Dude Looks like a Lady: When Women Dress like Men

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Masculine fashion for women is emerging as one of the key trends for Autumn / Winter 2011. Smart blazers and shirts are becoming ever more popular and styles merge with ‘Geek Chic’ to create an androgynous look.

Women have dressed like men ever since bras were burnt and denim became the norm. Trousers were worn by women to complete industrial work in the late 19th Century, and by the Second World War they were the answer for all working women. As the years passed, trousers became more popular; in the sixties, jeans and flares were on the rise and by the eighties they flourished in popularity due to the power suit. Look around you now, and I would bet most of my student loan on the majority of women wearing jeans or trousers of some description. But whilst women dressing in a similar way to men is pretty normal, is this new trend taking it too far?

Masculine fashion items for women are cropping up in all student-friendly stores and online shops. Topshop boasts a wide selection of shirts that wouldn’t look out of place in Topman, alongside a growing stash of cigarette trousers and smart shorts. Dorothy Perkins hosts a wide range of gender ambiguous blazers (though slightly fitted to complement the figure) and Oasis offers the argyle ‘boyfriend’ jumper. It’s true that you don’t have to go all out and dress like a man (simply pair a shirt with a skirt, for example) but this new trend focuses on a complete change of gender when it comes to your wardrobe.

Andre Pejic is causing headlines with his ultre-femenine (and very deceiving) looks

On the catwalk, designers are merging genders as if they were experimental scientists. Not only are men becoming women (such as the apparently male model Andrej Pejic) but the women look even more like men. Paul Smith’s Winter collection focuses on men’s tailoring for women, with many of the models wearing trousers and jackets that would look just as ‘at home’ on the menswear rail. Other designers have done the same, including Chanel.

But is this fashion for everybody?Would you really turn up to a seminar in smart trousers, a shirt and a blazer, your over-sized glasses perched on your nose and your tie half undone? A quick Facebook survey amongst my uni friends later, and it appears that most girls had no idea that this was going to be a trend. Fair enough – but the second most popular response was that of disgust. Apparently the masculine look is only acceptable in small doses, or rather as part of the outfit, for most female students. When the male students were asked, most said they preferred a more feminine look on their ladies, with one or two suggesting that combats were a better idea. It seems that the masculine look needs a little work if it is to win over the hearts of Southampton University students. Perhaps it needs to stay at the back of the wardrobe for a little while longer.

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