A recent night out left us wondering about just how much music and the arts can influence fashion. The answer seems to be, yep, quite a lot!
So the process began of a chaotic mix and match session that eventually ended up with my trusted black cropped leggings, a floral Topshop corselette and an extremely baggy white cotton vest from Urban Outfitters which allowed the pretty floral patterns to peek out either side.
I was all set to go. After braving a fiercely cold March night, I fought my way through the clusters of achingly cool adolescents to meet my friends and swiftly locate the bar. After grabbing our pints and thankfully adjusting to the warmth from the packed out venue, one of my mates tugged off their jacket only to reveal the exact same loose white vest. Furthering this surge of annoyance was the fact that he looked so much better in it. My best friend, boy friend, friend that is a boy, supremely wore this women’s vest better than I ever could. He didn’t seem half as disheartened as I was and simply shrugged his bare shoulders and leapt into the crowd.
This tendency of ‘borrowing’ women’s clothes is slowly but surely gaining momentum amongst men. Not just the edgy students who effortlessly lead the style stakes of teenagers, but men from their twenties right up to their forties are increasingly making room in their wardrobes for feminine clothing. And I don’t mean a few silky panties hidden amongst their socks.
The recent rise of male fashion tribes indicates the genderless appeal of clothes, especially to the younger crowd. Apart from pieces that always aim to assure your masculinity, such as a well-cut suit or a winter jacket, the modern-day ambiguity of clothes can benefit the average males wardrobe significantly. This doesn’t mean that you can skip along to New Look with your daughter or begin to siphon off your other half’s favourite Reiss blouse. It’s about subtle pieces that accommodate your frame and, most importantly, your personal taste.
Skinny jeans have been a staple for both sexes in the last few years, with this sleek, androgynous look first showcasing with Heidi Slimane’s slim line look at Dior Homme in 1999 and still going strong to this day. This look isn’t solely for the male models, rock band front men or the vicarious Russell Brand. It’s readily becoming more and more available to men, with online juggernauts such as ASOS.com and Topman.com showcasing their ‘skinny-fit’ jeans and tight t-shirts as bestsellers. It seems the feminine touch really does improve a man’s wardrobe.
The attraction is obvious claims Josh Wright, a 22-year-old aspiring actor from London, ‘I borrow my sister and girlfriends clothes on a day-to-day basis. The cut and fit is so much more flattering than the usually loose style of most men’s clothes.’ Josh’s favourite steals are a grey knitted cardigan, some Primark skinny fit jeans and a purple low cut t-shirt.
This of course isn’t the first time asexual clothes appealed to young men. The 1970’s saw artists such as Mick Jagger, Marc Bolan and the ever-flamboyant David Bowie rock out in women’s dresses and full make-up. The cover of Bowie’s ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ saw him in a frock designed by Michael Fish. When repeatedly asked why he was wearing a women’s dress he simply replied ‘It’s not a woman’s dress; it’s a man’s dress.’
It told the world that straight men could bring femininity to their style, whether extreme or simple.
Nowadays the poster boys for this achievable look are indie bands like Vampire Weekend, Temper Trap and Friendly Fires and, not forgetting, extravagant comedian Noel Fielding and his clear preference for female fashion, ‘My mum was always into clothes, too. People like Mick Jagger and David Bowie; stylish, effeminate men really.’ Fielding sources all outfits from charity shops, old stage costumes and women’s departments across London.
Is this the new shopping revolution? Girlfriends helping the men squeeze into those jeans and assuring them that their bum isn’t big? Or is it some horrible role reversal doomed to give us wardrobe envy of our very own partners? Hopefully not the latter, surely the time spent together, whether poring over which scarves to share or swapping jeans now and again can only make your relationship stronger by enjoying fashion together.
Encouraging forums are popping up across the Internet to share tips on the best places to buy women’s clothes where the cut is suitable for most men, how women’s sizes convert to men’s and outfit ideas for the beginners, to the bold.
As the standard boundaries of sexuality are challenged daily, with men now investing time and money into their appearance and health more so than ever, then surely a foray into women’s wear is simply a natural progression. The archaic view of women at home baking a cake in a twinset and pearls is just as offensively outdated as stereotyping a man to a boring suit and a grooming regime that goes as far as a shave and haircut. Modern men aren’t afraid of experimentation these days and this discovery of female clothes that flatter is a testament to that. Who knows what this might develop into further down the line? Perhaps stores will start to re-think the labels of ‘men’s’ and ‘women’s’ and succumb to the increasing reality of genderless clothes for everyone.