Beyond menswear and womenswear
August 11, 2014 12:23 PM   Subscribe

Hmm. A lot of the "gender neutral" clothing in the Guardian article is actually women wearing clothing that is made for men, and that really isn't going to work for those of us with curvy bodies. I sort of worry that "gender-netural" as a fashion trend (as opposed to as a manifestation of a non-binary gender identity) is another way of stigmatizing certain kinds of women's bodies. Can you wear gender-neutral clothes if you have hips and big boobs?
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 12:30 PM on August 11, 2014 [25 favorites]

I assume that the actual woman tailor in the doc is interested in making gender-neutral clothes that do fit bodies with large breasts and hips - that's what her quotes sounded like. But it's certainly true that the ideal gender-neutral body is white/thin/young and sort of transgressively sexualized, like, sexy in a "cutting edge" way, not just an ordinary body that is gender neutral.

There already exist many ways to wear "gender neutral" clothing - that's what a lot of older folks wear, but old people are embarrassing and socially unacceptable, so their clothes just get read as "don't make me look at that" and "I give up on life" instead of gender-neutral. I don't think either of my parents own anything that is obviously for either gender (with the exception of which side the shirts button on).
posted by Frowner at 12:38 PM on August 11, 2014 [14 favorites]

In fact, actually, I think the current media focus on "gender neutral" clothing isn't really about "gender neutral" clothes at all - it's about recuperating non-cis/gender-non-conforming bodies into a fucked up discourse about sexuality and sexual availability. There are lots of ways to be gender non-conforming, but if Chad and Madison don't find you sexy, then you're doing something wrong.
posted by Frowner at 12:40 PM on August 11, 2014 [9 favorites]

Hmm. A lot of the "gender neutral" clothing in the Guardian article is actually women wearing clothing that is made for men, and that really isn't going to work for those of us with curvy bodies

If you check out the Bindle and Keep website, you can see that they are (sort of) tailoring their clothes specifically for women. I mean, they aren't particularly curvy women, but they're not any less so than other fashion models, and on of a few of them, you can definitely see that it's a more curvy cut.

I think there was a post in the blue a little while back about this trend, and Bindle and Keep started doing women's suits with the rise in same-sex weddings- a lot of women wanted to wear suits, but found that they didn't fit their bodies, and thus, they started reaching out to that demographic, and making suits for women, rather than putting women in clothes made for men.
posted by damayanti at 12:47 PM on August 11, 2014

Video title: Clothing for gender non-conforming people on the rise

Actual content: Here's some cool menswear that is being designed for people who aren't traditionally considered men.

No issue with the clothing, the movement, or the message. But false advertising -- come on, bring on the skirts for dudes and so forth.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 12:50 PM on August 11, 2014 [26 favorites]

New suit cuts for smaller, slightly curvier bodies is pretty cool, is guess, but not exactly groundbreaking. Seconding the vote for designers to start a trend of skirts and dresses for larger, more linear bodies. The article basically included the latter only as a sort of obligatory also-ran.
posted by WCWedin at 1:00 PM on August 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

But false advertising -- come on, bring on the skirts for dudes and so forth.

May I interest you in some Rick Owens?
posted by en forme de poire at 1:01 PM on August 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

The bit about Andreja Pejic, ew. My respect for any story about gender issues drops by like 75% when someone acts like a trans person's medical procedures are somehow relevant.

But other than that, this just felt so outside my experience, in which I am just as disinterested in men's suiting as I am in dresses, which is to say interesting for periodic costume purposes but otherwise ugh no.
posted by Sequence at 1:03 PM on August 11, 2014

the thing about "gender neutral" clothing is that it does not == gender non-conforming, nor does gender non-conforming == gender neutral clothing. A hoodie is gender neutral. If I put one on, no one is going to say "Rebent is so brave/gross."

I, as a 99% conforming male, am pumped as all get out for gender-neutral versions of the following items that are currently "female gendered": necklaces, form-fitting clothes with stretch in them, low-necklines (tight collars really gag me), scarves as accessories, casual jackets, leggings as bis-caz-appropriate, FLATS (be ye gone, 2-inch heel "dress shoes"!)....
posted by rebent at 1:04 PM on August 11, 2014 [7 favorites]

OK, but when are we going to see men's SHOES in women's sizes. Not those girly versions of wing tips, but real proper wingtips for tiny feet.
posted by looli at 1:04 PM on August 11, 2014 [15 favorites]

heh, right back at ya looli. I've been looking for espadrilles all summer. They don't even stock them for men in my town, and women's sizes top out about a half inch too small for my feet.
posted by rebent at 1:10 PM on August 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

Isn't the assumption that suits are menswear part of the problem, really?
posted by travelwithcats at 1:12 PM on August 11, 2014 [5 favorites]

"beyond menswear and womanswear"

first clickable links on the website for eastie empire, whose creator was interviewed for the article:

"womanswear" "menswear"
posted by Juliet Banana at 1:15 PM on August 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

May I interest you in some Rick Owens?

I wish I could say yes, but that's all pretty hideous. I retract my request; fashion designers are fabric criminals, stealing useful materials and turning them into shapeless horrors.

I'm short enough that I can get by in the petite and juniors sections. Shucks to rest of you; go learn to sew, I guess.
posted by WCWedin at 1:18 PM on August 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

I wish I could say yes, but that's all pretty hideous. I retract my request; fashion designers are fabric criminals, stealing useful materials and turning them into shapeless horrors.

Tell me about it! I have been pushing the boundaries of what I can find in the mens sections of stores and websites, but the grey, brown, black, white, beige rainbow is so depressing. You can get some Hawaiian shirts. Longer sleeved, and OMG, it's a blouse! Horror! Kilts either have to be the Scottish-est Scott plaid or a utilikilt complete with beer holder and the blood of your enemies.

"Gender-neutral" always seems like it's kind of bland and low-key. I'd like some PRETTY gender-neutral stuff, plz.
posted by xingcat at 1:23 PM on August 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

>Actual content: Here's some cool menswear that is being designed for people who aren't traditionally considered men.

Yeah p much.

Seconding Frowner, the whole "cool androgyne" trip that basically means lithe AFAB person who looks like a teenage boy and is able to participate in Fashion as we have it today is a huge bummer.

I like weird layered or structured tech-spec clothes for ++ to neutrality but substituting gendered markers for general weirdness doesn't seem 100% sustainable. Clothing is weird.
posted by beefetish at 1:26 PM on August 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

Here is a comment I wrote a while back about the difficulty of reflecting my genderweird identity with clothing as an occassionally femme person who was AFAB. For me, binding my chest and putting on a suit is decidedly transmasculine, not "neutral." The idea of seeing masculinity as standard/neutral is pretty problematic.

I want companies like Bindle + Keep to keep on keeping on, but there's no way they're gender-ambivalent in the same way a line like QIAM is.

I've also had good luck, surprisingly, with the line Actual Pain; the sweatshirts have the right length sleeves for my shorter arms and render me appropriately shapeless for dysphoria days, the tank tops accomodate larger hips easily* without being declared "mens" or "womens" at all, and the socks shrank to fit my mens-size-5 feet perfectly.

*I mostly aim for a scruffy tomboy skate rat/bike kid look and a lot of "men's" tanks are much too long and narrow for my shorter body and wider hips
posted by Juliet Banana at 1:28 PM on August 11, 2014 [11 favorites]

I mean, I think there's all kinds of stuff to parse out here:

1. Fad - we're having kind of a nineties moment, and it's the nineties moment of that Calvin Klein gender-neutral perfume and bowl haircuts, plus "androgyny" becomes fashionable every so often, and the fashion system needs novelty. The fashion system always claims that there has been some kind of permanent significant change underpinning whatever is currently fashionable.

2. Straight and cis people having greater access to information about non-cis and queer people - so a lot of this stuff is really constructed for the straight/cis gaze - like "oooh, cute thin young people who would have been in art class in high school!!!!" These folks aren't looking at, like, some kind of stout old queer woman in a suit, or someone whose gender expression just doesn't register as valid or interesting to them. They're outside looking in at people.

3. At least some greater safety and financial security for many visibly gender-non-conforming people. I was in the bathroom at work the other day - a large bathroom in a larger building - and this girl saw me in the mirror and did, I swear to god, this total spit-take. I mean, whatever she was expecting in the women's bathroom, it sure as fuck was not me. And I reflected that if it were twenty years ago, I could not hold the job I have, and it would be because I do not look or act like a cis straight woman. My clothing dollars go virtually exclusively to very plain, structured clothes that are not clearly gendered.

4. A really restrictive idea of what clothes ought to look like. In strict, technical terms, right, even the pinkest ruffliest dress is just a piece of cloth - if it belongs to a dude, it's a man's dress, right? So there's this way that "gender neutral" is being explained (largely for a cis/straight audience) in very reductionist binary terms. I understand that, a bit, because I think it does make some space - when you're dealing with people who sincerely believe that it's a great day in the morning when Land's End clearly demarcates its "feminine fit" polo shirts from its regular ones, maybe you have to start simple.

5. A really restrictive idea of identity and beauty. In this respect, I do like the menswear at the end of the piece - clothes that play with volume, looseness, fabric, texture and color in more interesting ways, whereas other "gender neutral" clothes just seem to be either "suits to connote sexy, sexy wealth power and authority" or "very tight clothes that don't have ruffles". I'd be very interested in clothes that hide and reveal the body differently from the usual stuff, because I think that's just as deep an attack on the gender binary as suits cut for curvy people or dresses for dudes.

But from the inside, I am actually pretty excited that people who have non-cis/non-binary/queer genders and sexualities do have at least some more options - even if all that means is that the very expensive styles eventually trickle down into the cheaper market. And less rigidity in terms of clothing/gender stuff means less risk - so eventually maybe I can give away the last of my "womanly" clothes that I'm keeping as a hedge against things changing at work.
posted by Frowner at 1:33 PM on August 11, 2014 [17 favorites]

This quote from Ann Pellegrino is my life, because straitjacket is the precise word that comes to my mind whenever I think of gender:
Many gender non-conforming people don't experience themselves as having been born into the wrong body. But– they might find themselves deeply uncomfortable with the kinds of straightjackets of gender. The ways in which, you know, you're supposed to sort of present, again, this very narrow notion of femininity if you have a female body, a very narrow notion of masculinity if you have a male body.
I get that I live in the world with a whole bunch of other people so I can't exactly make these kind of demands by fiat, but I do wake up every day wishing that "feminine" and "masculine" were no longer considered meaningful descriptive terms, and that we could just talk about attire, interests, and behavior using clearly objective traits rather than handwaving it all away in favor of words meaning nothing except whether we believe a man or a woman would be more likely to wear, do, or say whatever we're discussing. Failing to meet the arbitrary standards of "femininity" and "masculinity" results in a world of hurt for no discernible purpose.

In general, "feminine" is used as shorthand for "smaller, more decorative, more revealing, less comfortable." String bikinis and control top pantyhose are feminine. Rhinestones and lace are feminine. High-heeled shoes are feminine. Skirts and dresses that impede the wearer's natural gait are feminine. Jeans, a t-shirt, and Doc Martens are not. So I'm left wondering why it is that "gender-neutral" tends to be used as shorthand for "not stereotypically feminine." I've never seen a skirt, dress, hosiery, or any kind of colorful, non-stage cosmetic product specifically labeled "gender-neutral," but someone wearing a tailored suit, bow tie, and no makeup at all is readily given that label even though those are traits commonly considered to be masculine. A woman wearing "masculine" clothing is considered gender-neutral, a man wearing "feminine" clothing is not, and the devaluation of traits and attire stereotypically assigned to women is abundantly clear throughout.

I'm a short, petite person in a woman's body, so I'm seen/treated as an adequately feminine woman if I wear a colorful blouse, skirt, and nail polish, and seen/treated as a failed (= inadequately feminine) woman or a teenage boy if I wear a button-down flannel and blue jeans. Somewhere in a bundle of articles and discussions about "gender-neutral" clothing, I stumbled upon a comment that really stuck with me -- the gist was that it's very difficult for a woman to indicate that she is engaging in an effeminate gender performance rather than a feminine one. I've never read something that resonated so strongly with how I feel when I dress up 'like a woman.'

When I wear makeup or a dress, I feel less congruous with my assigned gender than I do at any other time (instances where I am in a room with a bunch of mothers aside) but because I have broad hips and visible breasts, no one but me ever sees it this way. Rather, I'm just seen as a "normal" woman who is performing gender in precise alignment with her secondary sex characteristics. But in very clumsy, broad strokes, wearing "feminine" things just makes me feel like a not-woman -- as opposed to a man, I guess, because I'm a woman so there's no way for me to know what "feeling like a man" could possibly entail. There is no way for me to visibly display this, I don't even know if it's possible, but I feel, internally, such a strong delineation between "effeminate" and "feminine" that I can barely put words to it.
posted by divined by radio at 1:37 PM on August 11, 2014 [28 favorites]

I have kind of a similar issue. If I wear "gender-neutral" clothing I don't look gender-neutral, I look like a cisgender guy and I feel like I'm misrepresenting myself and not really expressing myself. If I wear more feminine-ish stuff beyond just the slightest touch, I look like I'm somewhere on the effeminate-to-drag spectrum and that's not really representative of me either.

Everything I have ever seen about someone trying to sell "gender-neutral" clothing, it's basically borrowing every page from the menswear book and selling it to AFAB people.

Why can't we all just be plain black cubes? :P
posted by Foosnark at 2:17 PM on August 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

So.. guy's clothes.
posted by ReeMonster at 2:29 PM on August 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

Look, I just wanna be able to wear a nice tunic or dishdasha as a white dude with long hair in Texas without having to answer any questions about it.
posted by cmoj at 2:29 PM on August 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

This one comes up all the time in trans* presentation discussions. Not relevant to me personally, as I wear a US 8.5-9/EUR 41-42 wide. Many international makers manufacture shoes in size ranges smaller and larger than US standard. Shoes for Central America and Asia adults males run as small as US M4.5/EUR 32. Shoes for Northern European (Dutch, German) women are available past size W14/EUR48. Extended sizes might be less expensive to have made in North America than import individually, but do your own research. EBay's been good to me!

Masculine shoes in smaller sizes:
US Military Class A & B uniform oxfords ("low quarter shoes") come in sizes US4-16. They're available in plain black, black "patent leather" high-gloss, white, and brown (for USMC officers).
Canadian Military, RCMP and Postal Service dress oxfords come in sizes UK3-16. I've only seen black or brown cap-toe oxfords and lace-up or jodhpur-buckle style ankle boots.
Alden Shoes Can make classic men's styles down to US4 by special order. They may still make knee-high motorcycle police boots to order as well
Vogel's of NYC makes beautiful masculine biz shoes
Most Fluevog oxford and basic boot styles have both masculine and feminine sizing.
Dehner Boots Make any item in their catalog from US Women's size 2 to Men's 18
In the PNW, for both stock and very custom work/motorcycle boots and heavyweight shoes, we have Wesco (Scappoose, OR), White's (Spokane, WA), Nick's Boots, Viberg Boots (Victoria BC Canada) and Dayton Boots (Vancouver BC).
posted by Dreidl at 2:37 PM on August 11, 2014 [5 favorites]

They're not snazzy wingtips, but if anyone needs a classic pair androgynous sneakers, I really love PF Flyers, which come in a huge range of sizes from kids to adult.

There's always some on sale at 6pm; the men's section has the exact same shoes as the women's section plus a few more colors 6pm apparently thinks aren't girly enough, so I suggest searching the men's section for your appropriate size. Much more supportive than Converse, and good for casual bike riding.
posted by Juliet Banana at 2:51 PM on August 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

> come on, bring on the skirts for dudes and so forth.

No true Scotsman -- wait, never mind.
posted by jfuller at 4:22 PM on August 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Actual content: Here's some cool menswear that is being designed for people who aren't traditionally considered men.


I love me some menswear and I'm all in favour of women appropriating the conventions thereof. But the garments shown here carry a whole host of gender signifiers that buy into notions of dress which are essentially still very binary.

I was in Berlin a couple of weeks ago where there is a huge exhibition about David Bowie, including more or less every outfit and costume you can remember. I spent a long time looking at this suit designed by Freddie Burretti. It is a mouthwatering piece of tailoring, skilfully merging the conventions of menswear and womenswear in a way that reads neither masculine nor feminine, just flat-out fabulous. It's been more than forty years since that suit was made and we are still a long way away from any possibility of real gender neutrality in fashion. Women adopting masculine conventions is far from new (just ask Marlene Dietrich and Kate Hepburn) but imbuing menswear with that which is considered feminine still feels transgressive.

So when I look at these styles, I don't see "gender neutral", I see another trope which devalues the art of sensual display in clothing as something which is culturally feminine and therefore not deemed worthy of consideration by serious-minded people. I don't think this takes us beyond menswear. I think it reinforces a very conservative notion of an appropriate all-purpose gender neutral identity which is fundamentally male. In other words, the message here is that it's OK for women to dress as men, but still not acceptable for men to adopt feminine styles.

I've said it here many times and I'll say it again. More men in frocks, please.
posted by Elizabeth the Thirteenth at 4:24 PM on August 11, 2014 [11 favorites]

Agreed. Not only is calling a suit and tie on an AFAB person "gender neutral" weird and counterfactual--it's just traditional masculine dress--it's also sexist. It's saying that womenswear is gendered and menswear is not, which implies that masculinity is the universal standard and femininity the marked, decentered clothing of the "other." That's patriarchal BS.

I'm a trans guy and I'm 5'2" tall and not narrow of hip, so I'm in the camp that's happy and hopeful that a trend for expensive bespoke masculine suits for shorter and curvier bodies may trickle down, because finding men's clothing to fit is a challenge. Similarly, my spouse is a trans woman who is more than a foot taller than I and not narrow of shoulder, and it would be great if it were eaiser to find affordable women's clothing that fits her nicely. But as a man seeking men's clothes and a women' seeking women's clothing, we are emphatically not gender transgressing or being "gender neutral" in so doing.

Gender neutral fashion is something else entirely. We see a bit of it in the first link, in the image of "Craig Green’s autumn-winter 2014 collection"--but mostly we again see AFAB people in jackets and ties, which is hardly something new.
posted by DrMew at 4:52 PM on August 11, 2014 [6 favorites]

In a truly classless society everyone will wear pyjamas all the time.
posted by chrisgregory at 4:59 PM on August 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

Craig Green’s autumn-winter 2014 collection

Completely effacing. Destructive of the human form. Perfect for jacking into the Matrix.

Snark aside, I don't think you're wrong, DrMew; I just think that the best example presented in the article still falls way short. If by trying for gender-neutral a designer is erasing the image and outline of the body (not to mention the face), I think that's pretty much missing the point of the exercise.

It ought to be that the cut and drape a person likes in their clothing is available for their body shape regardless of their secondary (and let's be frank – primary) sex characteristics, and that those properties of the clothing should not be bound to particular ranges of colors, patterns, and ornamentation. In this respect, I think the suits actually do a better job to a degree, but over a very limited portion of the problem space.
posted by WCWedin at 5:22 PM on August 11, 2014

Look, I just wanna be able to wear a nice tunic or dishdasha as a white dude with long hair in Texas without having to answer any questions about it.

It's a classic look for warm climates; robes look graceful on a lot of body shapes and physiques.
posted by sebastienbailard at 6:25 PM on August 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

In a truly classless society everyone will wear pyjamas all the time.

A lot of people dress this way now. I see them at the grocery store, community meetings, and all kinds of places that I would have said were non-pyjama places but clearly I am outdated.

And scrubs. I'm sure they are sold as male/female, and mostly I don't see men in the floral print ones, but there is a gender-neutrality even so.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:20 PM on August 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I am a cis-gendered woman with with accompanying wide hips and boobs, narrow shoulders and love of tulle. And yet I would really love to dress like Thin White-era Duke David Bowie every now and then. Those suits are gorgeous, but even tailored to my body, I'm never going to look like Tilda Swinton and that's just a big old bummer that I have to accept.
posted by thivaia at 8:00 PM on August 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

I would have loved to see some curvier women in jackets, because right now, there is no women's jacket maker out there that can make me look right in a suit jacket (without LOTS of tailoring), but worse, I don't like the styling on most women's jackets. (too short! stupid little pockets! fussy little girly buttons! weird nautical accents for that Grandma on a Cruise look!) Which doesn't mean I just want an altered men's coat (the shoulders would be too big, and there would still be a lot of weirdness in the boob area). I want a coat that a. fits me and b. is neither HEY I'M DRESSED LIKE A DUDE or DON'T WORRY EVERYONE I'M DEFINITELY A LADY. A blazer or coat that is just something a human would wear, of any gender, if it fit them. Maybe in a nice chocolate brown suede. With interior pockets not on my boob-line, and nice deep exterior pockets.

I have seen many men look amazing in skirts (including my college crush, who also lived in a VW camper and wore raggedy sweaters and hiking boots with his skirts, and once called me "rad"), and long for the day they will do so in greater numbers.

I don't know that this article gives me confidence I will achieve that dream before I am, in fact, Grandma on a Cruise*-age, but then I had assumed that the real revolution in fashion won't happen until you can get computers to body-scan you and then have clothes insta-sewn for you by robot tailors from any template.

*If I willingly go on a cruise, senility has already set in
posted by emjaybee at 9:01 PM on August 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

In the early 2000s I used to work a lot in an environment where I was known to be female, and wearing a skirt made it all a lot easier. What I discovered was this lovely Scottish solution, the kilt suit.
I seriously considered a seersucker combo. It's not too hard to fit to a large-hipped or thighed body, if preserving a legible tartan isn't necessary.
posted by Dreidl at 10:37 PM on August 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm a big tall man with a big bushy beard who loves walking around in pretty summer dresses. I do this not to be "gender neutral" so much as "gender antagonist".
posted by mrjohnmuller at 11:13 PM on August 11, 2014 [10 favorites]

I am a super-female-bodied lady, in almost every sense of the word. Including hips that are 12 inches bigger than my waist, correspondingly large upper thighs, narrow ribs and shoulders and boobs bigger than my head. From the back I'm a pear, from the side I look like an Andy Capp girl.

But yesterday I went and bought a pair of men's trousers off the rack and they fit better than any women's pants or jeans. By better I mean they aren't trying to conform my body to a standard, emphasise anything. They're covering up my butt and giving me deep deep pockets.

I too am tired though, of this idea that masculine is neutral. Male is the default. That to be gender neutral is to have nothing feminine. That gender neutral clothing still is about not-feminine. I'm tired of that, even as I am pulling on men's pants because they fit and look better.
posted by geek anachronism at 2:31 AM on August 12, 2014 [4 favorites]

Juliet Banana: For me, binding my chest and putting on a suit is decidedly transmasculine, not "neutral." The idea of seeing masculinity as standard/neutral is pretty problematic.

Yes, this! I don't want to have to bind or otherwise change my body to be treated appropriately, at least by people with whom I've already talked about being genderqueer. I'm pretty curvy, though, and recently I've started wearing a sports bra on the regular, to (hopefully) make my chest less of a focal point than it tends to be otherwise. (It's also very comfy.) This summer I've been wearing shorts, t-shirts and sandals pretty much exclusively. Still, when I told some -- generally supportive but new to all this -- friends that I'd like them to use gender-neutral pronouns for me, the first thing they said was, "Well, you don't really look neutral."

I do have shoulder-length hair, and I do wear the odd earrings or nail polish. I also certainly understand people's general tendency to classify the others they meet by gender/presentation and that the way I dress is a communication to others. But I feel this leads to a calculation like this: (1) every 'male' accessory or garment should be balanced by a 'female' one, if one wants to attain a 'neutral' effect; (2) a curvy body like mine is a 'female' signifier so strong that it could only be balanced out by some head-to-toe menswear combination. If I wear clothes that would look neutral on a man, I come across as female. If I'm wearing earrings at the same time -- well!

I love the dapper look often worn by queer/genderqueer people on Tumblr, but I am also pretty lazy in the mornings and prone to panic about dressing myself. So here I am, wearing sandals, shorts, my brother's t-shirt and a pair of breasts.

Real gender-neutrality of fashion, something like this, would be awesome:

WCWedin: It ought to be that the cut and drape a person likes in their clothing is available for their body shape regardless of their secondary (and let's be frank – primary) sex characteristics, and that those properties of the clothing should not be bound to particular ranges of colors, patterns, and ornamentation.
posted by daisyk at 2:57 AM on August 12, 2014 [3 favorites]

xingcat I love my kilts they are great and of course all plaid (but not Scottish! Welsh and Irish), if they weren't plaid they wouldn't be kilts.
As for the Utilikilts, they aren't kilts either, they are skirts designed to target men, and that's fine but they aren't kilts. However they aren't all blood and beer, Check out their "Tuxedo" Utilikilt. Very much not a kilt, but a pretty cool looking skirt.
It would be nice to see more skirted options out there in mens clothing however, even if those options don't work for me. I always thought Michael Stipe pulled off some great skirt looks.
posted by MrBobaFett at 5:38 AM on August 12, 2014

from the side I look like an Andy Capp girl.

Flo is a little harsh on the eyes, maybe Lil' Abner? ( Daisy-Mae )
posted by mikelieman at 6:19 AM on August 12, 2014

I do this not to be "gender neutral" so much as "gender antagonist".

I always liked "gender traitor."
posted by emjaybee at 6:50 AM on August 12, 2014 [5 favorites]

"Rhinestones and lace are feminine."
Nudie suits--define as you will.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:19 AM on August 12, 2014

I think the elephant in the room with regard to 'masculine' vs. 'feminine' clothing is the relative perception of male vs. female sexuality, and specifically homosexuality, by society at large.

For reasons that aren't entirely clear to me and probably require the body politic to spend a lot of time on Dr Freud's couch to unpack, male homosexuality and by extension gender non-performance is threatening. Female homosexuality, and again by extension female gender non-performance, isn't, at least not to the same degree.

Therefore: someone who, naked, would pass as "female" (saying nothing about their actual gender identity or perception; this is purely an issue of perceptible sexual characteristics) wearing "masculine" clothes (e.g. suit, tuxedo) is seemingly acceptable; someone who naked would be classified as "male", wearing "feminine" clothes (high heels, tulle, skirts other than kilts) very quickly ends up somewhere on the drag-queen spectrum and has people pulling their kids across the street to stay away from them.

The female-body-masculine-clothes goes into a box that also contains Ellen; the masculine-body-feminine-clothes goes into a box that also contains Dr. Frank N. Furter.

I don't think that's something you can solve with tailoring or clothing design. The difference isn't in the clothing, it's entirely in the perception. I suspect also that you could probably find historical periods where this was inverted, and where a woman wearing masculine clothes would have been more socially problematic, due to the challenge it represents to the established order, than a man wearing feminine clothes (which might be read as comical or embarrassing, but not threatening).

It does seem like we are slowly working towards a wardrobe of truly gender-neutral clothing: as others have noted, hooded sweatshirts don't have a particular gender as an item, jeans and khakis are both pretty neutral where they haven't been actively re-segregated into male and female versions, but there are very few "feminine" items that have become gender-neutral, at least in the recent past.

The only examples of "womens'" fashion becoming masculinized that come immediately to mind are hats. Both the trilby and the fedora were originally womens' hats, which were popularly adopted by men. But there's some complications there as well, since in both cases I believe that the hats were popularized by men cross-dressing as women in stage plays.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:39 AM on August 12, 2014 [3 favorites]

I just mentioned this in a different thread, but I think this would look amazing over a pair of black skinny jeans or leggings, and flatter a lot of body types with all sorts of different characteristics.
posted by Juliet Banana at 7:39 AM on August 12, 2014

Huh there's a "men" section on the Bindle & Keep website (which is nice because their clothes look pretty swell) and in some of the pictures, the men are with women—who aren't wearing B&K clothes, just, like, regular dresses? What's up with that? I mean, this is a cool dress, but I feel like it would be better yet if he were dancing with someone also wearing a suit?
posted by kenko at 7:46 AM on August 12, 2014

it is the heteronormative thought prison kenko
posted by beefetish at 10:47 PM on August 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

What if it's your body, not your orientation, that doesn't "fit"?

I have unusually long arms, a big chest, broad shoulders and narrow hips; I gave up trying to get women's clothes that I can wear well long ago. The only items that fit me well are those cut for men although of course I'm stuck with knit tops--nothing tailored will accommodate my front. I also wear lots of men's shoes, simply because they are made more durably than women's. It's not that I want to be gender-neutral (though I kinda like the look), it's that I cannot wear the clothing that is designed for "average" bodies, and cannot afford a tailor.

I would love love love to see lines of clothing that offer simple classic styles in a really full range of sizes. Even simple v-neck t-shirts come in different colors for men than women--why does that have to be so? I know a lot of guys who look great in pastels, and women who look stunning in a muted pallete.
posted by kinnakeet at 12:17 AM on August 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

These designs by Florian Wowretzko seem germane to this discussion. I don't know anything about Wowretzko (just stumbled across a picture on Tumblr) but I like these outfits!
posted by daisyk at 6:48 AM on August 13, 2014

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