I didn’t always have an interest in guys’ clothes. Growing up, I only wore skirts and dresses. Bizarre, I know. But somewhere down the line, things changed.
Five. That’s the total number of dresses and skirts I own now.
My first real introduction to men’s clothes (and streetwear) came courtesy of the hypebeast I dated back in high school. Following that relationship, the interest soon blossomed into a genuine enthusiasm for the garments, and the respective brands and designers responsible for them. Now, I’m 100 percent as likely to cop an XS or S of a dude’s T-shirt as I am to cruise through the women’s section.
And I'm not alone, guaranteed.
Marlene Dietrich / Image via college fashion
The thing is, women have been exploring and “borrowing” their husbands/brothers/boyfriends' clothes for years. Let’s rewind: As early as the 1930s, actress Marlene Dietrich had a well-known love of menswear that they proudly flaunted. This was actually a huge deal, because at the time, only the café set, as it was called, considered the style acceptable for women. Greta Garbo, also a Hollywood actress, would follow suit (literally).
Katharine Hepburn / Image via the gloss
Katharine Hepburn wore pants when doing so was still taboo, and perfected the white button-down and slacks combination. Then there’s Diane Keaton, who championed her still-existing signature look of suits and bowler hats.
In addition to the trail blazers—Hepburn, Garbo, Dietrich, and Keaton—who preferred tailored clothing, the torch was carried on by women like Aaliyah, who made the juxtaposition of baggy jeans and cropped tops look so perfect. More recently, women like Rita Ora, Ciara, Teyana Talor, Cara Delevingne, and Rihanna have also adopted tomboy styles, ones I identity with and take inspiration from.
Then there's my mom, who perhaps only half-jokingly has said that, along with my two brothers, she has three sons, also referring to my personal style. While some guys don't mind, or even favor girls who'd probably rock their clothes, there are some who certainly prefer the societal norm. The idea is: girls should wear skirts, dresses, and tight-everything 24/7, right?
Here's the thing: fuck that.
My style is a direct reflection of my personality and interests, as it should be, and I just don't happen to be someone who'd do ballet or wear pink or squeeze into
torture equipment high heels.
So what is it about men’s clothes that grab ahold of some women, this author included? RiRi pretty much hit the mark when, back in February, she told Vogue: “When I was thirteen or fourteen, I didn’t want to wear what my mom wanted me to wear. I was very much a boy in my style, my demeanor. All my friends were guys. I loved things that boys did. I loved being easy with my clothes. I loved wearing hats and scarves and snapbacks on my head. It was my way of rebelling.” It's comfortable. It's effortless. But with none of the negative implications that those words sometimes carry.
Men’s fashion has a certain timeless quality that women’s fashion doesn't always have. Trends for us last a season, two if we’re lucky. Some have told me this makes men's clothes "boring." You can look at it that way, sure, but the glacial speed at which men's style moves at means every garment has a considered focus on quality. And while there are obvious exceptions, menswear isn't as overtly concerned with trends as its female counterpart.
Don’t get me wrong: women's clothes are definitely enjoyable to look at, and there are incredible pieces I'd die to move from languishing in my digital shopping cart into my closet. But, frankly, with trends moving at the speed of light, immersing myself strictly in that world would also be pretty decimating to my bank account and sense of style. So, while I admire Acne's women's collection, I prefer to balance my wardrobe with a grey Public School T-shirt I know I'll wear next year. And the next. And the next.