Menswear is booming, and now even the coolest girls are sporting it. Here’s why one writer has ditched the dresses
As a child, from about the age of six, my daily uniform consisted of an oversized boy’s sweatshirt, tights and stompy boots. Who would have known that 20 years later, my penchant for menswear would be bang on trend. I’ve filled my wardrobe with boys’ clothes over the years: jackets by the British menswear designer Craig Green now outnumber my few dresses, and I live in a pair of vintage Hedi Slimane-era Dior Homme trousers. Suddenly, I am not alone, with more and more girls borrowing from the boys when it comes to clothes. FKA Twigs and Rihanna are also fans of Craig Green, while Kylie Jenner often dips into Shayne Oliver’s Hood by Air, and her big sister Kendall shops from Givenchy’s men’s line. As Paris men’s fashion week comes to a close today, it’s the girls, not the boys, who will be making mental shopping lists.
It’s not just about emerging brands and street style, either: big players such as Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Vivienne Westwood and Burberry now show mens- and womenswear on the same catwalk. The latter cited Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, a gender-bending classic, as the inspiration for its first joint show.
It helps that some of the most exciting designers at the moment work in menswear; homegrown talents such as Charles Jeffrey, Green and Grace Wales Bonner are now among some of the most talked-about labels in fashion. Look further afield and you will see that many of today’s blockbuster designers began in menswear: Raf Simons, who was at Dior before being appointed creative director of Calvin Klein last August, started out as a menswear designer with his own label, and Hedi Slimane, the controversial former creative director of Saint Laurent, got his break putting boys in skinny jeans at Dior Homme.
Buyers have taken note. Matchesfashion.com has responded to the trend by getting Wales Bonner to tweak her menswear collection slightly and is now stocking it in its womenswear section. After all, what woman wouldn’t want a gem-embellished velvet jacket? They are wasted on the boys. It also had to stock up on the smallest sizes of the Craig Green collection to cater to all the women wandering into the menswear department.
So, how do you get in on the act? Well, typical androgyny this isn’t. Peruse the men’s section and you may come out with something more spangly than you would have expected. A fluffy Gosha Rubchinskiy jacket, some leather-look Raf Simons flares, a Christopher Shannon sweatshirt with a bold “Lovers Direct” slogan — coloured fuzz, embellishment and frills are now standard on the menswear catwalks.
The stuff to buy is not hard to find in stores: start with the good graphics. Menswear departments host a range of epic logos, so stock up on Palace and Supreme. You can’t go wrong with a gigantic hoodie — very on trend, and also good for when you are hungover. Thanks to the buzz around Vetements, it’s the label to have. The best pieces come with a twist: a vaguely offensive slogan, super-long sleeves, an extra head hole — you name it, Demna Gvasalia’s done it. If you have fallen behind on the Annie Hall look, get your basics — oversized jeans, baggy cashmere jumper — from Cos and Uniqlo. The boyfriend aesthetic is now so pervasive that you can even stock up with some good trousers and a slouchy cardigan at Marks & Spencer.
The thinking behind all this was summed up by Evan Rachel Wood at the recent Golden Globes, arguably the most important sartorial event of the year. She chose to forgo a tulle meringue or semi-sheer column in favour of a tailored black suit, custom-made by Altuzarra. A womenswear designer, yes, but a red-carpet choice that encapsulated the spirit of this shift. “I’ve worn a dress every single time, and I love dresses,” Wood said. “I’m not trying to protest dresses, but I wanted to make sure young girls and women know they aren’t a requirement.” That’s the ultimate benefit of the girls-in-menswear trend — options.