Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Are You Wearing Pantyhose?

As a makeup artist, October is always a busy month for me, and this one has been no exception. One thing that has made this October different, however, is freestyle fashion.

I decided to embrace freestyle fashion and evolve my style in March. The decision came on the heels of deciding to try to get more into shape and get my weight under control, something I have struggled with all of my life. I lost a good amount of weight over the year, and with that has come an increased feeling of confidence in myself, so it seemed like the perfect time to venture into a new style. Over the months I've gotten very accustomed to wearing skirts and dresses as everyday attire.

My year round work is home-based, however in October I take up a seasonal position doing makeup for a local haunt. As such, I've had to spent the majority of this month in shorts & capris (with one dreadful night in jeans - I simply don't find them comfortable at all anymore!). This led me to a bit of a shocking revelation, I no longer feel right wearing shorts! I found myself longing for my days off if only to be allowed the freedom of wearing a skirt, or even better, a dress. 

While I did not wear skirts or dresses to work, I did wear sheer tights most days along with a comfortable pair of mary janes. These items have become so mundane and commonplace to me now that I underestimated the reaction I would receive wearing them openly around so many people. So I thought it might be interesting to share some of the reactions & comments I received over the month.

  • Overall, people that made comments (good & bad) seemed to focus more on the tights than the shoes. I feel I should mention that most of the time I wore either navy or black sheer tights (as our dress code was to wear all black / dark colors), so the tights were probably a bigger shock to the eye than the shoes. 
  • The most common question was: "Are you wearing stockings / nylons / pantyhose?" I always find this question odd because as I said above I was usually wearing black, which is in no way stealth. However, that question was usually just a lead in to the second most common question: "Why are you wearing stockings / nylons / pantyhose?" My response of choice: "Why not?" This usually ended the conversation, even though that was never my intention. Perhaps I should have responded by saying that I just find them comfortable and like the way they look, but truth be told I was usually caught a bit off guard with the question just because it's become such a non-issue to me.
  • Several girls commented that they thought it would be difficult for a man to use the restroom in pantyhose. Personally, I thought it a bit odd that their minds went there, but whatever. In case you are wondering, it isn't.
  • When the weather was a bit warmer, quite a few girls would point at my legs and ask, "Aren't those hot?" I don't usually have issues with sheer tights in the heat (except on the most dreadful summer days here in Florida), but I also wear higher quality, 10-15 denier sheer to waist tights rather than run of the mill drugstore control tops.
  • I received a few compliments from girls (which was great!), but I was shocked by the amount of positive feedback I heard from guys. I'm not talking about a "That's hot!" kind of way (as that would make me a bit uncomfortable, honestly), but rather in a "You're wearing tights? Cool!" way. 
  • It wasn't all good, however, as there were a few people who either scowled at me, made a weird face at me, or outright burst into laughter at me. This seemed to usually be over the mary janes. I'm pretty thick-skinned but I'd be lying if I said it didn't bother me a little. Oh well. 
  • A co-worker of mine informed me that some of the women were talking negatively about my tights & shoes behind my back, and have avoided my makeup chair because of it. People are entitled to their opinions (it falls under my "haters gonna hate" category), but I have to admit that I do find it a little disappointing. Despite the freestyle fashion, I really am pretty much just your average guy, albeit your average nerd guy. It disappoints me that some people can't see past their own preconceived prejudices. 
  • Thus far, I've had two women (besides my wife) tell me that my tights are sexy. I love to be complimented, so that was great.
  • The most interesting comment from a girl that I got: "Yay, I'm glad you are wearing tights today! It's really weird when you don't. I like it." I thought this comment was interesting because I've actually reached a point now where I've worn them so often that I do feel weird when I don't. The fact that she found a man in tights to be normal enough for it to be weird when he wasn't wearing tights was pretty awesome too. 
Overall, October has been an interesting month for me with regards to freestyle fashion. Spending a whole month basically trapped in shorts & pants has definitely made me appreciate the feeling of wearing skirts and dresses even more. Being around so many people in the social environment of work was also interesting as a bit of a social experiment in freestyle fashion as well. I think the most important thing to take away from all of it, though, is that I was able to go out and be myself without any real issues. At the end of the day, it's really all about confidence, and if what they say is true and the clothes do make the man, then I say that real men wear pantyhose!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Spookshow Style: Pleat Tier Skirt Remix

This outfit is a bit of a wardrobe remix, with a new jacket thrown in.

Jacket: Sheer stripe moto jacket from Ashely Stewart
Top: Fringe top by Anna Scholz
Skirt: Pleat tier skirt from Roaman's
Tights: Charnos opaque 60 denier thick tights in petrol
Shoes: Meg ankle boot by Gwyneth Shoes

I really wanted to get a better shot of this skirt, as it's one of my favorites. When I decided to fully commit to freestyle fashion, this was one of the first skirts I bought. I remember that it really caught my eye, and I was really eager to try it on. This skirt was a real defining moment for my style, as I just felt this surge run through me from the first moment I put it on. There was definitely a little extra swagger in my step, and for one of the first time's in my life I felt hot. This skirt helped me realize that I need to remember my roots (I've always loved dark, gothic, edgy clothing) when shopping, as previously I was just buying any ole black skirt in my size range. It helped me focus on the fact that fashion should represent my persona, my personal style.

I feel the jacket and boots also have a certain edge to them, so I thought they would be fun to pair with the 
skirt in this look. 

I received a lot of compliments on these boots in a previous outfit, so I wanted to try to get a better shot of them. I really love them.

I wanted to get a closer detail shot of the skirt with this picture. I think this shot just turned out too cool, haha. It really captures the attitude of this outfit. 

You can view this outfit in my Flickr photostream here:

A Small Expansion

I've made a few tweaks to the blog layout and added some new gadgets. There is now a gadget displaying recent photos from my Flickr photostream. I love reading comments on my looks on Flickr, so please visit my photostream and let me know what you think.

You may also notice there is a gadget to display twitter updates. That's right, HBD is now on Twitter! My hope is that the twitter updates will help fill some space between blog posts as well as help promote the blog itself. When it comes to writing I'm often much less than brief, so the character limit on Twitter is a bit troubling, but maybe I'll get used to using it for brief thoughts and updates.

On that subject, I have some concerns about the content on this blog. To date, the posts have been rather large walls of text concerning the "heavier" side of men's freestyle fashion. Ideally, I'd like to get into the habit of also talking about the lighter side, posting smaller and more personal updates about my experiences and thoughts. I think I've done a good job thus far of laying an introductory groundwork on my feelings and opinions about men's freestyle fashion, so hopefully moving forward I can also include some more casual posts.

I'd love to hear any thoughts or suggestions about what content you would like to see on this blog, as well as thoughts on how to best present it (ie. do I need to include more pictures? lol). Feel free to email me at hisblackdress@gmail.com, or comment on this post with your thoughts.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Boys in Dresses: Ignoring Labels

In the previous Boys in Dresses post (which you can check out here) I outlined some of the different outlooks when it comes to men wearing clothing from the women's department. I talked about the spectrum, as I see it, of "fashion freestylers" that ranges from men in kilts all the way to androgynous boys. Within the online community, there seems to be a lot of separation and even animosity between these different outlooks, which I find unfortunate. A lot of the online forums for men in skirts tend towards the kilt side of the spectrum, often not wanting much to do with men who step too far out of a traditional masculine look.

Another topic I spoke about in the previous Boys in Dresses post was the "One item rule", that a man should only wear one item of women's clothing at any given time. I often see people say things like, "Let's get people to accept us wearing skirts first, then we can incorporate something else." I think the general idea is that a man wearing a skirt, tights, and heels openly as a man presents a very jarring shock to people's preconceived notions on fashion, whereas a man who has just replaced his dockers with a skirt is a lot less jarring, and thus may be more easily accepted. I reject this way of thinking based on one reason: I'm not waiting around for anyone's approval on how I want to dress.

Social perception defines what is viewed as masculine or feminine, and men are expected to stay within the masculine box. However, I think it is silly, and even outdated, to cling to such preconceived notions. At the end of the day, a dress is just a piece of fabric, cut and sewn into a particular shape. I just don't understand the need to put a gender label on that piece of fabric, to say that only girls can wear it. I'm going to beat a dead horse a bit here, but I have to bring up the elephant in the room: pants. It wasn't that long ago that people got in an uproar about women wearing pants. See, previously fabric made into pants had that pesky "for boys only" label on it, until women challenged that and took to wearing them.

As I said above, I think it's silly to put all these restrictions and expectations on people based on gender. With my fashion, I'm less concerned about masculine and feminine, and more concerned with body shape, and how something looks. For example, I've received a lot of compliments on my legs. It just seems natural to me, then, to want to show them off. If my legs look great in a pair of sheer tights and high heels, why shouldn't I wear them? If my body looks good in a dress, why shouldn't I wear it? Because boys shouldn't wear that? Well, why not, and says who?

I just don't agree that men & women should only look a certain way, that fashion choices have already been made for me based on what's between my legs. Don't get me wrong though, I am a man and I'm happy about that, I just happen to be a man wearing a dress. It's just fabric, garments chosen because I like the way they look and feel.  The fabric on my body doesn't change the person I am nor does it dictate my sexual preferences. I ignore the gender labels on clothing, because I simply cannot imagine living my life as anything other than myself, unashamedly so.