By Lauren Orr
I have never liked being told how to dress. Growing up with conservative parents, my parents always told me what I could and couldn’t wear as soon as I hit puberty. When I was little, no one really cared how I dressed, but as soon as I “blossomed,” the way I dressed mattered to everyone. My teachers, my friends, my parents, random people on the street. All of a sudden I wasn’t really dressing for myself anymore, but for everyone in the world around me. Instead of just wearing what I wanted and what I felt good in, I wore what my parents allowed me to wear and what everyone else expected me to wear.
Growing up, and now as well, I was always close to my older brother who is less than a year older than me. Because of that, and the way my home life was, I think I developed a lot of “manly” mannerisms. I’ve never been much of a girly girl in my life, despite the fact that I liked playing with Barbies and make-up; I’ve always been more interested in what the boys liked to do. I generally have closer friendships with men than I do woman (until I started living in my sorority) because I just seemed to get along better with them and enjoyed doing “boy” things. This tendency that I have to lean more towards the masculine side of my personality trickled into my fashion sense as well. While I read Vogue and Allure and tons of fashion magazines, and keep up with a majority of fashion trends, I still look at men’s fashion with a higher level of appreciation.
If I had a choice between being able to wear joggers and fancy sneakers or a brand new dress from Nordstrom, I would choose the former. I like the look of jeans, a large white t shirt, and combat boots. I like beanies (even though I look awful in hats) and hoodies. But for some reason, I know that if I wore that every day, people would judge me for it. When I do wear outfits that look more like that, if my jeans aren’t glued to my butt and my lack of cleavage emphasized, then I’m seen as less than a woman. Don’t get me wrong, though, I still like wearing dresses and leggings and booties and all the rest of that cute stuff. But some days I just want to wear a hoodie and some loose jeans, and go about my life. I want the ability to see a men’s trend in fashion, put that awesome shit on my body, and then move on. But that’s just not really how it works, for some reason. I know I shouldn’t care what people think about the way that I dress, and most of the time I don’t really care, but I still want to be seen as cute or pretty. It might just be my vanity, but I want people to look at me and think, not only is she stylish, but she’s adorable. And when I wear men’s clothes, people don’t seem to really think that. I’m not sure why that is exactly, because I’m just as petite and girl-like when I wear my brother’s flannels, but people tend not to notice it as much.
My personality tends to swing from wanting to wear the floral dresses that are expected of a small woman, and wanting to wear men’s clothes. I think a big reason for my fascination with men’s fashion is that I feel like I will be more respected by my male peers if I dress like them. Because when I do act more masculine, they seem to accept me like a person, rather than a girl. When I am around men, I feel like if my feminine side is more apparent than my masculine side, then I get hit on and flirted with and I feel uncomfortable to even be in that situation. But when I’m wearing boy’s clothes, am cursing, and acting masculine, I’m not flirted with and can have conversations that I’m more interested in. I feel that, as a woman, when interacting with a man, they tend to talk down to me a little, or treat me as a little girl. Or like someone they want to sleep with. But when I’m more manly, I’m just a friend and can be more comfortable.
For me, while I want my cute and girly side to be apparent, I feel more comfortable (especially around men) to behave in a manlier fashion. And so I wear men’s clothes. I’m pretty sure this says something about our society, that to be respected I feel like I have to be more masculine. I think that other women would say the same thing if asked as well. To be feminine is to be considered beautiful, but masculinity equals respect. I’ll let you think about that while I go put on my combat boots and flannel.
Over and out – Lauren