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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Styling

Urban Wonder

On a warm Sunday, after some unusual snow fall,
I headed downtown to Raleigh’s warehouse district
for the first menswear shoot to be featured on Style Asset.

Ever since I started helping my coworker&friend, Jonathan,
curate his wardrobe, I have wanted to discuss men’s fashion.

Although it does not change often,
there are many stylistic techniques that can make fashion fun for guys.

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Update your basics.
Look for textural textiles,
like suede, leather, and denim.
These materials are both visually rich and rugged,
making for a cool, sophisticated outfit that is sure to attract attention.
If you’re going to go for simple, you have to make every piece count.

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A good leather jacket is always in style and is easy to wear.
Visit your local vintage or consignment shop in search of one that is already worn in.

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You can do double denim.
It’s called chambray: a lightweight clothing fabric with colored warp and white filling yarns.
It is basically denim lite.
A chambray shirt is a great way to mix fabrics & stay comfortable.
A sturdy denim fabric can be too bulky as a shirt, but makes for the perfect jeans.
Choose well-made jeans in a classic wash that will last you a lifetime.
Raleigh Denim is a favorite for quality pieces & you be supporting a local business.

The second trick is to choose different shades of blue.
This outfit went a step further by incorporating a subtle, woven print that adds a playful quality to a tailored look.

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When in doubt, invest in neutrals.

A great pair of shoes can go a long way
& by purchasing them in variations of brown, black, & blue
you can literally wear them with anything.
(but never brown shoes with a black belt)
Jonathan purchased the same shoe in both navy & gray
because they were so damn snazzy & comfortable.

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Do not fear outerwear.
Jackets & blazers can really complete a look
and there are ways to not look silly in a vest.
This particular one came with the most amazing jacket from a certain safari-inspired GAP Inc. brand.
(Banana Republic)
Jonathan was hesitant to trust my advice on this piece,
but since he made the investment he has worn the jacket every day & loves it.
A quilted vest in an earthy hue feels more outdoorsy than nerdy
and a color-neutral, like olive, is a refreshing alternative to black.

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Turn to nature & the urban landscape for interesting color schemes.
I love the warmth of red bricks from old Raleigh architecture,
especially when contrasted with the green of foliage.
Thus the combination of a evergreen vest & wine button-down.
The same concept is applied to this gray & sage ensemble.
A slightly preppy look contrasts nicely with the decaying industrial environment.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by color (or print),
tone it down by layering a neutral piece that allows the contrasting fabric to accent the outfit.

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Embrace style.
Contrary to what you may have heard, it is ok to put some effort into what you wear.
Style is the first impression
& how you speak to the world without using your voice.
Go ahead, wear your favorite color! Even if it is vibrant or quirky.
Do structure and feel relaxed.
I promise, there is a balance between looking profession & feeling at ease.
Be inspired by your interests & the world around you for unique interpretations of classic menswear style.

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Follow @Style_Asset on Instagram to see more from this shoot
& check out past editorials (+ photos of my cat).

Need fashion advice?
Comment below!
I’d love to start an Ask the Asset series.

Big thank you to Keisha Louise for capturing this on film
& to Jonathan for his Blue Steel impressions.

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