There have been many times when I’ve been mesmerized by an apparel store and, out of habit, been pulled into the women’s section. However, what has also been quite common in my desperate attempts to find the perfect clothes were coming across the price tags, fewer pockets, weirdly odd fittings (Zara, I’m looking at you), and me feeling as though those outfits were not meant for me. A year ago, after yet another investigation through the racks of clothing designed for women, I was close to giving up. That is until my eyes landed on a sweatshirt – in the men’s section.
It has been almost a year since I started shopping from the men’s department, and I don’t mean to stop anytime soon. Combining clothes from the two sections has been a lifesaver for both my closet and my budget. By the end of this article, even you may consider dropping by the men’s section – who knows?
I had always trudged behind my mom and other women in my life to the women’s section of stores, albeit while noticing the striking difference in the clothing of the two sections – think tight, body-fitting vs. loose, comfort-first. With minimal choices in t-shirts, coats, and jackets in the stores that we went to, I could only buy what was cheap and feminine.
The first time I tried something tailored specifically for men was a hand-down from my dad. I had this bland-looking tank top, and it didn’t look good with anything. As the scavenger hunt through my closet went on, my dad picked out a few of his shirts he was planning on recycling. He asked me to look through the recyclables since most were small on him, and I noticed a checked shirt from Allen Solly – it fit perfectly with my stretchy tank. Since then, as my body started changing with puberty, I started relying on my dad’s clothes to hide my insecurities.
My style mostly consists of oversized clothes, be it sweatshirts, crop-tops, or hoodies. I’ve been hoarding clothes double my size even before it became a thing, thanks to my insecurities-turned-need-to-be-comfortable. However, buying oversized outfits from the women’s section means succumbing to what is known as the ‘pink tax.’ This simply means that women’s clothes and other basic necessities (sanitary pads, skincare products, essentials, etc.) cost more than their male counterparts. This is a throbbing issue everywhere in the world. According to Femina India, a razor for men in India costs about $1.18 for a pack of five, while a razor targeted for women by the same brand costs $1.08 for a pack of one. Furthermore, women’s clothing cost 8% more than men’s. And brands don’t even try to hide it.
This weekend, I went down to the nearest shopping mall and found a cheaper alternative to a navy sweatshirt at the men’s department from one store. The aesthetic was cuter, more minimalistic, and just what I had in mind. Among others, I also ended up buying a relaxed-fit hoodie and a flannel shirt.
It’s not just me – there are so many celebrities from time untold who have confidently stridden in clothing tailored for men. Grace Jones rocked her suit in the Netherlands in 1981, Kristen Stewart wore a tailored suit and heels at the San Sebastian Film festival, and Patti Smith, the punk poet laureate, consistently wore shirts, denim, and graphic tees, to name a few. And they all look badass.
Only a few brands have started designing gender-fluid clothing, but they often come with a heavy price tag. Until more brands start becoming gender-fluid and cheap, combing the two departments has the best of both worlds – the budget-friendly price, the comfort, and the broader range of style.
If you don’t know what to start dipping your creative brush into, here are three of my favorites that you may want to consider in your list.
1. Trench coat with belt
I usually pair mine with a graphic tee and wide jeans, but you can pair it with anything!
2. 90s matte black cyberpunk techwear cargo pants
Yep, I love black. I love streetwear. And I’m here to guarantee that nothing can go wrong with cargo pants. They’re not only stylish but so, so comfortable.
3. Relaxed fit black crewneck pullover
When they say soft, they mean it.
Happy (and conscious) shopping!
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