So apparently there is a predetermined reason why girls like pink and boys like BIG TANKS. It all goes back, so the theory says, to the days where little cave girls would be out foraging for berries. Being attracted to pink made this easier, and, with survival of the fittest being as it is, all the little forager dunces who preferred blue or orange simply didn’t make the evolutionary cut. Meanwhile all the little cave boys were out hunting bears or guinea fowl or whatever they fancied for tea, and them being attracted to moving objects and WEAPONS made this easier.
Now, I’ll leave you to work out the exact percentage of total bull that is... But still, it sometimes feels like we haven’t quite moved beyond that berries and bears divide, even millennia later.
The nearest I get to foraging these days is hanging around the discount aisle at quarter to seven in the evening waiting for the man and his nice yellow barcode-stickers to anoint some slightly out-of-date smoked salmon and bring it teetering back down into budget. We’ve come a long way since gobbing about in the shrubbery for strawbs so why am I still offered bubble-gum biros for my lady-notes or fuchsia-flavoured razors for my lady-pubes?
It’s with the same slightly exasperated expression that I see identical hair-removal kit aimed at men, this time all packaged up as EXCALIBER 2000 XPLUS like it’s actually some marine warfare equipment that could take out a fleet of Russian war-ships, targeting the same lads who get a bit teary at the idea that their steak once had a face.
The fashion world is often no better.
A while ago I went on the hunt for a pair of Plain. Black. Socks. (I know- not desperately exciting to report on a fashion blog, but hey, we all need the basics.)
But could I find said pair of Plain. Black. Socks? Could I buggery.
I thought I’d tracked some down after wading through fishnet socks and glittery socks and ‘mermaid’ socks (which is frankly a little insensitive because the one thing you can’t wear if you’re a mermaid, is socks) but I got them home to find a mini tutu stitched around each ankle. I’m not five years old, I yelled at the Sock Gods, I’m not Grayson Perry- I do not want frills on my socks.
It’s not that I am in any way opposing frills, furbelows, bells or whistles in general (I mean, just look at me). It’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s necessary even to explore your personal style, adding and subtracting depending on what feels good. I’m all for that, good luck to ye.
It’s a more sinister, pervasive thing that gives me the heebie-jeebies- when something is thrust upon you, or indeed taken away from you and you haven’t been able to make the choice about it. Like pink razors and the pay-gap, those frilly socks really pissed me off.
Ditto the extraordinary shape that retail manufacturers presume female humans to be.
T-shirts cut so extremely you could easily smuggle a couple dozen packets of the aforementioned salmon down the cleavage and still have room for some bargain basement cream cheese too. Skirts and dresses with slits so far up you can see what the wearer has had for breakfast, or at the very least whether she’s been putting that pink razor to good use. Jackets and coats tailored for, well, fairies presumably- it’s not like I’m that big a person, but it’s too often that my child-bearing shoulders cause me to explode out of these garments like Hulk in a bait.
Which is why I’ve started shimmying down a floor in department stores to sneak into the Men’s section. Turns out we’ve been missing a hella lot of good stuff all this time- I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to get off the escalator a floor early and get on board with some seriously desirable clothing aimed (originally) at men.
You obviously need to employ a relatively light touch here- we’re aiming more for Katherine Hepburn and less for Albert Nobbs. For this reason, I tend to avoid trousers (eye-poppingly droopy crotch ahoy). I don’t bother with shoes either, as they’re almost always too big, and because one thing Fashland have cottoned on to in a big way is that us gals love an androgynous pair of stomps.
But t-shirts, shirts, jumpers, jackets, coats, scarves, belts, holla!
T-shirts are boxy and long, roomy and comfortable, and don’t have some fantasy lady-curvature optimistically sewn into them. They give great tuck (long enough to actually get under my waistband, for a start- most girl t-shirts end around the tummy-button on me).
This stripy one is from Zara Man, and with its interesting nubbly texture and its price tag (£9.99!!) it is definitely going to be a repeat offender in my wardrobe for seasons to come.
Blazers and jackets have a fun, laid-back, over-sized quality (because of the arm length and shoulder width) even if you go for the smallest sizes. I am in love with this linen number (also from Zara Man). It’s stunningly good quality and makes a fine transitional top-layer when you don’t fancy denim or leather. My shoulders are doing no bursting, and it can still be nipped in at the waist in case you’re feeling more Victoria than Victor.
It also looks pretty dashing on my gentlemen friend too, doesn’t it?
When Shania Twain sang about ‘Man shirts, Short skirts’ back in 1997, she had the right idea. That’s the evolution I’m getting on board with, away from either/or, pink or blue, muslin or machete. She showed us we can have both. I’m just secretly hoping I’m going to bump into her browsing men's polo shirts in John Lewis and we can start ‘Man, I Feel Like a Woman’ in unison all the way to the till.