A gentleman’s guide to wearing womenswear

Male model wearing floral suit

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Feeling floral in feminine fashion

Men look good in women’s clothing. It’s official. Chanel, Gucci and Vetements all claim that their designs for ladies look equally stylish on gents and they’re affirming this view by showing their female fashion collections on mixed-sex models. According to Fashion United’s Don-Alvin Adegeest, at last season’s Gucci men’s show:

the first model, dressed in a strikingly androgynous red pussy bow blouse, had hair so long you could barely tell it was a ‘he.’

Change is moving beyond the catwalk. Fashion icons Pharrell Williams, Ewan McGregor and Kanye West have all been spotted sporting ruffled blouses and skirts, while high street stores are introducing gender neutral clothing lines. But how does the average British gent feel about gender fluid fashion?

Are you ready for a gender neutral wardrobe?

Comedian Eddie Izzard

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Eddie Izzard: “They’re not women’s clothes. They’re mine. I bought them”

In April 2016, Gucci announced that it would combine its 2017 men’s and women’s shows into a single event. Sue Evans, head of catwalks at research firm Stylus says:

The old approach of men’s and women’s shows several months apart just doesn’t work when Michele has brought the two collections so close together style-wise.

“Gender neutral” is a phrase that’s buzzing around fashion houses, but what began on the catwalks is also filtering through to the shopping centres. 2016 has seen the arrival of new gender neutral lines from high street brands Zara and Levis.

Selfridge’s success with pop up shop Agender resulted in three floors of gender neutral fashion appearing in their London store. Gender neutrality is going mainstream.

The creators of innovative fashion label Gender Free World believe this philosophy is all about freedom and simplicity:

We are not saying we want a world without gender, only that it is unfair that gender can limit and restrict your choices.

If, like comedian Eddie Izzard (pictured above), you’re going to flirt with more feminine style, start with soft textures or brighter colours, and if you want to wear a skirt, go ahead. Women have been wearing trousers for over a century.

Borrowing from the boys

Marlene Deitrich

Image source: Wikipedia
Dietrich’s tradition defying trouser suit

Women started wearing trousers more frequently during the first world war. Ladies who worked in the auxiliary services or on the land replaced corsets and skirts with practical breeches and boots. Having experienced the advantages of menswear, many simply refused to return to full-time skirt wearing after the war. However, some conservative observers still saw women’s slacks as morally questionable.

Throughout the 1930s and 40s, Hollywood stars continued to defy tradition and influence fashion by glamourising male attire. Marlene Dietrich exemplified this androgynous look, which is summed up nicely by Queens of Vintage lifestyle blogger Lena:

She… managed to look effortlessly striking. One of her favourite looks was a trouser suit, short, fitted single-breasted jacket with tailored yet loose trousers.

But for the modern day woman, androgynous dressing isn’t just about trousers. Fashion Tag blogger Dana’s takes a more comprehensive approach. Her everyday footwear includes running shoes, Birkenstocks and trucker boots. Dana shares her thoughts on formal footwear:

Masculine inspired footwear is now a totally acceptable fashion-forward alternative. Yep, from monk straps to brogues, and loafers to Chelsea boots, the formal flat continues to be on-trend, and shows no sign of letting up.

Borrowing from the boys is clearly as popular as ever. But what about borrowing from the girls?

Men in Skirts

Marc Jacobs wearing black skirt

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Fashion designer Marc Jacobs is often seen in a skirt

Singer, Will Young, was recently mocked on Instagram for saying he believes skirts and dresses make him look more masculine. But many fashion designers and style icons agree with Will. If their commitment to skirts for men continues, could it become as acceptable as a woman in slacks?

In some cultures, the skirt is a traditional part of national or military dress. We’re thinking kilts, sarongs and Samurai hakamas.

Radical fashion designer, Jean Paul Gaultier, claims that male uniforms around the world inspired his skirt for men, which debuted on the Parisian catwalks in 1984 and horrified some fashion editors.

Challenging expectations

Man wearing blue skirt and top

Image source: MBTom
A normal day in the office for MBTom

But in the 21st Century, a skirt-wearing gent still risks ridicule, as blogger The skirted man has discovered:

A man in a skirt is looked upon as being odd, not normal, not traditional. A man is still held by society in a certain image and expectation.

It’s not just younger men who are freeing themselves from the straitjacket of traditional menswear. Fortysomething blogger MBTom says he enjoys provoking a reaction:

I fit more into the category of alternative fashion if you can call it that. I’m not expressing an alternative sexuality. I’m just me wearing clothes that I like and making myself a stronger person.

There’s a long way to go before men in womenswear are seen as the norm, but gender fluid fashion is definitely beginning to blur the lines.

Will you be making room for gender neutral fashion in your wardrobe, or do you believe men shouldn’t be seen in skirts? We always love hearing your opinions, so head over to our Facebook page and share your thoughts.

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Posted in Men's style guides.