During a requisite conversation with a close male friend some three months ago, he divulged what seemed like the opinion that wouldn’t end about the way in which he would dress had he been born a woman. I didn’t ask for the assessment but that didn’t matter. Before this particular conversation, he had been eager to let me know that if he were me, he’d have worn pumps in place of cape shoes virtually every time I brought my Alexander Wang pals out for a spin. When I’d wear unusual silhouettes in even more unusual fabrics, like a chartreuse sack shaped something, his response to the wears would never fall along the line of “that’s what you’re wearing?” but would instead reflect his inner fashion female. “If it were me,” he’d say, “I’d have opted for a classic pair of denim shorts with a cool airy blouse.” He finished this sentiment with, “it’s so easy for you girls.”
I looked at him in bewilderment. On the one hand, how much longer would he continue to pretend that he didn’t drink skim cappuccinos, wear leopard lining on his insides, if you know what I’m saying. And on the other hand, Easy? In a market so over-saturated, one oozing with talented designers, some so fixated on creating the next “it” trend, we the consumer, often get caught up in their game of rise to the top and subsequently turn out falling, how could he possibly dub the fashion conquests of our day to day, “easy.” I put myself in his shoes, hoping I might understand what he was getting at a bit more clearly but ultimately realized while standing in his three year old Adidas sneakers that this wasn’t about me. This was about him and his fervor to step outside his square-ass box. See, here’s the problem with finding yourself stuck in a box in this day and age though: we live in a world where there ultimately is no more box. We can’t “think outside the box” anymore because that shit doesn’t exist. How then, can you possibly find yourself still living in one? I gave him a small dose of his own unfortunate medicine and concluded that if I were a man, not he were a woman, I’d be running wild circles around him. With ease.
Denim blouses paired with straight leg denim jeans, nice burgundy belts, loafers–no socks. Colored pants, white pants, boxy blazers. Interesting shades, dyed hair. Murses! A certain Emily Weiss uses the most majestic Coach men’s dob-kit as a handbag every so often.
I got to thinking about it more internally. It dawned on me that in the last couple of months, while I hadn’t shopped very often, the only times I had purchased anything were of the male variety. This particular friend and I found ourselves at the new A.P.C boutique in the west village a few Sundays ago and I indulged my upper body in two blouses. One plain white–it could put Lands End to shame, but I’d never turn my back on that discovery–and one pajama striped. Blue and white with brown buttons–it was the exact color contrast I’d been looking for in all my women’s shirts. At Uniqlo shortly thereafter, I was looking for the proper proportionate loose fit white jeans. The female versions all rendered too tight so I looked toward the mens apparel where I found, not only a perfect cotton twill trench coat, but a very small pair of white jeans that would thereby be dubbed my Asian-brother-jeans. I ripped them at the knees and at last: Current/Elliott brilliance.
Forward by Elyse Walker is notorious for hosting some of the most provocative offerings high fashion has to offer. Charlotte Olympia, Givenchy, Jil Sander, it doesn’t matter. The mens sweaters are wear my heart is. Note: Uniqlo’s cashmere crew necks are everything and not in the fashion girl sense of that word. Just kidding, that’s precisely the sense I’m depicting. On a similar site, Mr. Porter reminds me on an almost daily basis how regretful I am to have been plagued with a foot so small I can’t even so much as ponder the notion of purchasing mens shoes. Unless that is, I look to the little boys department which is theoretically not a bad idea–thanks for helping me through that, guys.
But what does it all mean? Has womenswear taken a turn for the uninteresting? Likely not. Have I? Maybe. But I think this might be deeper than that. It may in fact tie back to a control tale as old as the 19th amendment. Is this a game of role playing? Am I using menswear as a vehicle to quantify an absolute sense of equality? I was always told, “dress like a lady, think like a man,” but maybe that ism isn’t the most successful way to conquer what needs conquering. Maybe we need to scrap the “lady” all together. Dress like men and think like girls. Girls are genuine, awesome, playful and often get yeast infections for staying in their wet bathing suits too long, ergo ideal Man Repeller.
Recently, I have found that my male friend hasn’t had much to say about my wears. I’d imagine because they are precisely what he’d like to be wearing. Nevertheless, I’ll further explore this hypothesis and report back. In the meantime, what say you?