Tradition used to drive the construct of menswear; authentic design, clear-cut details and the structure of a man’s outfit but more and more designers are conceiving their ideas from womenswear.
It appears womenswear functions within a more open foundation than the clinched frame of mens designs. The innovation lacks, the concepts meagre and the inspiration ranges from khaki, polos and tailored suits back to military design. Where cooperate professionalism positions pencil skirts and heels against suits and oxfords, the divide between masculine and feminine continues just as it has since we were dressed in pink and blue. So why do we place so much emphasis on the gender specificality of clothing?
Menswear, a mere clichéd range of stereotypical heteronormative design; womenswear on the other hand – bold, new, creative and most seasons, completely unrecognisable, affirming its cutting-edge design. It wasn’t always like this though. For a brief period in history, the decade of the 80s and its weave into the 90s saw fashion range from men in makeup, long hair – Mr Big rocked that look (quite literally), and jewellery replicating that of their female counterparts.
I know what you’re thinking, where do the clothes come into this. So, how about that famous, or infamous Nightmare on Elm Street scene where Johnny Depp is sporting a crop top jersey? Or, David Bowie in his many shades of pink, even patterned pants and strap down overalls.
Today, the indefatigable approach prevailing from society, both men and women alike; to drive the abhorrent heteronormative design out of menswear is pushing men’s fashion into the spotlight and a modern age approach to design has begun to ensue. Having men learn to embrace their femininity can not only bring about confidence and effect their outlook on identity but it pushes the boundaries of societal hetereo fashion benchmarks and shows non-conformity to the principles of gender norms.
Pucker Mob says that to dress with confidence is not just about staying up to date with wardrobe trends but about “liking what you’re wearing, looking balanced and feeling confident in all circumstances”. Now that’s something you don’t often hear about fashion; looking balanced, but it’s true. You know those days when you put on an outfit and you feel like something is missing or something’s just not right? That’s the balance, and when you finally figure it out you feel confident and happy about your choices and yourself, well at least that’s how I feel.
Styles of the 80s and 90s oozed creativity, bold statements and non-conformity, even more comfortability as far as fashion choices go. It’s slowly minimised into a fluidity of fashion, notably the “androgynous” style but we’re once again branching out and building up to masculine and feminine separation being squashed.
Men need a way to feel free and expressive through fashion statements that burst through the convoluted rules and allows them to bask in glory at their balance of masculinity and femininity whether their gay, straight, bisexual, or otherwise.
Take this Try Guys video for instance. In this we see three men, the first Eugene Lee Yang who is confident and comfortable wearing a crop top and has done so many times before. The following two: Keith Habersberger and Zach Kornfeld who are seemingly uncomfortable at first yet end up embracing the experience.
In a 2015 VICE article British-Somali author Diriye Osman said upon donning a dress for the first time that he felt, “Sensual, beautiful, powerful, virile”. An ample range of compelling words that sum up the emotion that can be experienced through deconstructing the foundations of heteronormative men’s fashion.
To deconstruct we not only are moving forward with designers approaching women’s fashion as inspiration but we should also look back to the decades of daring style in men’s fashion. It may be hard to siphon through the herd of styles to decide what we should and shouldn’t bring back, so let’s just dip our toes in and have a quick splash through some of the nostalgia triggering ensembles.
Shoulder padded suits, high waisted jeans and pastel everywhere else… what more could we ask for? The colours warming, a nice padded suit can look quite slick but come on, did we ever pull off high waisted jeans for men, I’m still undecided.
Leather is back and it’s back with a vengeance. Maybe we won’t go as far as a full leather suit this time (unless your Catwoman of course) but give me leather pants and jackets any day and I swear guys, you’ll rock them as well as Mr Big rocked that perm.
You loved to hate them, hate that you loved them but you must admit the overall trend was bloody comfortable.
Wake me up before you glow glow; from the brightness of that short short flare. Coloured patches in half and half incase you couldn’t decide what single colour shorts to wear. Sweaters and gloves and baggy shirts, please bring back the short shorts, the rest can stay in the 80s.
Let’s bring home the Bacon, Kevin Bacon that is, with this mighty sweater jean combo that’s really tugging on my movie lovers heart strings. Flared jeans a thing of the 70s have continued their tirade in fashion over the decades, yet I still have a solid love hate relationship with them.
What’s your favourite men’s fashion trend you want to see back on our streets?