Sunday, September 18, 2011

Spookshow Style: Grommet Skirt

Spookshow Style posts will be all about my outfits. I thought it might be fun to talk a bit about the style choices I make and the thought behind them.

Top: Fringe Top by Anna Scholz
Skirt: Hand made by Mrs. Spookshow
Tights: Levante eXtra in Londra
Shoes: Wedge Bootie by Madden Girl

This outfit captures the essence of my personal style perfectly. It has just the right amount of edginess and attitude for me. I've always loved gothic fashion, although I don't take that quite as far as I used to. I've tried to keep that influence, however, and I feel that attitude still comes through in this outfit.

This look just sort of came together in a perfect maelstrom, but it all started with the skirt. 

When I saw the pattern for this skirt I was immediately inspired. I really liked the blue swirl pattern of this fabric, and thought it would go perfect with the grommet trim design. The lovely Mrs. Spookshow put all of these elements together for me and created this skirt.

When I first tried this skirt on, I quickly realized that none of the tops I currently owned would really work with it. Up to this point, all of my tops were still from the men's department, largely either black t-shirts or black button downs. Enter the fringe top.

Around the same time as I found the pattern for the skirt, a new fashion catalog arrived in the mail from Simply Be. This is where that maelstrom effect that I mentioned earlier started. We had never heard of this store before, but immediately loved most of the items in their catalog. We both headed straight for the sale section of their website, which is where I found this top. I was immediately drawn to both the cut and the fringe. I knew the fringe would look great with the blue skirt fabric. Earlier in the year I had taken to modifying my plain t-shirts with scissors, altering the neck and often the sleeves. I really like the edginess it can add to a boring old shirt design, although my wife isn't a big fan of the look. I've been shocked at how much of a temperature difference it can make in the heat, however. Anyways, the cold shoulder design of this top reminded me of that, and it's a style that I've loved since.

I hadn't dabbled in tops from the women's department mostly because of concerns over fit, particularly in the bust region. It can be very difficult as a man to tread here, as a lot of women's tops are designed to emphasize or enhance a shape that I do not possess. I've also found that sleeve size can be a problem, but it wasn't with this top. Off the rack this top was quite a bit too baggy in the bust area on me (not too shocking), but that was easily fixed by my wife by just shortening the shoulder straps a bit. Just like that, it fit pretty great. I actually really love the elastic waist bit at the bottom of this top, as I actually feel it helps to hide my primary problem area, my tummy, and makes me look a bit more slim than I actually am. Another thing I've come to love about this top (and most tops from the women's department as well) is the fabric it's made from. With men's tops, I've pretty much just been wearing cotton my entire life. This material is much softer and has more stretch, which actually feels really nice. Just a small perk of crossing the aisle, I guess.

 Last up are the tights and shoes. 

Whenever people comment on or ask about my style in public, it's usually regarding the tights. In fact, I think I should make a separate post just about tights, so look for that in the future. I went with black sheer tights here, and I think they work well with the outfit. I actually get quite a few compliments on my legs (thanks!), and honestly I think the tights are a large part of that.

These shoes .... oh, these shoes. Okay, so, I should admit that I have a bit of a shoe addiction, but that's also probably a whole separate post in itself. A quick look at my shoe collection will illuminate one fact: I love ankle boots! Another thing I love? Wedge heels! I had been looking for a pair of wedge ankle booties for a long time. I've found it can be a bit difficult to find stylish shoes in my size (13 or 12w), so when I saw these I knew I had to snatch them up quickly. This was, of course, right around the same time as the rest of this outfit was coming together. These shoes are a lot of fun, and I think they help enhance the attitude of this outfit. 

That's about all I think I can say on this outfit, as this post has already run a bit longer than I anticipated. My hope is that these Spookshow Style posts will help shed some light on why I wear the things I do. I put a lot of effort into all of my looks to try to look the best I can. 

If you'd like to see more of my styles and comment on them, please visit my Flickr photostream here:

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Boys in Dresses: A Primer

The title of this is a bit misleading, as I'm mostly going to talk about guys in skirts. However, I like the sound of "Boys in Dresses" better, so go with it.

One of the interesting things about being a guy in a skirt is that there are nearly as many opinions about how to wear skirts as there are men wearing them. For classification purposes, I like to think of it as a spectrum. On one end of the spectrum we have the "Bravehearts", men who only wear kilts. On the complete opposite end of that spectrum, we have the androgynous boys, who prefer to blur the lines between gender. These two ends are very different, and to be honest I often see them clash in the internet community. Let's break it down, shall we?

So we will start with the aforementioned Bravehearts, men that tend to stick exclusively with the kilt and its various accessories. I'm aware that the kilt is a traditionally masculine garment, so if anything this is right at the edge of the spectrum, but only because I oft see people call a kilt a skirt regardless of historical or cultural connotations. Personally, I do view kilts as a type of skirt, albiet an accepted men's skirt. My wife tells me that a kilt is only a kilt if you don't wear anything under it, otherwise it's a skirt. As a result of this, I apparently don't own any kilts. Anyhow, the Bravehearts keep it strictly masculine, and don't delve into any women's fashions.

Next on the spectrum are men who do venture a bit further down the skirted path, and begin to incorporate skirts designed and marketed to women. To be fair, this group takes up a large part of the spectrum. Closest to the Bravehearts are the men who will wear skirts from the women's department, but only if they are "masculine" enough. From what I've seen, this mostly seems to involve denim skirts or muted colors in a-line cuts. These guys usually keep the rest of their wardrobe strictly masculine. There are some varying philosophies on this, and I'd like to take a moment to digress a bit and discuss them now.

From what I've gathered from reading posts from men who do this, the guiding philosophy behind this style of dress seems to be baby steps, for lack of a better term. The idea is that the social stigma against men in skirts will only change over time by careful and deliberate small changes. Once a man in only a skirt is accepted, then we can work on other garments or more feminine styles, but for now we need to keep a low profile and not push the envelope too far. I don't agree with this view at all, and I'll explain why later in this post.

There is also a rule that I see floating about called the "One Item Rule." Essentially, the idea is that you only incorporate one item of feminine clothing into your wardrobe at a time. The idea here is quite similar to the one above, to not impose too much "deviancy" (for lack of a better word) upon the viewer at once. So if you are going to wear tights, you had better wear some men's shorts and tennis shoes with them! Sorry, but my thoughts on this? Boring!

Back on topic, sliding a bit further down the spectrum you start to see men incorporate more than one garment at a time into their wardrobe. He might wear a skirt with tights, but still keep the rest of the outfit very masculine. I've seen this look work great, though I think it can be a bit difficult to find that perfect balance. While it isn't really my style, I do respect the few men I've seen pull this off.

As we approach androgyny we must first come into the area I fall into, men who ignore the gender label on clothing. This man will wear skirts, dresses, tights, heels, whatever, but will still keep his appearance male. He believes that clothing has no inherit gender, and that it's silly to put such restrictions on fabric. Speaking personally, to me it's about men having a full range of expression and experiences.

Lastly, we come into the androgynous look. This boy blurs the line between male and female. I often see supporters of androgynous fashion write about a world where gender doesn't really matter, where someone isn't strictly viewed as a boy or girl so much as just a person. In that world, gender doesn't put any limits or expectations on you. While I don't go for an andro look personally, that's something I can really get behind anyways.

I said earlier that I would post my thoughts on why I push as far as I do in this post, but I feel it's already gotten too long. If you've made it this far, thank you. My opinions on why I do what I do will have to be another post, so stay tuned for that!

So that's a broad view of the spectrum as I see it. If you feel I've missed something, I apologize and please feel free to tell me about it in the comments section. In any case I would love to read your thoughts on this topic. Where are you in this spectrum, or where (if at all) do you feel it's gone too far for you?