(This is the first in what I hope will be a series featuring men whose sartorial choices espouse the ideas presented here about fashion freedom. My hope is to provide a look into the style and thoughts of other men who have expanded their wardrobes to include skirts, dresses, or heels. Enjoy the interview, and be sure to check out the links & support these guys!)
Blog: Chick Like Me
YouTube video of note: Crossdressing And Crazy Girls (Be sure to check out his other videos too!)
Name: Rye Silverman
Hometown: Columbus, OH. Now living in Los Angeles
What made you decide to start wearing skirts? Boy, I don't really know what made me decide to start wearing them, I remember being a kid and having a girl friend named Lisa that I played with a lot, my mom's friend's daughter. Because I had a girl friend at such a young age I never had that "girls are yucky" phase, but I also didn't understand why I wasn't allowed to wear the same cool skirts and tights that Lisa's mom dressed her in. That never really went away as I got older.
As far as what made me go public about it, I don't know, I guess I just got tired of the anxiety of wanting to do it and being afraid of what people's reactions would be if I did. I just decided it was better to be myself and let the pieces fall where they would, thankfully the reaction has been vastly positive.
How would you describe your style? I say "geek crossdresser" or "slacker crossdresser" sometimes, I shudder to think it but I don't know if "hipster crossdresser" would be all that far off either, because I feel like I essentially dress about the same as a lot of girls my age would dress, lots of black tights and boots, often paired with a t-shirt. I do like to put some effort into my looks though so I do try to find things like belts and jewelry and such that will go with an outfit, I don't like looking "half and half" that is to say, like I'm a male from the belly up and a female from the waist down, so I do try to make sure any outfit I build has an overall look or vibe to it, hence the accessories and often why I'll wear a nice long cardigan to kind of blend my torso and shoulder area with my skirts and such.
Who inspires your wardrobe and why? Mostly girls that I see out experimenting with their looks. There's a Flickr group called Wardrobe Remix that I occasionally post my own styles in, but it is mostly girls doing amazing things with layers and with thrift store finds. It really inspires me to take pieces of my wardrobe and combine them in new and different ways. It's part of what is so much more exciting about wearing the clothes I do. It's challenging and as such more rewarding when it works.
Otherwise I'd say folks like Eddie Izzard and David Bowie who just give me the inspiration to go out there and try my own looks as well.
What is your favorite aspect of wearing a skirt? Least favorite? I just love the way they look and feel on me. and honestly now that I'm so open about it and comfortable with myself, I feel very confident when I wear one. Sometimes I'll be out hanging out somewhere and I'll look down and see the hem of my skirt resting on my tights and I'll think... wow I can't believe I'm doing this. I know that just 3 or 4 years ago I didn't believe I ever would, so it's a constant reminder of how liberating it is to be yourself.
Least favorite, aside from the fact that yes it does make it a little more inconvenient to sit sometimes, would have to be the way it often immediately sets me apart. Despite the fact that I do comedy, I'm not someone who needs to be the center of attention in a crowd or group if I'm not performing, but when I walk into any new situation in a skirt, it's the thing everyone notices about me immediately. I have to remind myself sometimes that part of being so public about it is accepting that it probably will make me that eccentric guy in a lot of people's minds for the rest of my life. It's a bummer to know for at least the foreseeable future I'm not going to be able to dress the way I like to for any sort of true formal type thing without people immediately seeing it as an attempt to make some sort of statement or steal focus.
What's the best reaction you've received when wearing a skirt? The worst? Recently when wearing a kilt on a nice sunny SoCal January day, a scottish man in a pick up truck high fived me out of the driver's side window as he drove by, it was pretty awesome.
The worst was probably the time I was waiting in a checkout line at Target and the little girl behind me in line was pointing at the solid black SportKilt I was wearing with opaque black tights and boots and a men's shirt, and she just kept laughing and giggling and saying stuff like "Skirts are for girls." I didn't really mind the kid though as much as her mother, who just kept shooting me dirty looks in line as if she was expecting me to say something about the kid and was hoping to unleash her anger on me. She just kept giving me a glaring, angry look and the thing that drove me crazy was this woman had buzzed hair and was wearing dirty sweatpants. She didn't seem to understand that she was dressed super butch so why was my girliness ok for her kid to make fun of?
What are your favorite places to shop for clothes? I try to constantly keep an eye out for stuff I could mix into my wardrobe so I'll shop all over. As far as name brand stores go, I'm not super wealthy so for me it tends to me stuff like Target, Old Navy, the Gap, Forever 21, & Urban Outfitters. I've had a lot more luck with thrift stores than I used to as well. Oh and I get kilts from SportKilt typically.
What clothing item would you say is timeless? The skirt! Pants have had an okay run but the skirt, or skirted garments have been around since man first wrapped an animal skin around himself.
Any advice for other guys who want to start wearing skirts? Confidence is key. But also try to actually put some effort into your look. Don't just throw on a skirt like it's a pair of cargo shorts, take some time to see how everything else you're wearing compliments or detracts from your look. Whether you're wearing a full on androgynous look with tights and makeup and a matching purse, or if you're just rocking a tough as nails kilt-guy look, just make sure your t-shirt works with the colors and length, and maybe try the right boots instead of sneakers with black socks. You're dressing in a way that isn't the norm, you can't stop people from thinking it's weird but you can sure as shit do your best to convince them that it's a good enough look that it's worth being weird.
Thanks to Rye Silverman for the interview! Be sure to check out his links above and support this fellow man in a skirt!