Styling

His & Hers (& Theirs)

Womenswear VS Menswear: what’s the real difference? Men and women both wore lace ruffles in the Victorian era and prior. Boys wore dresses as babies up through the 19th century… but girls weren’t allowed to wear pants until the 1940’s. Then Mademoiselle Chanel comes along, borrowing clothes from her boyfriends, and suddenly menswear is incorporated into women’s high-fashion.

So why do some people still get their panties in a twist when men borrow fashion from women? It’s a modern age, yet most people would give a funny look if a guy was spotted sporting stilettos. To each their own, but I love the idea of gender-less fashion. Similar to how I try to ignore sizes when buying clothes. Does any of it really matter? Fit and style are subjective!

I was talking with a male co-worker recently about how hard it is to find vintage menswear. TBH, y’all generally just wear your clothes/shoes until there’s nothing left. This could, in part, be attributed to society’s stance on men not caring about “frivolous” things while women have historically been expected to sit there and look pretty. Still, if a guy wants to support and buy vintage, why couldn’t he wear something from the “women’s” collection? Of course, this discussion inspired a photo shoot!

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1920’s embroidered Asian jacket, 1980’s DVF linen trousers, and a perfectly worn 1950’s PE t-shirt

Heavily influenced by fashion revolutionaries and gender-bending celebrities David Bowie and Ezra Miller, with a healthy dose of inso from the non-binary community, I teamed up with my favorite vintage dealer, Raleigh Vintage, to bring my vision to life.

I think if we had the diverse language for gender 50 years ago as we do now, Bowie would probably have considered himself Non-Binary. Hints to this theory can be found in many of his lyrics, as well as his more obvious stylistic choices. Ezra Miller reminds me a lot of Bowie in his care-free, dramatic sartorial red carpet appearances (did you see him at the Met Gala?!). Prince would also be part of this theoretical posse with his affinity for romantic Victorian style. All three of these dudes gave a middle finger to societal norms and dressed however they wanted, regardless of what others thought.

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The concept of “cross-dressing” also brings to mind images from the birth of queer culture in New York City. What was once so taboo people were beaten for being themselves, has now become more acceptable… if you play the part. Society wants people to be definable. The general public likes to label things to aid in their understanding of the unknown. So it’s OK to dress in women’s clothes if you’re a drag queen (something straight culture has now accepted for their own entertainment), but less so if you’re toeing the line between masculinity and femininity. I applaud every non-binary, trans, and GNC  person for having the courage to embrace their true self. My hair stylist has been a big inspiration with their unapologetic way of dressing. Fearless in combining fishnets, dresses, heeled boots, and crop tops with their more “neutral” pieces.

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1980’s white blouse and Calvin Klein denim shorts with a 1940’s indigo shibori kimono

If you’re ready to explore the womenswear world, the easiest way to get acquainted is looking for structured/tailored pieces in exciting prints and colors. Next level? Play with volume and texture. I noticed several hetero men at the Met embracing their more flamboyant side: see Nick Jonas, Darren Criss, Anderson .Paak, and Harry Styles. I’ll give their stylists most of the credit, seeing as how they don’t typically dress so bold, but it’s still a step in making stereotypically “feminine” fashion details more socially acceptable in menswear.

Throughout this shoot, I found joy in balancing “masculine” and “feminine” fabric. Take this navy and white ensemble for example: very sporty on the bottom, then a surprise ruffled blouse and an unexpected graphic kimono layer. Let not forget about the jewelry — heavy metals reigned over this shoot, accentuated with rich gem hues.

Another fave was this ode to the 60’s. Most men would be hesitant to wear kelly green short shorts, but remember how short sports uniforms were in the 70’s??? What comes around goes around. Contrasting the playful bottoms and bejeweled accessories, a mid-century military jacket and handsomely aged t-shirt make this ensemble very wearable.

So guys, I encourage you to cross borders, to embrace feel-good fabrics and ignore the norms. Visit Raleigh Vintage‘s boutique on Glenwood South and you will not be disappointed! They’re working on a menswear collection, but you can still shop their womenswear in the meantime 😉

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Lifestyle

Southern Sisters

Growing up in the South, there are certain cities you hear about more than others. Amongst large metropolitan areas like Atlanta and Charlotte, it’s the smaller towns that boast the most charm. As a kid, I made road trips to Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA and vividly remember the whimsy of Spanish moss dripping from ancient arboretums. So naturally, when planning my vacations for the year, I was interested in revisiting these antebellum cities and exploring them through fresh (adult) eyes. I like to think of Charleston and Savannah as sisters to Raleigh: all are little big cities with rich historic districts. Raleigh is the techie, Charleston a bit preppy, and Savannah the artist (duh, SCAD).

I left early Wednesday morning with the sun shining through the windows headed straight for South Carolina. Before reaching the heart of Charleston, I made a pit stop at the most stunning estate, Magnolia Plantation. You may recognize views of its tree-lined drive from Forest Gump, but the gardens were by far my favorite part. I’ll take a moment to acknowledge that yes, this home once held enslaved people, but I would like to focus on the beauty of the South rather than dwelling on a shameful past.

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Just as I was approaching the grand gate of Magnolia it began to pour. This made for a very eerie entrance that felt reminiscent of the woods scene in The Wizard of Oz. On the plus side, this natural occurrence flushed out a majority of the tourists! I waited out the last bit of rain with a tour of the main house. Rebuilt/renovated three times, it’s an interesting composite of architecture and interior design styles throughout the 19th century. The Draytons were big fans of botanical and Audubon artwork, which are mixed in with family portraits and antique furniture. Oh, there’s also peacocks everywhere.

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The incredible thing about Magnolia Plantation is that the gardens have been the primary draw since the mid 1800’s and were used as a way to recoup finances lost in the Civil War. The landscape is much more organic in its flow compared to structured English gardens of the era. Winding pathways and hidden glades boast camellias and azaleas, decorated with art nouveau statues and scenic bridges.

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The heavy rain meant some pathways were off limits, but it also made for fantastic photo ops. It was so meditative to just wander and get a little lost in the foliage. I know I didn’t view half of the plantation, but what I did see left an impression. The estate closes at 5pm during the week and offers guided tram tours. There’s also a small garden shop with plants from the plantation — best type of souvenir!

From Magnolia Plantation I headed towards the city, then over to my hotel in Mt. Pleasant. Be warned, hotels and AirBnBs are hella expensive in Charleston. After a quick refresh, I caught an Uber downtown. There’s really no free parking, so Uber or Lift makes more sense most of the time (more on that later). Bonus points for a driver who can give you some sight-seeing recomendations. I had seen several great online reviews for a restaurant called Fig, but didn’t expect to need a reservation on a Wednesday night. Much to my dismay, there was a 45min wait and I was too hungry to stick it out. A quick Google search and I was walking towards a rooftop spot called The Watch. First impressions were solid – cool entrance and a hip crowd downstairs – but I should’ve known better when the place was less than half full.

TBH, the view was nice and that was about it. Easily the worst meal I had during my whole trip. But hey! You live and you learn.

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Day Two was much more eventful. Remember how there’s no free parking downtown? Well I decided to find a parking deck and drive myself: same price as an Uber, but at least I can stash a change of clothes and store my shopping throughout the day. It would’ve been a great plan had I not accidentally locked my keys in my car… with the help of the locksmith down the street (and a $90 charge) I later regained entrance. Good thing I had already planned to spend the whole day exploring!

One of my favorite local finds was Candlefish. Y’all know I’m a sucker for candles and this place is basically heaven. I love the concept of a blind smell test and, while overwhelming at first, the overall experience amazing. Candlefish’s claim to flame is their library of over 100 scents, all numbered as not to elicit bias before smelling. Had I known about this place earlier, I would’ve signed up for a candle-making class! Needless to say, I left with four candles (and may order more online).

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I still had some time to kill, so I popped next door to Savannah Bee Company (in retrospect I should’ve done this IN Savannah). In addition to a copious amount of bee products (everything from honey to home), the Bee Company has a cute little bar where you can partake in a mead tasting. Mead is some seriously delicious stuff and the bartender had great suggestions for mead-based cocktails. I left with a bottle of John Lemon, Peach & Love, and Pollen-nation (also a sucker for a punny name).

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The mead left me a little peckish, so I walked towards Broad St. to check out a little French cafe a friend told me about. I opened the door and quite literally walked into the bar. This place is small, but packs a powerful punch. Their daily special is a sandwich, side, and glass of wine for $13. Sounds good to me! I went a little crazy and had an extra bowl of gazpacho (soooo good) and a glass of iced coffee to offset my mid-day fatigue. I would highly recommend Fast & French to anyone looking for something a little less snobby and their family-style seating is the one of the best ways to immerse yourself into local Charleston culture.

What’s the perfect thing to do after a delicious lunch? Take a leisurely walk and admire the historic architecture Charleston is known for! I opted out of the touristy Rainbow Row sight-seeing in favor of the hidden alleys and grand driveways of Charleston’s upper-class homes.

 

 

These houses are no joke. Who needs this much space?! So many porches! Still, I embraced every window box and cobblestone walkway. Outside of one home I had an unexpected encounter with guineafowl. Funny little things — I had to ask a passerby what the hell they were.

The house with the red car was by far my favorite. It has so much personality and 1920’s charm! I eventually made my way back up Meeting St. Pro tip: The Market is a trap. Too many people trudging along through stalls of over-priced goods. My next destination was a little more… cozy.

Side note: didn’t do a whole lot of shopping in Charleston (or in Savannah). King St is full of major brands (I was tempted to step inside Gucci, but knew it would be dangerous territory) and preppy boutiques. I’m not big on Lilly Pulitzer and everything else was far too expensive for my modest travel budget.

Quite possibly my favorite event of the day was the cat cafe, Pounce! The cafe acts as a home for the kittens, all of whom are available for adoption, as well as a way to facilitate in socialization. You can relax with a glass in one hand and a feather toy in the other. I made several furry friends and reeeally wanted to bring a few back to NC with me.

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I mean, look at these gorgeous babies! In-between taking pictures and giving kisses, I thought to ask one of the employees for restaurant recommendations. This approach was way better than reading articles or searching Google. Find a local who looks like they could hang with your friend group and ask about their favorite spots in the city. I was referred to several eateries, but utimately ended up at Sorghum & Salt.

After some quality time at Pounce I finally met up with the locksmith to retrieve my car key. I was so gross from walking around in the heat, I was thankful for the forethought of throwing a sundress and sandals in my car. A quick change and I was ready for the evening! Earlier in the day I had passed a hip hair salon and realized I desperately needed to trim up my undercut. I didn’t read a single review on the place beforehand, but the presence of my go-to styling brand (Kevin Murphy, ty Onslow) and an available appointment seemed like a sign. My stylist recently moved to Charleston from Boston and was super friendly. He took care of business, plus washed and styled my curls! I left feeling fabulous and ready for dinner by myself.

Most of the time when I eat alone I feel a little unimportant. Like the hostess assumes I won’t be spending much, so they put me at a crappy table by the bathroom. Little do they know I love to indulge in food. I had called ahead for a reservation (learned my lesson) and was greeted by a friendly smile as soon as I walked through the door.

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Sorghum & Salt was by far the best restaurant experience of my entire trip. My waitress remembered my name and even picked out a charming table by the window for me. Every dish was simple, yet intentional, and when I didn’t love something the chef sent out a special plate. I left feeing so loved (maybe it was the wine) and collapsed into my bed as soon as I reached the hotel.

Overall, I enjoyed Charleston. It’s a little uppity for me and I do think its a bit overrated, but it is a quintessential Old South city. Maybe things would’ve been different if I had more time? A few notable places that I did not have the opportunity to explore include; The French Quarter, Waterfront Park, Henry’s for rooftop jazz, Gibbs Art Museum, Philip Simmons art garden, Hampton Park, and The Hold brewery.

 

Up next: Savannah!

 

 

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