When I stopped shopping by gender, I fell in love with fashion again

I have always been fascinated by clothing for women. As a child, my tomboy sister refused to wear her frilly pink princess dresses and toddler heels, but I coveted them. I found solace in playing with Barbie dolls and dressing like the Spice Girls, but every time I tried to wear something I inherently loved, like a tiara, I was told it was false. “Boys don’t wear this. “

I ended up coming out of this phase of fashion and started wearing clothes that were deemed “appropriate” for boys. Soccer jerseys, grubby t-shirts and oversized suits have never been so me, but I accepted. Even now, as a mature male in my late twenties, I still find myself shopping with that same narrow point of view. Even though the women’s section still looks much larger, with more colors and fun pieces, I will conscientiously go to the men.

But lately, I have completely rethought my approach to shopping, with a growing faction of the industry. I’ve been in a rut since the world started to open up again. Never had that feeling where you wake up and think, I have nothing to wear? It’s me, just everyday. Seeing stars like Lil Nas X, Kid Cudi and Harry Styles pushing the boundaries of gendered style on the red carpet inspired me to take an introspective look at my own style and how I may be limiting myself for no good reason. . I decided a few months ago that I would finally have my hot girl in the summer because I am finally ready to shop in the women’s section. In the process, I fell in love with fashion again.

Now am I saying that crossing the imaginary line between the men’s section and the women’s section is a revolutionary, life-changing concept? Absolutely not. Men have been wearing women’s clothing, and vice versa, for ages. But for me, this new exploratory phase was a game-changer (and a long overdue choice).

My first business was back in June when I visited 10ft Single by Stella Dallas in Brooklyn (one of my favorite vintage stores). I wanted to pick a familiar store that I would be comfortable browsing through women’s clothing in, and figured the cool crowd there wouldn’t bother me (lots of Gen Z teens and Bella Hadid, stores here). Even though the men’s offer is still pretty good, I ended up scoring in the women’s section: I picked up two simple silk blouses – one black, one burgundy – which I wear almost every day with jeans. . I also found a tourist tank from Hawaii that has ruched sides (it’s very Isabel Marant-esque).

In July, I discovered the women’s assortment at Tokio 7, one of my favorite stores in town, where I admired a crochet Chloé coat and a purple Anglomania blouse that so 80s in the best way. While shopping online, I also recently purchased a Dion Lee bandana print tank top and a patent By Far shoulder bag. I also ogled a Chopova skirt. The amount of women’s clothing on my wish list keeps growing. It seems that after a severe drought of shopping and unable to find anything that looks like me, I finally found my mode mojo. While much of my wardrobe still leans toward the masculine – it’s hard to break a habit I’ve been conditioned to – there is something about incorporating feminine pinks or purples. , or silhouettes more concerned with the body, which gives the impression right. The solution was in front of me the whole time, just in a different area of ​​the store.

However, expanding my scope of action in the area of ​​gender has not been without obstacles. On the one hand, size is everything very different: I had to quickly learn what my waistlines and tops translate to women’s sizes. Unfortunately, there isn’t a handy conversion chart to determine this (although someone should!). It took me a lot of testing and experimentation to determine the height of my women (it turns out I’m about 12 years old). Another obstacle? Even when the clothes fit, they are often not fit fit. Women’s pants, for example, can adjust to the waist, but have a smaller crotch area and are therefore often prohibited. But overall, shopping for women’s tops and coats was a snap. Accessories are also always a safe bet, and they’re an easy way to dip your toes into genderless dressing.

As this change occurs industry-wide, these barriers may decrease over time. Physical retail stores like Dover Street Market and Browns East are now rethinking their layouts and clearing their floor space, organizing products by brand or color by gender. Online retailers like Ssense or Farfetch also offer the same products in their male and female tabs, allowing consumers to shop freely in between. On a larger scale, brands also design with a more genderless consumer in mind. Dion Lee, Telfar, and Ludovic de Saint Sernin all make unisex clothes that are well cut and can lean towards a more masculine or feminine aesthetic, depending on the wearer. Skirts are adopted by all genders as well, and labels like Chopova Lowena style them for men, women and non-binary people. Sex, it seems, no longer matters in the quest for chic.

Personally, I’ve learned that all of my preconceptions – that women would judge me for shopping in their department, that people would look at me in disgust if I wore a women’s piece in public – were all wrong. In fact, no one even laughed at me, even as I was hanging out in the street with my new purse or my new blouse. And maybe it’s because I’m in New York where it all happens. There is a certain privilege in dressing the way you want in New York City, and how in other parts of the world this experimentation is less accepted and could even be seen as a dangerous act. This freedom has helped me embrace my attraction to femininity. 29 years later, what I’m wearing is starting to make me feel like myself again.

Originally appeared on Vogue

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