Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thoughts on Freestyle Fashion II

One of the most common statements that I hear in support of men's freestyle fashion is that women can and do cross the gender divide in fashion quite freely, and men should be allowed to do the same. While freestyle fashion isn't an issue of gender equality for me (more on that later), I do feel this is a valid point. A girl in a t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers could just be a bit of a tomboy, although I don't think most people would even bother to think that in this day and age because it is so common. Meanwhile, a guy in a dress, tights, and heels is clearly either mad or perverted. While I feel this is a great disservice to men, it's probably an even greater disservice to women, and here's why.

While women have made great strides in earning equal rights in life, there is still an underlying prejudice. Without delving too deeply into feminist theory, the reason I see for the aforementioned social disparity is that masculinity is still viewed as being more powerful than femininity. It is socially accepted, and even encouraged, for the weaker to mimic the strong. A business woman in a pantsuit is going places, she's confident and able. When a man puts on a skirt, however, he's opened up to all manner of name calling and assumptions about his sexual preference.

It's so strange to me how simple garments have come to represent such notions, but I see examples of it all the time. My wife and I have recently started watching the short-lived television series No Ordinary Family, and there is a perfect example of this in the show. The show centers around a family who gain super powers and how they deal with it. One of the characters, the mother in this family, is a leading scientist at a large research corporation. She seems to be pretty high up in the corporate hierarchy, enough so that she has an assistant. What I find striking in the show is that the lead scientist is always wearing pants at work, while the assistant is always in skirts and dresses. Now, you could say this is just coincidence, or maybe just characterization, but I see this sort of styling in shows all the time. I'm not even convinced that it's a conscious wardrobe decision, I just think it's one of those things that is deeply ingrained in the subconscious. The boss wears the pants, the secretary wears a skirt. I've even seen articles online suggesting that women may not want to wear pants to a job interview, for worry that it makes them look too assertive.

Getting back to the primary topic, I do think it's unfortunate that there is such a bias when it comes to acceptable fashion choices between the genders. I think it's sad that men are often looked down upon for expressing themselves outside of the expected machismo and toughness. Is it unfair? Absolutely. However, remember that at the beginning of this post I said that freestyle fashion is not about fairness with me, and it isn't. I don't see myself as a champion of gender equality. I don't really see myself as wearing what I wear for a cause. I'm just being myself.

I can't really say if the gender bias in fashion will ever be broken, though to be honest I'm not certain I care. I wear the clothes that I wear because I like them. I like the way I look in them and I like the way they make me feel. I've never cared what other people think of me, and I'll never let it stop me from being myself. I read an article earlier this year about the top ten most common things that people regret about their lives on their deathbed. The number one regret people had was not having the courage to truly be themselves. So, whenever someone gives me a dirty look or says something hateful towards me for dressing the way I do, I think back on that article. If I ever have a moment of self doubt or hesitation, I remember the article.

No regrets.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Thoughts on Freestyle Fashion I

I want to share some of my thoughts on men's freestyle fashion. To me, a fashion freestyler is anyone who wears what they want to regardless of preconceived societal opinions. In the context of men's fashion, for me this mostly relates to men wearing dresses, skirts, tights, and high heels, all garments that are currently considered strictly women's clothing. A freestyler is not a crossdresser, at least not in the most prevalent sense of the term, as he does not try to pass as a woman. That's not to say that a freestyler cannot appear more androgynous, or even traditionally feminine, but merely that a freestyler does not go to the same lengths as many crossdressers in terms of manipulating their gender appearance. I feel it's important to point out, though, that these ideas and the freestyle fashion term are not meant to be limiting or quantifying, and are not meant to exclude anyone. At the end of the day, it's really just about wearing whatever clothing you prefer, regardless of preconceived gender stereotypes.

I think that freestyle fashion is a subculture, and will never be a mainstream thing. I don’t really see the average man ever delving too deeply into the freestyle fashion world. While one day skirts (not just kilts) may well be a staple part of menswear fashion, I don’t believe we will see a dramatic shift towards other “feminine” style garments by the general populace … but that’s okay! It may not become a mainstream thing, but I don’t think it’s unrealistic to think that one day freestyle fashion may be an accepted subculture, much like goth, punk, and other alternative fashions are. In fact, I feel that freestyle fashion is already a largely accepted concept within the gothic fashion community. Still though, I don’t expect some fashion revolution to happen, but I do think we can gain tolerance for our fashion freedom. We just have to get out there and take it!

I want to provide inspiration for other guys to not be afraid to wear the clothes they want to openly in their lives. There are many men with pictures on the internet of themselves in fantastic looking outfits, only to have their head cropped out or otherwise obscured, and I think that’s a shame. Sure it’s true that many, maybe even most people don’t like the idea of men wearing clothing that’s been deemed for women only, but the only way that we can challenge and change that gender bias is to just do it. Everyone's situation is unique, and for some anonymity is absolutely essential. I'm fortunate enough to be in a situation where I am free to openly express who I am, and so part of this blog is an attempt to "pay it forward" and try to push at the boundaries and make these unique fashion choices more accepted for men all over the world.


Welcome to His Black Dress, a freestyle fashion blog by Michael Spookshow.

I thought it best to start things off with a bit of an introduction, both of myself and the intent of this blog.

So how about a little about the writer first? Put simply, I’m just a spooky boy in my mid-twenties living in sunny Florida. I’m happily married to a wonderful & beautiful woman who I will refer to as Mrs. Spookshow in this blog. I’m a proud geek with a love for tabletop wargaming. I’ve always had a love for gothic and alternative fashion. Growing up, my parents always told me that the most important thing in life was to have the courage to always be myself, to forge my own path, and that is something I have always tried to do … I just happen to do it in heels.

The purpose of this blog is to promote men’s freestyle fashion. This means men wearing skirts, dresses, heels, & other items currently viewed as acceptable everyday fashions for women only. This is not about crossdressing, any more than the modern woman crossdresses when she wears jeans & a t-shirt. It’s about style without arbitrary boundaries based on gender alone, and about men having freedom of expression in fashion.

My hope is that this blog will show other men with an interest in freestyle fashion that it’s okay to be yourself and express yourself through style. It’s okay to be a little different. This blog is not just for men, however, as the support & knowledge of women is important in this movement as well. My hope is that one day a man in a dress will be no more taboo than a woman wearing jeans & a t-shirt.

Of course, the introduction to His Black Dress just wouldn’t be complete without a picture of the author in his black dress …

Revenge of the Moto Dress!

To see more of my looks, or to comment on specific looks, please visit my Flickr photostream here: