It's Not My Boyfriend's, It's Mine: An Ode To Men's Clothing


Now that Gap makes “boyfriend” jeans for babies, the whole “boyfriend” trend can seem heteronormative and lame. But I still love wearing men’s clothing — though I prefer to buy it for myself.

February Vogue devotes its Index (pictured above) to menswear, and offers this typically tone-deaf introduction:

We’ve all had that moment of looking into a closet full of clothes and finding nothing to wear. What to do? Nick something from the boyfriend’s! “Men’s clothes make women feel powerful and sexy — and leave a lot to the imagination,” says model Anja Rubik […]

While I’ll admit that I like wearing my boyfriend’s shirts, I find “boyfriend” kind of gross as a descriptor for clothes. It implies a) that the wearer has a boyfriend, and b) that she’s wearing his clothes as a way to be close to him (which always seems kind of cutesy to me) rather than as a sartorial statement in their own right. For an illustration of the ridiculousness of slapping “boyfriend” in front of everything that has a menswear feel, see Rachel Maddow.

My affection for men’s clothing has little to do with boyfriends, and everything to do with boobs. Mine are kind of little. When I was a teenager, my solution was to wear skin-tight shirts all the time, under the theory that this made them look bigger. I’m not sure it did, and as I got older, I got dissatisfied with the notion that fashion was supposed to camouflage flaws — to accentuate, hide, lengthen, or slim. I wanted to look cool — which was possible — rather than busty — which basically wasn’t.

At the same time, I was getting pretty annoyed with large swathes of women’s clothing. Don’t get me wrong — I still wear a lot of dresses, and the vast majority of my wardrobe comes from the women’s department. But like many, many women, I’ve found that certain items, sans alterations, are pretty much guaranteed not to work on my frame. Bust darts are the bane of my existence: they stick out several inches from my actual breasts, or they appear mysteriously above or below, like randomly-placed slashes. Women’s blazers also often pose a problem — fitted ones are often too roomy in the chest, making them look ill-fitting and messy on me. And even when they do fit properly, I often find “menswear-inspired” women’s pieces fussy in a way I don’t like.

To remedy this, I actually started stealing my brother’s clothing years ago, but when that particular well of generosity ran dry (he may still be mad that I cut a boatneck out of his Cardinals shirt), I bought myself my very own copy of his go-to high school suit. I don’t need men’s clothing — or boys’, in this case — to make me feel powerful or sexy, but I do like the feeling that I’m dressing like Frida Kahlo. More than that, I enjoy wearing what I like, rather than what will most effectively shove my boobs forward. My suit represents a new high of confidence and body acceptance, and I’m glad that I no longer have to borrow clothes from my brother or my boyfriend — though maybe if they’re lucky, they can borrow from me.

Most Wanted [Vogue]

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