Borrowing from the boys is not exactly a revolutionary sartorial concept for most modern-day women. One need look no further than red-carpet shots of Nicole Kidman and Charlize Theron in Dior Homme suits to understand the undeniable appeal of men’s wear on a female physique. From boyfriend sweaters to little boy blazers, these items can often make an effortless transition into any girl’s wardrobe without veering into cross-dressing territory.
While women have long benefited from dipping into the opposite sex’s clothing pool in crafting a cool outfit, the reverse cannot be said for their male counterparts. And with good reason: frilly dresses and micro miniskirts are not typically thought of as testosterone-friendly. But recently, a confident contingent of guys has been making strides into the girls’ arena, seeking everything from basic T-shirts to trendy pieces, jewelry and accessories — all the while retaining masculinity. And with the support of a growing group of retailers and designers, they are making a case for raiding the women’s department.
For some among their ranks, the primary motivation is a question of fit. “I’m a rather small person, so a lot of the time, if I can’t find something that I would buy in a men’s section of a store…and if I want something and it’s cool enough and it doesn’t have too much darting, I’ll totally buy it [from the women’s side],” explains jewelry designer Eddie Borgo. He frequently mixes Alexander Wang cardigans and women’s blazers from thrift stores with white Hanes T-shirts and vintage Wranglers and Levis 517s. A recent purchase: a pair of Camilla Staerk black moccasins.
Borgo has a kindred spirit in a fashion executive who, as a result of his petite stature, gets creative in honing his simple, slim silhouette (though he prefers to remain anonymous about his girly clothing excursions). Though he likes lean men’s sweaters and blazers from Jil Sander and Prada, baggy, too-big men’s jeans don’t cut it. And so he has no problem looking to girls’ denim for his fit solution, specifically Helmut Lang’s cropped boyfriend style and the skinny cut from Uniqlo.
“I’m 5-foot-4…and there are limited collections I can buy,” he says. Denim wasn’t his first such foray: He also owns a light blue Uniqlo Windbreaker. “It has a very minimal design, the color was beautiful and I think that’s why I bought it,” he explains. “There’s no specific feminine design that makes me feel awkward.”
Size is not the only drive behind many of these intrepid male customers. A judicious mix of women’s clothes can lend a sleek, androgynous line often unattainable with exclusively men’s items.
“All my rock ’n’ roll friends, we’re all wearing girls’ jeans. They fit better,” says stylist Keegan Singh, who achieves his skinny-leg look with Rock & Republic and Cheap Monday cuts.
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