Thursday, October 28, 2010

(wo)Men's Wear


jeans (Macys)
white short-sleeved button down (The Limited)
brown vest (Saks)
black flats (Payless)

As much as I advocate for taking back traditionally feminine dressing as an empowering form of sartorial expression, there is something very appealing to me about androgynous clothing and adapting men's wear for women.  However, I have a lot of trouble making this Annie Hall-type style work, namely because, well, my body literally gets in the way.  As a woman who has trouble even wearing regular button downs without lots of adjustments or massive gapping problems, attempts to make vests or ties work on me usually fall flat (or rather, fail to fall flat).

Vests are one of my favorite things, and I particularly love when Anne-Marie wears them.  I've tried on many vests in stores, but the one featured here is the only one I've found that fits me.  My boyfriend doesn't like the length of it, preferring it to be cut closer to the waist, but I like it.  I would like to find one that does fit closer to the body and/or is cut higher, but as it is, I like that this vest is a little different.  Similarly, some might say that this vest would look better belted, to highlight my waist.  When I bought it, it came with a belt-like cord, but I found that it just didn't look right on me - nor did other belts help the matter much.  In keeping with the androgyny idea, I like that this vest smooths down my curves and specifically does not emphasize them.  However, my favorite thing about this vest is that I find it to be relatively versatile, as it works with trousers, jeans, sleeveless shirts, t-shirts, and blouses. 

  • Do you incorporate men's wear looks into your wardrobe?  What are your favorite pieces to wear?  What tips do you have for androgynous dressing?
  • Do you wear vests?  Have any tips for mixings curves and vests?


maggie Fromm said...

Katie, I think this is SUPER cute. I think that androgynous dressing is a really interesting idea, because it also helps us to really wonder what it means to "look like a woman" or "look like a man," both phrases that seem to point to some sort of essentially "masculine" and "feminine" qualities. Here's the thing that troubles me about the topic, though NOT about your outfit: women are encouraged via "boyfriend jeans" and "boyfriend cardis" and etc. to dress like men. Yet, as we know, men are NOT to dress like women, or the effect is is a negative impact on their masculinity. Women, on the other hand, are either "stronger" and more confident for dressing like men and "bucking" the system or, to be crass, are "bitchy" for dressing like a man to exude masculine power. So I guess I wonder how, as women, we can dress like men without a) being part of the system that denies men a similar inversion and b) inviting a disturbing binary of male vs. female.

I also LOVED this vest with the trousers and heels. Fabulous.

blackberry said...

I don't like this at all. I think the vest would be better with textured tights, platform pumps or anke booties and a pencil skirt.
No idea for a top. Maybe a turtleneck?

Scholar Style Guide said...

Maggie - thanks for commenting! I had never thought of lack of reciprocity between men's clothing and women's clothing, and you're completely spot on in pointing it out. And I also have a problem with the "boyfriend" label for many reasons - that baggier or more comfortable clothing is "ok" when under the label of "boyfriend" style but sloppy when it's just old jeans or an oversized top. Also, the obvious connotations of heterosexual relationships in the title: I'm not "butch" because it's my boyfriend's clothes. It seems to be a label that allows women to toe the line of androgynous clothing while keeping heterosexual norms and labels intact.

Anyway, great questions about how we can dress this way without playing into this problematic and troubling gendered system.

blackberry - I have tried to wear this vest with skirts before, but it usually just looks awkward because of the length. I was wearing it with pointed toe heels earlier in the day, which I think gave it a different look. Thanks for the the ankle bootie suggestion - I think I'll try that next time.


Scholar Style Guide said...

Maggie and Katie, this is a great discussion! lHdM raised this same issue last week when I wore my boyfriend jeans in the post "Reviving Old Clothes." Like you, Maggie, she was troubled over the lack of reciprocity:

I'd like to explore this topic in greater depth in future posts, especially your points, Maggie, about denying men a similar inversion.

Katie, I've heard so many Annie Hall references lately! My grandmother told me I looked like Annie Hall just last week, for example. (What was I wearing? A vest.) Is this film experiencing a pop culture revival?

- AM