I Wear Mens Clothes

Credits: Photo - anonymous, Styling - Sarah G. Schmidt, Location - 100 block of 10 Street NW

The shorts in the title photo above are from the mens department. And I like them. A lot. Cargo shorts used to be a fashion joke to me. I understood the utility. Certainly, they had a lot of pockets to hold all sorts of the wearer’s trinkets and treasures. The washed out cotton looks better with every trip to the laundry and, with all that washing, they become more comfortable. But comfort and utility alone are not enough for me. I used to think they looked horribly lazy and that the wearer was either mountain bound with their dog or given up on life. Cruel, yes. But not unfounded, I would argue. Regardless, I’ve challenged my previous judgment. I want to find a way to make them work for me. Not only do I think I have found ways to style this piece, I also have the swagger boost of workin’ it that I get only when I’ve found a style that is real.

It goes back to me trying to deviate from the norm. As a woman sometimes I feel the need to cross that invisible line into the mens department. I’ll let you in on something. Fellas cuts for certain items often fit my body type better than the lady equivilent. Every once in a while, for a specific look, I want to let my clothes hang a bit more than typical. Or, I want to juxtapose traditional menswear with something uber feminine. Or, at the very least, get the rush from feeling like I’m in on a super secret joke that others may not be. Any one of those options is reason enough for me. Expressing myself through a variety of items in my style is integral to me. Not thisor that all the time, rather a bit of this and sometimes that. Some days I want to wear a dress. Other days I want to wear a pant suit.

I’ll share another example of creeping into the mens section. Last year I tried on over 30 pairs of womens boyfriend style jeans. They ranged from high end brands to fast fashion brands. I know my body and trust my eye when I try on potential purchases. In this quest for denim, my eye didn’t lie. They just weren’t hanging right. More specifically, too tight in all the wrong areas and loose in where I though it shouldn’t. Like any other pants, I reject unflattering pocket placement for my tush. I also reject denim that is too stiff or too thin. Be gone.

Out of frustration and a little bit of tired giddiness, I thought, “Why not try the mens section? I won’t know the fit until I try them and the price point is often lower.” Just like that I crossed over to the mens, eyeballed my size and tried a few pairs on. What would you know: they hanged like I wanted and fit in the tush like I wanted. I got that “this is right” feeling that my eye was pushing for. Ding dong! I smirked at the fitting room attendent who was side-eyeing me on my way to the front, paid the sales person and scurried home.

The pants were not as worn in as I fancied but I am rarely afraid of tackling a style project. After doing the step by step distressing denim video I found on YouTube, I was the proud adorner of my boyfriend jeans. I was ecstatic! Those who see me often will joke that they must be my favourite jeans because I wear them so much. They are (for now at least).

Before my denim plunge last year, I had been a clothing opportunist many times. Did I wear the hand-me-downs from my brother and male cousins? Sure. Snatching my grandpa’s olive green fedora from the pile of his unwanted items is another example. One man’s trash is another’s treasure,” whispers in my mind. Do dress shirts not so mysteriously disappear from my partner’s closet? I plead delightfully guilty. How about borrowing your buddy’s ball cap and “forgeting” to return it? I’ve done that. Or revelling in the men’s suit jacket that was loaned to you for warmth. Noting not only does it keep you toasty, it also looks great over that dress you are wearing? Or how about finding a vintage T with your favorite sports team. Score! These elements help to create a specific look that I am yearning for on a particular day. To be honest, I just like wearing mens clothes. I feel a bit rebelious. It’s silly, I know, but it gets me going. 

Men shop in mens and women shop in womens? Boo, boring. I shop where I want regardless of the gender labels. Aren’t gender labels a bit outdated and out of touch anyway? And what about those who don’t identify with either “men” or “women?” Without getting too deep into that debate, I understand from an operational and organizational view point that brands have to label their merchandise. But I encourage you, as fellow free-minded and open shoppers: break the boundaries and reject the invisible fences. Buy that dress shirt or Kanye-inspired skirt or whatever you feel and look good in, regardless of what section you got it from.

Now that I have my cargo shorts, I’m on the hunt for a mens wool dress jacket for the fall. Cozy, structured and big in all the right areas. Hopefully, second hand. Stay tuned.

 Any gender benders out there? What pieces do you work into your wardrobe?