearing skirts and dresses isn’t an issue, clothes are clothes, it’s material to me.

“If I look good and if I want to wear it I’ll wear it. Dressing like this has given me a big confidence boost.

“I picked up the tweed dress from a local Cancer Research shop where everything is between £1 and £3 when the charity shops were open back in November.

“I regularly go in there and spend a lot of money.

Connor reckons his evolving fashion sense changed his outlook
Connor reckons his evolving fashion sense changed his outlook

“I wanted that pattern but in an oversized blazer. When I spotted the dress, which was squirrelled away, I saw it and thought ‘ooh I love it, I’m going to have to get it’. It was such a bargain.

“Since sharing pictures of the dress a lot of people have asked where it’s from and I’ve had to say ‘I honestly can’t tell you as there’s no label in it’.

“The go-go boots are amazing, they just had a little scuff on them but it doesn’t matter.

“I think they’re originally from Boohoo. I love the fact they’ve come from somewhere that’s fast fashion and they’ve gone straight into a charity shop so I was able to get them for £3.

“I managed to breathe new life into them otherwise they may have ended up in landfill.

“I’m only a size seven shoe, I’m very lucky I don’t have big man feet.”

Connor proudly champions a more frugal and environmentally friendly way to clothe himself
Connor proudly champions a more frugal and environmentally friendly way to clothe himself

Connor, who wears a size 8-10 in women’s clothing, said he felt empowered to dress this way after seeing more people identify as non-binary.

The 5ft 10 fashion lover also said he’s inspired by celebrities such as Harry Styles, who famously wore a dress on the cover of Vogue, smashing gender barriers through fashion.

Connor said: “My style has definitely evolved over time. I wasn’t very confident when I was younger with a lot of things.

“I came out as part of the LGBTQ+ community when I was 16 and then I hid how I wanted to dress.

“In more recent times you’ve got people who are non-binary, you’ve got Harry Styles who is a straight man but wears whatever he wants, and seeing that just boosted my confidence.

“I don’t believe in labels, clothes are clothes, it’s just material.”

Connor wears a size 8-10 in women's clothing
Connor wears a size 8-10 in women’s clothing

Despite being embarrassed at the prospect of wearing second-hand clothes when he was younger, Connor said it was his evolving fashion sense that changed his outlook.

Connor said: “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.

“In school it was always ‘eugh you shop in charity shops you’re a tramp’ and it really put me off.

“I would be really embarrassed to go into charity shops and if my friends saw me I was like ‘oh no’ but now I totally respect and appreciate it.

“She worked hard for it and she was also a trailblazer in terms of shopping in this way.

“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.

“Straight away it sparked an interest in shopping in charity shops.

“From that day on I’d say 90{a38ddb2ded6b05e28c8ae73a8db0e271c21f7193684bd9e4e28acae292f81d99} of my wardrobe is from charity shops, the only things I buy new is underwear, tracksuit bottoms and tops to wear to work.”

Connor wants people to push prejudices to one side and give second-hand shopping a chance
Connor wants people to push prejudices to one side and give second-hand shopping a chance

Connor is now sharing his finds on social media and has started a new series called ‘Style Steals’ that recreates a TV character’s iconic look using second-hand finds.

The first two are from smash-hit Channel 4 show It’s A Sin, with outfits created in the style of Ritchie Tozer and Jill Baxter.

Connor said: “I’ll usually just go into a shop when I’m out and about [in normal times].

“Sometimes I’ll go out with my drag queen friends, who wear whatever they want, and we’ll have days dedicated to having a big shop, which is quite a nice day out.

“We stick to Birmingham, but if I go away on a city break the first thing I’ll do is take a look at the charity shops.

“I’m quite a bargain hunter so I don’t set myself a budget. Usually I buy whatever catches my eyes and I take it from there.

“With Style Steals I do research and, for the time being, I look at online charity shops for what I need.”

Connor snapped up a real Versace top for £15 from a charity shop
Connor snapped up a real Versace top for £15 from a charity shop

Connor is urging people to push any prejudices to one side and give second-hand shopping a chance.

Connor said: “I used to be one of those people freaked by the idea of musty, smelly piles of clothes worn by old people.

“I would think ‘oh it’s second-hand, someone’s died in that’.

“If people go to vintage shops or search vintage stuff online they’re going to find the most amazing things [and shopping this way is] good for the environment because you’re recycling it.

“I picked up a real Versace top for £15 from a charity shop, I nearly died.

“All you’ve got to do is put it in a washing machine or get it dry cleaned, which costs nothing.”