Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Man, woman, fashion

In case you are not familiar with The Man Repeller blog, do take a look. The hilarious author presents you with her (partly tongue-in-cheek) selections of outfits and fashions that make the opposite sex steer steadily away from her. Knowing how much Chris loves to see me in what are common "man repellants" such as denim overalls, nerdy glasses and clogs, I asked him to sit down with me last night to flip through fashion magazines. In short, I wanted to know what repels my man and what makes him tick, and how justifiable it is to claim, even half-jokingly, that straight men don't get fashion. I thought my husband would be an excellent pick for a guinea pig: so he is not your typical heterosexual male when it comes to fashion, but he has opinions, lots of them. We looked at catwalk pictures, street style photos and images of celebrities, pretty much whatever caused a reaction of some sorts. Here are the results:

To my surprise, this Prada look was an instant hit. Chris liked the skirt, even the fact that it is high-waisted, and heck, he even thought the monkey-print was cute. He thought that it would take a brave individual to wear this in public, that no one in our town would. But if you skipped the heels, the look would be a lot more wearable.

The two Celine looks above got low ratings. The sleeveless wrap-jacket in the top picture reminded Chris of martial arts. Overall, the whole outfit seemed "ill-fitting and plain". The blue blouse in the bottom picture was "ok", but the leather skirt "horrible".

The "ladylike luxe" as portrayed here by Harper's Bazaar was a hit. Chris took an instant liking to the yellow Michael Kors look on the right. The Proenza Schouler look on the left pleased him as well. And speaking of Michael Kors, the yellow maxi dress (a common man repellant) below was one of Chris's favourites of all the images we saw.

Kate Bosworth wearing this Proenza Schouler dress below looked "great". Chris thought the teaming of black accessories with the vibrant-looking dress was an excellent touch.

Another well-dressed celebrity was Diane Sawyer. Her outfit below looked like something many women of different ages, shapes and sizes could wear.

The harshest reaction was reserved for anything Lanvin.

Every single Lanvin dress we saw was "hideous" or "something an 80-year-old would wear in Florida". There was too much pleating, too much layering, the dresses (not just these three above, even short ones) were "cut horribly" and looked "ill-fitting and unflattering". The studded Burberry trench below was also "just horrible".

Some unexpected favourites included this Christopher Kane outfit.

Chris thought it looked "very attractive" because of the wallpaper-like pattern and the vintage-y look. It also got high points because women of different sizes and ages could wear this and look sophisticated. The only negative aspect arose once I told Chris that the outfit was made of leather: "Ugh, I just don't like leather clothes". The Fendi platforms were Chris's favourite shoes of what we saw.

The Marc Jacobs ad campaign got positive attention, too. Chris thought the clothes here were "bold and striking", although a little "costume-y". He thought someone in their twenties could wear it for real.

Overall, Chris seems to be a lot more open-minded about fashion than I am. I'd dismiss a look I didn't like in an instant, whereas Chris paid close attention to detail, cut and texture, and considered issues like comfort and wearability, age and size. There were only a handful of pictures whose potential he didn't consider: almost everything was at least worth a pause and a moment of weighing in what was presented. Alongside the above-mentioned Lanvin, anything by Jil Sander was met with instant disbelief: the clothes were unflattering and made even tall, slim models look odd and disproportionate.

Chris seemed very sensitive to the fact that in fashion magazines clothes are portrayed on young, very slim women. He thought that Marie Claire's "What I love about me"-section was refreshing: "it's nice to see what women actually wear".

I guess the purpose of this experiment was to be able to say what I already thought before: that sex isn't necessarily the defining factor when it comes to issues of personal taste. What is commonly considered man-repelling can also be woman-repelling: I hate Marc Jacobs's spring collection with a vengeance, and Chris happened to like several aspects of it. I thought the neon-green Christopher Kane ensemble was mumsy and the colour way too difficult, whereas Chris thought it was stylish, vibrant and interesting. Many things in current fashion repel me more than my husband. I still appreciate designers presenting and actual people wearing bold, unusual looks: it is refreshing to see people push the boundaries of what can be worn and how, regardless of what I might find appealing personally.

Are your significant others, boyfriends, husbands, partners or male friends interested in fashion, and do they comment on your fashion choices? Do you think there are such things as "man repellants"?


Karenina said...

Oh yes, since my fiancee and I got together he has been taking more and more of an interest in fashion (for both men and women); he often looks through fashion magazines and catalogues, and is quite vocal about what he likes. Overall, I would say we're both pretty "J.Crew" in our aesthetic, though I have some high-end "trend" tendencies. He likes men's watches on women, skinny jeans, nicely constructed blazers and, of course, like any red-blooded male, soft knits (men like a soft partner to cuddle...hence the aversion to studs). He also enjoys a good belt, a well-worn fedora and tasteful high heels.

As for his hates, perhaps I have accidentally "trained" him, but they seem to echo my own dislikes; anything too pink, anything neon and anything cheap/synthetic looking (hello crocs, I'm talking about you. Throw Uggs in there too).

That being said, there are some things I don't mind (drop-crotch pants, thigh-balooning cargos) that he finds hideous. Man-repelling indeed (and yes, I love that blog too)! He seems to intensely dislike leggings, plaid shirts, high-wasted paper-bag skirts, maxi-dresses, ripped jeans, military boots and heavy, studded jewelry (some of my favourite man-repelling gear), but knows better than to whine when I wear it because he knows I dress for myself (especially on the weekend!)and not to make other people happy.

Overall I would say my guy is very supportive of my interest in fashion and is quickly developing his own personal taste, which I love (It's so nice to have a man who aspires to look nice every day!) But like every (hu)man, he seems to have his limits!

ps; he thinks the Man Repeller is hilarious and is highly fascinated by her.

JRose said...

Ha, the idea of talking fashion with my brothers or father is kind of hilarious. Perhaps when I get a significant other...
Fascinating post though. Thanks for sharing Chris' insights and opinions.

Anonymous said...

Oh, a tough question to answer, Waves. Come to think of it now, I never discuss my clothing choices with my husband, then again, he's never ever questioned them. Sometimes it seems that all the things I wear are immaterial to him, because, well, there's still me inside.
But he is sometimes rather shocked by other people's (mostly women's) fashion choices- and when he's shocked, it is usually in negative way. For instance, he can't bear the sight of a woman (even if it's a teenage girl) in leggins and a short blouse. He never comments on his male friends' style - mostly because all they wear are suits.
Don't know where his disinterest in all things fashion-related comes from. Maybe I can account it to the fact that he's significantly older than me (16 years) and therefore was brought up in a world a) of communist poverty, b) that was not that fashion-crazy as it is today? Don't know. But, steering slightly off the subject, I've noticed recently that the style/fashion questions are posed in places where they should never appear. I read an article about a young female inventor and the first paragraph was devoted totally to her personal style. Is it really important how she dresses up? I sometimes think that my husband is right about this one and fashion deserves a mention only when it becomes extremely appalling or appealing.
Lots of love to you and your husband,

Nick Raymon said...

I feel like I’m constantly looking for interesting things to read about a variety of subjects, but I manage to include your blog among my reads every day because you have honest entries that I look forward to. Here’s hoping there’s a lot more great material coming!
And i like ur title the most

MAN WOMEN and FASHION... its nice..
Korean Fashion Clothing

Anonymous said...

It was great fun, hon, lookin through the photos with you! I find the fashion world fascinating...watching 'Project Runway' with Waves is a highlight of any television season (we both thought Mondo should have won this last season). I can honestly say, too, that it would be impossible for Waves to ever repel me...she has quite the opposite affect on me. :) CR

Myrna said...

I wonder if it's not so much the clothes as how we feel in them that makes the outfit man repellent.

My husband rarely comments on clothing and especially not on mine unless asked. It's not of interest to him at all. Now take it all of and...

tigerteacher said...

I regularly ask my husband's opinion when I'm uncertain in the morning or trying to choose between two things. I think he, and I would bet lots of other guys, prefer something feminine and form-fitting...though that's not 100% across the board for him either. I love hearing his opinions and (sometimes funny) reasons for them too!

K.Bean said...

My husband is good at giving me an honest opinion about what I'm wearing, if I ask. I really want to try this fashion magazine co-read with him!

eyeliah said...

I really liked hearing his opinions, such a different perspective. Perhaps a part II sometime in the future :)