Thursday, January 27, 2011

Post #9: Manning Up

            There’s an old saying that says you always want what you can’t have. Whether it be straight-instead-of-curly hair, height, a different eye color, etc., we are constantly seeking change. Going along this theme, one particular trend that we can’t seem to shake (almost year after year), is that of androgyny; so let’s play dress up in our fathers’ clothing, instead of our mothers’ pearls, and see if we make any best dressed lists.
            Throughout most of history, it was taboo for women to wear pants. Society much preferred us in corsets, hoop skirts, bustles, petticoats, and all things old-fashioned. In fact, it even used to be the case that showing an ankle to a male suitor was scandalous. Riding breeches came into fashion for a time, but were heavily disapproved of, and in Hollywood it was an anomaly to see anything but a woman in a skirt. Our first real glimpse into cinematic plays at gender roles was the iconic Marlene Dietrich in Morocco (1930). And if you haven’t seen the iconic picture of Dietrich smoking a cigarette, wearing a tux and tophat, then please look here:

That along with the fact that women wore pants to work in factories during World War I, gave us our first taste of women playing with men’s attire. And like some fairly addictive drug, we’ve been slowly getting more and more hooked throughout history.
            Continuing in this little lesson on old Hollywood fashion, next came Katharine Hepburn, who threw convention out the window. Along with having quite the bold attitude, Hepburn made it known that she liked wearing pants. In fact, most iconic photographs of the actress are of her in slacks or pantsuits. And while her outspoken personality and fashion sense seemed to put her on a more equal footing with her male coworkers, Hepburn never lost a certain sense of feisty femininity that makes us love to wear pants today.
            Then, in 1966, Yves Saint Laurent decided to embrace androgyny with its “Le Smoking” tuxedo for women. 

Not only was the male silhouette chic, but also the whole aura of erasing gender lines. The slicked back hair…the posture…somehow holds this indescribable sexiness and power.
            So now, embracing the new 2011 year, male fashion for women is back. I’m not telling you to wear a suit on the red carpet (although celebrities like Leighton Meester and Sandra Bullock have embraced their power strut in suits and heels), but I am telling you to take a few cues from dad and grandpa and man up. 

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