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!
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.
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.
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 😉