Friday, 2 October 2009


A little while ago we received a comment that clothing we had mentioned was 'not suitable for anyone with a y chromosome'. This sort of comment (it's not the first of its kind and I doubt it will be the last) always gets me thinking. What is it that makes clothing 'appropriate' for you as a man? How important is it for you that your clothes make you look 'manly'?

Patrick Petitjean in a shoot for GQ style from last year

I come at this issue as a woman who loves having short hair (and I mean short) and feels equally comfortable in trousers or dresses. Women, in western culture, are generally allowed to play around with the idea of what is appropriate for their gender... and yet if a man is to put on a pink shirt or a top with a low neckline it is considered strange, gay (with an intonation that this is somehow wrong or less masculine) or just plain wrong. God forbid if they want to go really 'out there' wearing, say, a skirt or leggings.

You may remember me obsessing over this shoot here

I'll openly admit that I prefer a more traditional look for guys (whatever that means- for me I think that it means suits, trousers, simplicity of tailoring and print), but I think that it's a shame that men are dissuaded from pursuing a different aspect of style for the sake of this sort of propriety. I'm going to keep this post brief- it's a subject I can talk about for hours (just ask my boyfriend, I've been talking about it for about a week solidly now), but if I tried I'd never finish writing this. I'm more curious to know how our readers feel. Does looking manly matter to you? Is there anything that you wouldn't wear because it's too feminine, or are you more put off by the way that others might percieve you? Please let us know in the comments (or if you really want to go on about it, you can drop us an email).


Mat said...

is if, what a dingbat who ever said that. deep down we all know we can wear what we want and i guess he either said it to get a reaction or just isn't educated in anything to do with style/fashion.

heck yeah i have worn leggings and i still have a girlfriend. experimentation is good and how you find the style that suits you, and helps your style evolve with age. i'm still young and haven't nowhere really worked out what works best for me, at the time it seems good but in a few months that will change. thats where the fun comes in.

stick to what you believe in guys!

Barima said...

I think this is worthy of a fuller article at my place sometime. I'll say this much - Prince is, and has long been, one of my icons of masculinity. From sex to musical and artistic control to basketball, there's seemingly no area he doesn't own, all while wearing some of the frilliest shirts known to humanity

Arya said...

People always take this the wrong way.

Most of the current mens fashion trend is not "manly". The leggings being sold as pants, the shirts with pencil thin arms, etc... all work to make the male form look more like the female form. This is even shown in some of the ad campaigns where men and women are shot together looking identical save for possibly some facial hair.

It's not Masculine. It's not wrong either, if a man wants to dress with a feminine tone then why not? Women take masculine influences so the reverse should be acceptable as well.

I think the point is, when you take a 95lbs "man" and stuff him into a woman's jeans, place on him a woman's shirt and give him a woman's hair cut then don't be surprised when people say it's not "manly".

I think "manly" suggests masculinity and the male form. This would include more powerful cuts highlighting strength, height and aggression. That masculinity can then be toned down with soft colors which are traditionally considered to be "feminine".

But the point is: if you put a dress on a man, it doesn't make him any less of a man but at the same time it doesn't make the dress "manly" either.

Brad Paige said...

this is very good, and i love the blog!
you make a fine point as far as the masculinity subject is concerned but to each his or her own yes?

Here is a link to mine, i have some pretty interesting fashion illustrations and interviews with new up and coming male models! so take a look and if u feel inclined comment

GSK said...

I love masculine street-wise clothes but am not afraid to wear floral shirts or pinks and lavenders.

Suits are masculine but to me they reek of fear - they are both bulky body-armor and a symbol of conformity. Women are encouraged to find flattering necklines but men are all expected to be flattered in the same boring old lapels and collars. I would love to see waist- and midhip-length jackets for men become the norm - a cross between a cardigan and a jacket. They could come in bold patterns and colors to replace the necktie, with varied shaped lapels, and with zips or buttons. We want variety!

The long suit jacket is so concealing, and dull beyond belief. They hide a good physique. Sitting in them is stupidly uncomfortable and you have to wear a cavernous overcoat in winter.

james said...

what i find weird about this is the difference between different towns/regions. i wear stuff in london that i would never dream of wearing in, say, my grandparents northern and not so fashionable town.

Style Salvage Steve said...

Looking typically manly matters less and less to me. That said, there are things which I just wouldn't wear. This is down to a number of reasons but 'manliness' and what other people consider 'manly' certainly comes in to play.

Masculinity is a social construct after all. James makes a good point about the differences between different areas. I have to think long and hard about what I pack when I leave the security of the London bubble and go back home to Kent. It is amazing that you can travel only a few miles and your attire can change from being considered as acceptable, to downright offensive. This is madness but alas it is the world we live in.

We can (and have done above) think up the components of a typically 'manly' attire but what interests me is why we consider them as manly, what has shaped our attitudes. If you look through history, men have been far more limited in the last 100 years than ever before, but why?

Blank Label said...

i am all for trying new fashion!
especially if it has a feminine twist.
i'll eat a few punches from my peers, but have the last laugh when the trend hits big! and if the trend doesnt... then fine, at least i was brave enough to try! =)

roxy B said...

this is hilarious.

armod said...

I prefer the classic tailoring myself but wouldn't be afraid of wearing a shirt with pink or purple or any other "feminine colored" stripes.

to me it would be a greater consideration of how it worked with the rest of my clothing and my own coloring, than other peoples' perception or opinion.

TheSundayBest said...

Blow me down - it's an EJ post!

I hope that comment wasn't me...sometimes I get drunk...

Karoline said...

I just cannot get over how bloody PERFECT that shoot is, and the casting of that guy. Simply sublime. And It´s ULTRA masculine, just because of how he looks and exudes everything male in my opinion. I´d go as far as saying it´s probably one of my fave. editorials ever...
As far as men wearing "feminine" garments, I´m all for it. As long as it´s done with confidence, and impeccable taste. Androgyny is the way forward for both genders I think...


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