Welcome to our first full-group post: We all got dressed for #MenswearMonday across space and time zones, and are bringing that to you here! So…what is “Menswear?” Here’s my working definition:
Clothing items, fabrics, and patterns typically worn by men in the West post-Industrial Revolution
- Clothing items: pants, ties, button up shirts, blazers, vests, tie shoes
- Fibers and fabrics: wool, chambray, twill, denim, broadcloth/poplin
- Patterns: plaid, herringbone, houndstooth, pinstripe, tweeds
Now, as you’ll read in the reflections by our Sartorial Scholars below, ‘men’ and ‘West’ can be questioned, and the historical scope is important. The use of these items for business and hunting and later for leisure by variously identifying people actually has a long history, which we’ll dig into another day. #MenswearMonday as a social media phenomenon is only a few years old–I posted my first outfit photo using the tag a little over two years ago, and I was joining midstream. Its use as a thematic dressing prompt for people who don’t think of themselves as men is actually a secondary one, but it’s obviously my favorite!
Read on to see how we each took on that prompt, and how we derived our outfit! You’ll also find listening, looking, and reading recommendations to get this week started right! To begin, here are tutorials for the two kinds of neckwear featured in the post: a cravat and the classic four-in-hand. Tag us on Instagram or Twitter if you are inspired by us to take up the MenswearMonday call, or use #SartorialScholarsMM!
As someone who wears menswear on the daily, #MenswearMonday was pretty much par for the course for me. Gender is always a performative experience, and I feel much more comfortable wearing what contemporary Westo-centric, heteronormative culture considers “masculine” or “androgynous” clothing. As I’ve written about here and here, I prefer button ups and loafers to heels and dresses.
There are always complications when talking about “menswear” and dressing “manly.” In one way, we are subverting gender norms, but in another we are still centering around masculinity and associating it with what makes a “man.” As a feminist blogger, I am compelled to point out that focusing on masculine wear is an aesthetic choice. This does not mean that I think we should chide people who like to express their personality with a more feminine aesthetic.
People who prefer a femme performance should be given the same amount of respect and deference as people who perform a more masculine gender aesthetic. Unfortunately, due to misogyny and patriarchy, we live in a society that prizes masculinity over femininity, men over women, and what are stereotypically “male” characteristics over “female” characteristics. Hence, my feminist disclaimer.
If you’re a person that is interested in subverting gender norms through masculine and/or “menswear” fashion, I highly recommend the following blogs, websites, and links to Insta accounts:
- A Dapper Queer http://www.dapperq.com/
- She’s a Gent http://www.shesagent.com/
- Pinterest’s Queer Fashion boards
- VeerNYC http://veernyc.com/
- Wildfang https://www.wildfang.com/
- Veea http://www.androgynousfashion.com/
- Fuck Yeah Women in Suits http://fywomeninsuits.tumblr.com/
Menswear Monday Track: Ciara’s Like a Boy. All day every day.
So, maybe I completely cheated on #MenswearMonday, or maybe I completely subverted and further blurred conceptions of what it means to dress masculine or feminine. (I’ll go with the latter.) The last few weeks, I have been doing #MenswearMonday by wearing a blazer and pants, as when I went British schoolboy and wore layered polka dots. But this week, I decided to play with textures that are considered masculine, but in traditionally feminine colors and silhouettes.
I wore wingtips, but mine happened to be T-strap pumps. I wore a button up shirt and a tie, but the shirt was in an unapologetically pink floral print. I wore houndstooth, but in an exaggerated size on a monochrome pencil skirt.
Thinking historically, pink was not always a feminine color. In fact, pink was a masculine color first and it was the color little boys used to wear. So, I turned to a few art history pieces of bros in pink, including Hans Holbein’s The Ambassadors (seen behind my wingtip pump). There are many great short pieces on the gendered history of pink, including:
- “Pink Wasn’t Always Girly” (from The Atlantic)
- “Girls Are Taught To ‘Think Pink,’ But That Wasn’t Always So” (via NPR)
- “When Did Girls Start Wearing Pink?” (via The Smithsonian)
Outfit Specs: Shirt (GAP, I have a tea-length dress in the same color & pattern); sweater (Banana Republic); skirt (Target); shoes (Isaac Mizrahi for Target); tie (Dockers); tights (H&M?)
SOTD: Gentlewoman by Juliette Has a Gun. Juliette’s mix of neroli, bergamot, almond, and musk. It still smells like a very clean skin scent to me, but they market it as “a masculine fragrance dedicated to women.”
Menswear Monday Track: David Bowie’s “Boys Keep Swinging”: Clothes always fit ya /
Life is a pop of the cherry / When you’re a boy / When you’re a boy/ You can wear a uniform
I don’t really know what I consider menswear (still looking for that perfect tuxedo style blazer, but I consider that more Janelle Monae-wear), but I do know that I really enjoy the days where I can dress in something that encourages pigeon-toed power stances all day long. Plus, it’s always cold in the office, so a heavy flannel (with perhaps one button too many unbuttoned; also, shout out to that second date I once had where another button accidentally popped open and the dude said absolutely as I sat there with my bra out) makes it a little easier to stay there until 7:00.
I never commute to/from work without music, and I wore this outfit shortly after I added Ludacris’ “Move Bitch” to my playlist.
This song really, truly encapsulates my feelings as a pedestrian in Europe—I have very strong opinions on slow walkers and people unaware of the space their body occupies in the world. Weirdly, this happens to be old people and dudes of any age. Old dudes are the worst. I’ve gotten sideswiped so many times by people who are so unwilling to believe that I won’t move for them. So for #menswearmonday, I walked like a dude while Luda told everyone else to get out the way.
Sometimes ‘MenswearMondays’ for me means wearing pants which I used to not do. This week, I was trying to do two/three themes at once: Menswear and #DowntonMonday (only a thing in my own head–on Mondays after I watch Downton Abbey I am inspired by the clothes of the mid-20s, and now I have also been LOVING what Edith Crawley wears to work, basically lux jumpers and blouses).
This dress from H&M–cheap cotton/synthetic blend I wish I had bought in every color–is the closest I have currently to a jumper, and I had been wondering about layering it anyway. It’s also the right length. So dress+chambray button-up from J.Crew outlet+hand-me-down tie; this was my dad’s but I’ve worn it since high school. It was warmish here but I still wanted another layer, so I went with this drapey blazer from Pitaya (which I also wish I had in every color). I belted it, which is not in keeping with the 20s, because it was getting bulky and I wanted the definition.
Details from the look: As a nod to the 20s, I faked a slight ‘finger wave’ with a strategic bobby pin and a side bun, lined upper and lower lids, and put my blush farther forward than normal. I’m wearing my gorgeous blue suede Cole Haan wingtips, and here’s me with my navy leather gloves (Target) and a wool felt hat from Urban Outfitters.
The tie, shirt, blazer and shoes are what make this a menswear look for me. The dress and the vintage-costume aspect make it ‘Alex.’
MenswearMondayMusic: I have a special place in my heart for the Four Seasons, even if with a dress on I didn’t really ‘walk like a man.’
I literally cannot handle menswear. There is something about it that I’m averse to at this point in my life. Maybe it’s because I was very ambivalent about being a tomboy as a young girl. Maybe it’s because it’s incredibly hard to find a button down shirt that fits me. So, anyway, when I thought “menswear,” I was like, blazer? Jeans? NO. I GOT IT. COWBOY. Because then I could wear the only button down I own, that is not even a real button down. Obviously I ended up taking this in the most femme-y direction I could.
Outfit specs: Craft fair necklace, thrifted shirt (brand = Elle. hey kohls hey.), skirt is an H&M dress I just DIYed into a skirt (more in a future post, hopefully), Hue tights, Crown Vintage boots, Forever 21 bangles