ON OWNING MY SEXUALITY

This outfit is what your grandmother might good-humoredly refer to as a “getup.” I think the effect achieved is a sort of Hasidic/Japanese cultural mash-up as reinterpreted by Mary-Kate Olsen. One guy actually said to me, “Shalom,” in passing. It’s a look not tied to any particular expression of my sexuality, a look that says, “I don’t need you to want to have sex with me. I don’t need to be conventionally attractive to feel good about myself!” And I owned that. I felt that. Until my train arrived and as I stepped onto the car, I saw the cute guy I’d given my number to some months before.

There’d only been one brief coffee date, but we’d seen each other in passing recently and frequently enough that there couldn’t be any pretending not to know each other. So I sat down next to him. In that moment, I became hyper-aware that I did not, in fact, own my sexuality. I felt absurd and a bit cartoonish. My disregard for other’s opinions, and other’s perception of my sex or my gender (“Oh, sorry, from the back I thought you were my grandmother”) was no longer something to be ignored. I was here, next to this supercute guy, wearing Birkenstocks with socks. I had on a skirt over polyurethane leggings. My hat had set me back a whopping $5 at a thrift shop. I wasn’t quite ready to go dancing on tables or have sushi eaten off my naked body or flirtatiously spell my name in whipped cream on a guy’s bare chest. You know – normal, sexy things. I couldn’t help but feel like I’d been unceremoniously thrust back ten years in my life. Suddenly I was in the high school cafeteria, a California transplant walking around in Elements skate shoes because aren’t they hella cool?

I’ve finally gotten to a point in my life where I feel almost definitely 90-100% comfortable with my body. This is a big deal for me because in high school, when I started to get chest hair, I freaked the F*CK out about it. I skipped a graduation pool party because I was so mortified of my chest hair and the thought of people seeing it. It shocks me a little bit, saying that now, because it seems so preposterous, but at the time it just made me feel so old to have chest hair. I felt like I had lost my “boyhood” in some way and I didn’t want my peers to find out. I was hairy and I hated it. I hated body hair because it was something beyond my control that articulated my sexuality in a much more adult way than I was comfortable with at the time. I was just a kid! I wanted to have foppy hair and be tan and hairless, like all the other boys who weren’t prematurely sporting a chest carpet.

Now, I make jokes about being an “otter,” though I don’t have a particularly firm grasp on what that means and should probably tone that shit down considering it’s a search term people are legitimately using to find my blog. Long story short, I used to be a bit “cray” when it came to body confidence, and am now doing much better. But what is body confidence vs. self confidence?

And so I found myself there, sitting next to this guy on this train, and we talked and it was fine. I survived. But as I grow older and my sense of style becomes less rigidly defined by my sex (if I want it to), I have to wonder if these moments that wrench me out of my comfort zone, an evolving space as it is, will become more or less frequent. When I get married will I want to wear a skirt? A kimono? A turban? I want to feel comfortable in any and all of this and I want to feel like I own my sexuality regardless of the sociosexual dynamic of being in a relationship. And as I grow older – when I pick my kids up from school, for instance – what will I be wearing? How will they see me? What will other parents tell them? How will other people inform them about sex and gender and binaries and dichotomies?

We all know you can’t control how others see you, or you and your family; how they interpret what they see and what that means to them. But there’s coming to terms with that and thinking you’ve come to terms with that and then OH SHIT I haven’t come to terms with that and I just want him to like meeeee. So I guess I wrote this just to say that I don’t fully own my sexuality yet; that I don’t necessarily feel 100% comfortable in my own skin when I choose to flout conventions in whatever small ways. But I think I’m ok with knowing that, and knowing that I’m working on it. Photo Anthony Urbano; illustration moi

BRAVE NEW WORLD (ON MEN IN SKIRTS)

In this post: photography David Williams // beanie Topman (seen here and here) //jacket vintage // leggings American Apparel (seen here) // skirt thrifted // shoes thrifted (seen here and here)

Men in skirts. It’s a hot button issue that has people in the streets talking – how will we know who’s a woman and who’s a man anymore in this freaky deaky gender-bending upside-down world? The answer? You won’t! Muahahaha, the Gay Agenda strikes again! Soon there will no longer be ‘boy’ and ‘girl’ babies, just cribs labeled, ‘Jaden’ or ‘Roxx’.
Joke! But, seriously, there has been an increased public interest in men wearing skirts, if only because of the continued influence of Kanye West and his designer-dud-loving hip-hop contemporaries. When I last touched on this issue (Men Without Pants), I declared, “wearing a skirt isn’t emasculating because maybe looking ‘like a woman’, like looking ‘like a man’, isn’t something to be ashamed of – nor is it something defined by an article of clothing.” That statement still pretty well sums up my feelings on this issue, but now that I’m a convert myself, the absurdity of our social unease with men wearing skirts is more profoundly striking.
A skirt is, in terms of construction, an absurdly sexless garment. It’s a piece of f*cking fabric that you wrap around/pull up on your waist. Sure, they get more complicated, but not necessarily so. My friend Brandon, one of the most distinctive and honest dressers I know, recently wrote a great post about the societal implications of his sartorial preference for skirts, describing them as an empowering weapon against oppressive heteronormativity. My skirt-wearing has not gotten that far and doesn’t resonate with me so deeply (yet), but taking this chance, slight as it is, has left me feeling emboldened to explore my options outside of the prescriptive world of #menswear. Can I wear a dress? How? What is a dress? Why is a skirt? There’s a lot of layering potential my eyes have been opened to recently because of this – could I wear a dress over pants? A shirt over that? A blazer with a skirt? Understanding these items divorced from gender helps eliminate outdated connotations – that a man wearing women’s clothing is, “in drag,” or “cross dressing.” Those things are separate from this, but hoping the general public will comprehend that is…reaching.

But here’s what you really want to know…so I bought this tartan skirt for $12 a few months ago and have been struggling to figure out how best to wear it. It made its debut a few months back (check it out on Instagram here), but hasn’t gotten much action since. I decided to give it another go during post-blizzard fashion week while shooting outside Lincoln Center. I was pretty miserably cold, but I managed to get photographed by BuzzFeed Shift (I’m number 24 on their list), so obviously I make great life choices. This second time around I’ve paired it with my super intense fringed leather biker jacket that I love so much, but have never shot for the blog before. I literally die for fringe, plus this S.O.B. has epaulets – be still my beating heart! Leggings are an obvious must when going sans pants in the dead of winter and I like the way my thrifted Bass platforms give the outfit a schoolgirl-gone-bad edge. One thing I want to make note of, in typing out my thoughts here – I’m indeed wearing a (vintage) size 12 woman’s skirt here, not a kilt, the difference being…I mean, IDK, but it’s not an authentic kilt. Also, can I get a hurrah for a half-thrifted half-vintage outfit that’s decidedly modern? That is all.
Click through to read about my inspirations for this post!

Or…from gay to Kimye! Marc Jacobs was big into skirt-wearing a few years ago, then Givenchy showed them, then Kanye West wore them. Also, a cute picture of models wearing kilts in an MJ ad and Gerard Butler proving that real men (?) wear kilts.
 

IF IT AIN’T BROKE

Then I ain’t gonna fix it. What can I say? I love these shoes and I love the way they pop with an all-black ensemble. I’m still really into the sporty thing I’ve had going and can’t bring myself to get too adventurous in the dead of winter. Granted, there’ve been some crazy warm spells this season, but I’m playing it safe. The jeans are Cheap Monday – I traded in an old pair of Levi’s 501’s for ’em. That may sound sacrilegious to any vintage fans reading along, but I had to be honest with myself – I just wasn’t wearing the 501’s! As much sentimental value as they held, they were simply taking up valuable closet space when I needed a pair of black skinnies. Economics can be brutal.

The sweater is from Saturdays. I found it originally at OAK, held out on buying it because of the cost, then tried to find it during sale season to no avail. Luckily, the Saturdays boutiques are also having a mondo sale right now, and the folks at their SoHo location were nice enough to call their West Village location and have them put an XS on hold for me (one of two left!) The joys of successful bargain hunting. Shop similar: t-shirt, jeans, sweater, sneaks. Thanks, Ian, for taking my pics! 

ON BEING A GIRL, BY A WOMAN

Y’all didn’t think I’d let Girls Week come to a close without actually featuring the wit and wisdom of an actual, real-live girl did you? Of course not! So I Googled, “girl” and compiled some feedback on being a woman from a mash-up of Wikipedia entries probably written by women. Joke! I asked one of my best friends from college, Nicole, if she would mind contributing a piece about what it means to be a girl. Considering the pointed use of the term as the title of grown woman Lena Dunham’s hit show, and further considering that show’s second season debut as the impetus for this entire themed week, I feel it’s only fitting to analyze the conditions of its usage and ask what it feels like to be a girl vs. a woman (in a man’s world?) Graphic obviously from Texts From Hillary. P.S. Hillary 2016.

About four or five years ago, a male friend told me to turn on my TV because there was a girl talking about the presidential election. I fumbled for the remote. I’d seen a few adorable videos with children exploring their early political interests and singing parody songs about the election, so I was excited to hear what this girl had to say. When I flipped to CNN, my eyes popped when I realized that this girl was actually a middle-aged woman with a Ph.D in foreign policy. I’d expected to see a little kid and instead I was watching an incredibly articulate adult. To me, girl meant child and to my friend, girl meant female. That’s when I started paying attention to the usage of girl versus woman.

Click through to continue reading this post!
I’m a word person. I studied feminist rhetoric in college and I am deeply invested in identifying the subtle gender-specific pronouns in our vocabularies. I know I’m hypersensitive to a lot of gender inequalities at which other people wouldn’t bat an eyelash. See what I did there? I don’t pay attention to these choices because I think it’s ironic, or funny, or interesting – I seek them out because I am so acutely aware of their impact. A few nights ago, while I was enjoying dinner with my partner, my phone buzzed. It was a group text from a family friend wishing a Happy New Year to, “my sweet girls and their men.” The message was meant sincerely, so I thanked her, but I couldn’t read it without considering the subliminal imbalance in her phrasing.
Unless there’s a distinct precedence to use “woman,” I’ve found that the general public usually uses “girl” to mean “female.” This would be okay if the gender equivalent “boy” was used as often to mean male…but it isn’t. Depending on the situation, a male may be a “guy,” or a “man,” or a “dude,” or a “bro”. While some of these are not the most flattering choices, they still emphasize dominating characteristics. When “boy” is used it’s to emphasize permissible immature behavior, because, you know, boys will be boys.
As girls – I mean, as women – we spend so much time distinguishing the boys from the men. We want a man who has a real job and savings account and an adult-size bed with a boxspring that isn’t resting on the floor. We don’t focus as much on the girl becoming a woman. It’s okay to be daddy’s little girl until, you know, you find someone else to take care of you. It’s okay if we don’t know how to change a tire or pay a bill – girls don’t like dirt. Or math. It may sound trivial, but these generalities and subtle diction choices make all the difference. As women, our titles are too often defined by our relationships to the men in our lives. We’re Little Miss Child until we’re married and then we’re Mrs. HusbandsName. Not me. No, thank you.
I’ll break it down a bit so next time you’re describing a female, you can decide which word to use:
Girls are children.
Girls are fragile.
Girls need parental consent
Girls need a guardian to see a movie in a public theater.
Girls must be escorted by an adult in expensive department stores.
Girls have curfews.
Girls have bedtimes.
Girls are adorable dreamers, but, like little boys, they are also incredibly needy, reliant and submissive.
Women are adults.
Women are strong.
Women are self-sufficient.
Women are in control of their own decisions.
Women can vote.
Women can drive.
Women are responsible.
Women can buy a house.
Women can run for office.
Women can hold rank in the military.
Women can decline sex and unwanted advances.

Women can be adorable dreamers, too. And they are fun and playful and adventurous. Women are free to be everything that girls are, but because they have wisdom and perspective, they can make active decisions about who they want to be – decidedly not Mrs. HusbandsName.

Chiming in with my two cents here at the end – I think Nicole closes on an interesting point that actress Zosia Mamet briefly touched on in a Today Show interview, describing a person’s 20’s as a, “terribly selfish period of life,” a time when a person is preoccupied with coming to terms with his or her identity. It seems the wisdom and perspective Nicole mentions here as components of Womanhood and their apparent lacking in the characters in Girls may explain Dunham’s title choice. In which case I imagine we should just get rid of the term, “men,” because…I mean, really. (Joke!)[#donaldtrump] For more of Nicole, check out her blogLike this post? Then read up on gender and sexuality here and here.
 

LEGGINGS FOR MEN (AND ADVENTURES IN SPANDEX)

There’s been a lot of internet talk about the style phenomenon of “meggings” lately: What are they? Where did they come from? Are they happening to your children? Though not necessarily a new trend – The Cut first wrote about them three years ago, but recently revisited the topic – they are indeed a divisive one. I, as you can see, decided to jump onboard this bandwagon and ride it to its post-metrosexual end – but first, I had to find a suitable pair of leggings. My adventure began at OAK, a great place to begin any journey for which the desired end lies distinctly over the sartorial rainbow. I asked one of the meggings-clad associates where I might procure my own pair and wound up at American Apparel, copping the brand’s winter leggings…technically for women, but also for me. My references for wearing these babies (and what sparked my interest in them in the first place) came from the stylings of Robert Geller and Givenchy:

My interpretation is, admittedly, ultra-sporty, as I’m also operating under the influence of Jun Takahashi’s haute fitness collaborative line with Nike, Gyakusou – and let’s not forget yesterday’s editorial. I paired my leggings with oversized leather shorts (borrowed from a friend) and my new (secondhand) Y-3 sneaks. I rounded out the ultra-sporty look with a blueberry hoodie to complement the color of the shoes, plus I just love that color. So much so that this also happened:

I borrowed my friend Michael’s F/W’11 Gareth Pugh top for a day (you can see the runway version on a ladymodel here.) Five percent spandex, for the win! This has nothing to do with meggings, I just wanted to share that life event with you all. Happy Monday!

 

[TRENDSPOTTING] STATEMENT SWEATPANTS

God bless T Magazine for having a story on “the statement sweatpant.” And that hair! This louche athleticism is really on my mind these days and majorly affecting my steez – more on that tomorrow.  Photos Matthew Kristall.

 

[STREET STYLE] MASCULIN FÉMININ

For today’s street style post I’ve decided to take advantage of the distinct differences in the above street style shots to talk about gender and sexual identity, especially the way one’s gender is or is not expressed through sartorial choices. But, to switch things up, I decided that as all subjects are presumably of the female sex (though not necessarily gender), I would “pass the mic” to Nora of Genderqueer Fashionista (a fellow Virginia transplant!) for her perspective on the outfits in these photos and what they say about the person wearing them. Ed. note: I showed Nora the top and bottom photos in this set, then realized I had two other pictures that helped illustrate the topic. Her commentary refers to the top and bottom shots only, but points she makes are applicable to all four photos.

People who are non-binary gendered–that is anyone who identifies or presents their gender outside the boxes of male-assigned, man identified and female-assigned, woman-identified–blur the lines between bodies, presentation, and gendered expectations. And I think style is a big part of that. How we dress signals a lot about ourselves, and one of the most basic elements of that is gender. Person two seems to be signalling a non-binary identity with their clothing, where person one could much more easily be acknowledged as a woman.

Person one is doing what I would call socially appropriate androgyny. She is clearly wearing all women’s clothing that’s influenced by menswear shapes (a tapered pant, a blazer). However, all these items fit her as women’s wear. Notably, her blazer is nipped at the waist and flares at the hip to create a strong feminine silhouette. She comes off as crisp, classic, simple, elegant.

Person two is doing gender in their own way. Their clothes aren’t clearly men’s nor women’s (since the way fashion works is that clothes cannot just be for humans, they have to be gendered) and thus, you can’t really discern how this person identifies in terms of gender. They could be genderqueer, transmasculine, cismale who happens to have hips, a masculine woman, or many other options. They look androgynous, but not in a way that’s particularly stylish or comfortable for most people.

To me, what person 2 is doing is much more revolutionary. We live in times where it’s not strange that men and women often wear many of the same garments. This is far more complicated when your gender does not neatly fit one of those boxes. It’s hard if you have a “masculine” (read: broad shoulders, V shaped upper body, no hips, etc.) body to find skirts and dresses to fit you and vice versa for folks with “feminine” (hips, narrow upper body, breasts, etc.) bodies to find button down shirts, blazers and trousers that won’t emphasize those traits.

The whole “tomboy style” moment does feel like something that is for straight, otherwise conventionally beautiful women, where genderqueer/queer style is something that may have some of the same elements (button downs, oxford shoes, utilitarian bags, looser fit, preppy/classic pieces, etc.) but is something fundamentally different. Gender of course is different than sexuality, but I do feel like straight women do “tomboy” differently than queer folks. I hope we’ll get to a point where that’s not the case, where folks of all varieties will embrace the gender spectrum, but it will take time. I’m glad at the very least that many shoe designers are taking note of the fact that not all people like to wear heels!


Thank you, Nora! Like this post? Then check out My Frontiersmen and Some Boys Like Me. 

BUFFALO CHECK

photos Pete Oliviëra // jacket (seen here and here) N/A // necklace vintage // shirt (seen here) Comme des Garçons SHIRT // pants vintage from 10 ft. Single // boots (seen here) Forfex at Opening Ceremony
Buffalo plaid is one of my favorite fall/winter fabrics. The graphic two-tone check is classic in red, but here in blue on a pair of women’s pants from the eighties it has the punk appeal my ‘drobe needs. I’d been on the hunt for a hammertime-esque pair of pants in a good plaid when I came across these babies at 10 ft. Single (285 N. 6th St., check it out.) They’re really high-waisted, so I have to wear a longer shirt with them to balance the look, otherwise it’s too easy to tell that the last person who owned them was sixty-five and named Miriam. The result is a spin on my “model off duty” outfit from a few weeks ago, with a bit more of a fashion-y edge. What’s your favorite fabric for the colder months? 

THE PARTY + THE AFTERPARTY

Today I’ve recreated the outfit I wore to the opening party of What Goes Around Comes Around’s Astor Place pop-up shop AND THEN taken it from soirée to street. BAM, #fashionwriting. For this outfit I really wanted to play with suiting proportions. I picked up the sportcoat from boutique-cum-homegoods-shop-cum-atelier DEAR:Rivington+ for half off over the summer. Owner Moon Rhee told me the cut was really successful in Japan, so I couldn’t resist. The length makes it easy to dress up and dress down, plus it pairs perfectly with the one cool pair of black pants that I own. On the night of the party I was torn between a statement necklace and a bolo tie (I’m sure your husband can relate…) but found myself swayed by the understated sophistication of the bolo. I feel it should be noted, before I move on to the specs of Look No. 2, that I do not own an iron. Wrinkles #FTW.

To make the outfit more casual, I got rid of the shirt/tie combo and popped on a DEAR:Rivington+ embroidered short-sleeved sweatshirt. Sweatshirts are sooo hot this season, but I couldn’t afford one of the many designer ones (Balenciaga/Kenzo, what have you) if I sold my liver on eBay. Or could I? This baby is my alternative. I love that it’s so sporty…but has a giant doily on the front. The patent Stacy Adams brogues I replaced with my combination sex worker/combat boots (more on these later), et voilà! I can comfortably stalk the streets of lower Manhattan…
Soundtrack: The Weeknd – The Party & The After Party // photos Pete Olivëra 

MODEL OFF DUTY

photos Pete Oliviëra // beanie Topman // teesh thrifted // jacket N/A (seen here) // pants Acne (seen here) // scarf vintage (seen here) // bag Croquis (seen here) // boots vintage (seen here)

Here we have my interpretation of what I like to call “model off duty” style. The ingredients are as follows: skinny black pants + heavy boots + leather. It never fails. The fringed olive scarf adds a lighter touch to this look and ties in with the military theme color palette. Peep the outfit credits to see how I wore it with a suit, PLUS how I wore the jacket with jeans AND ALSO how I dressed up my Acne pants!

P.S. Winter is a’comin’. Commence beanie obsession.

Check out my inspiration board, after the jump!

all photos Vanessa Jackman; 

Ruby Aldridge has the most blazin’ off-duty model style, ever. I’m thinking of hiring a shaman so I can channel this lady for dayz.