ooh la la

Was crossing the road, actually, when a random thought hit me. In school, learning French (okay, not learning it: I've had a few cute French boyfriends since then, back in NY days, and was kicking myself I didn't try harder), I remember being told 'everything is either masculine, or feminine'.

When I get dressed, even to throw something on to run out for a coffee, there's always this instinctive genderisation thing going on in my head: I'll put on le leather jacket, la pink watch, le brogues, hmm.. needs perhaps a la la blouse.. for me it's no different than cooking: each dish has its own unique ratio of spicy to bland, salty to sweet, crispy to soft. Endless possibilities.

My personal theory of why everyone went mental for Christopher Bailey's Aviator jacket last season wasn't the jacket: it was pairing it over those gorgeous dresses. Which is what we've been seeing on the street from Day One.

Have you noticed that when we say 'androgynous' in fashion we really mean totally le male?

Of course, men have been dressing all girly periodically in history: la dandy, par example, or the whole New Romantics thing in the 80s.. and let's not forget cross dressers.

I don't think I've dressed totally feminine in my life: I always lean towards the lean, the spare, the simple, the male. With a few female twists. Take Stephanie, of Style Odyssey, for example ('maximum impact'): she can pull off le masculine because, in reality, she's so feminine. And those red lips! Ooh la la!


LADYPLAY said...

i like the outfit very cyte of the first pic !

Shopgirl said...

I love that blue tutu skirt - I want one!! Oh, I know what you mean about languages and boyfriends and wishing you'd paid more attention in class! Nothing like a man to spur you into learning a language!! Haha! xx

San said...

I really like the first outfit, the bowler hat with the tutu, just awesome.

When it comes to Stephanie I really thought it was a man wearing lipstick until I read the text. And still now I feel it's too much on the male side.

Anonymous said...

oh la la la. I had a skirt like that when I was younger - but it was pink. Even better in blue

mtg said...

Stephanie is awesome!

Style Odyssey said...

Jill, i'm flattered! seriously. but i read San's comment- i never would have thought i could actually pass for a man (with 34C boobs!) now that is scary.
as i mentioned on twitter, the first girl bears a striking resemblance to me in the 80s- it's uncanny. i should dig out some old pics...
and to ByeByeSoccerMom, you're pretty awesome yourself. :)
great post- interesting topic. xo

jill said...

That's wild (Stephanie) re: the top shot - I can see that, there's a kind of pixie quality to her that's very 'you'. San, I can see if you saw those two shots taken out of context but check out Stephanie's blog - you'll see she's actually really curvy and feminine. She's just recently cut her hair this short, this is a real style departure for her.

It really is unnerving in some ways when a woman dresses (successfully) as a man. I read somewhere that when Kate Hepburn did Sylvia Scarlett she was so successful that it really freaked people out. David Bowie went thru a stage where you could see he was really channelling Kate Hepburn playing a man.

Confusing, I know!

Thanks guys. I mean, girls. I mean, both. xo

the style crusader said...

love how you've written the little la/le all over the photo! what a clever idea jill! really wonderful and unique way to look at the whole masculine/feminine dressing topic. the first girls outfit is pretty epic and i really love style odyssey's hair! so amazed by women that can pull off cuts like that. xx

Penny said...

I seriously love the skirt in the first photo! I think the addition of a necktie with the second look would be cool!

Style Odyssey said...

i just had to add...this really is an interesting topic...i've always been intrigued by the whole masculine/feminine concept, which is partly why designers such as ann demuelemeester and helmut lang (my trousers) hold such appeal. and i've always liked contrasts. and elements of surprise.

by the way, san might have a point. i was once mistaken for a boy when i was 12, with my long hair tucked inside a baseball cap. i was dumbstruck and said to my dad: "daddy, do i look like a boy?!" he was like "huh? uh...NO. why?" anyway.

as for my own post "maximum impact", i hadn't even thought of the androgyny of the outfit; i was going for sheer- or near- minimalism, as i've grown weary of "too-muchness", for lack of a better term.

i will have to look into the "david-bowie-channeling-kate-hepburn-playing-a-man". ok, now i'm getting confused. kidding. ;)

jill, one thing i love about your blog is you bring up such interesting discussions. it's- as you would say- street style with a twist.


daniela kate morosini said...

haha, i love the cute french boys! the whole everything having a gender thing confuses me too.

and you're right, it does often just mean masculine but with classically feminine things in - do people use the same word for feminine males? x

San said...

Yep, you are right Jill, looking at Stephanies blog, I realized it a lot better.

For discussions sake: I think this look is on the edge. And yes, you can look like a man, even with a C or even D-Cup, I accomplished this for years! I was a total tomboy until a year ago.

I think what is so irritating to me or giving of this extreme vibe of "manliness" (in lack of a better word) are the accessories. If Stephanie would have worn no accessories at all it would have been less "manly" in my opinion.

Nevertheless good look.

The Photodiarist said...

You are right about the way to pull off a masculine look. To do it, one has to add some element of feminine - be it red lipstick or letting one's hair down or adding sexy heels or adding some "underwear as outerwear". . . (remember that phrase of yours?)

Style Odyssey said...

ok, one more from lil ol' me here...The Photodiarist hit the nail on the head: add an unquestionably feminine element, with masculine elements, and as a whole, it can work on a woman (and we can call that androgyny, right?)

and yes, i do see what San means...without those spiked bracelets, the outfit would appear less masculine. i suppose i normally wear those "manly" looking cuffs w/ more femme items; i wear them almost daily and therefore without much thought. do take note, there is a heart pendant bracelet on my wrist to offset the hard-edged spikes, though it's not so noticeable in the photo here.

thanks again for a fun and enlightening discussion, Jill. i've thoroughly enjoyed reading the comments from everyone. xo

jill said...

Oh I love when this happens! San please don't worry because as Mrs Odyssey has said, she doesn't get offended easily. I, on the other hand, am extremely sensitive.

Has anyone noticed how incredibly supportive and kind bloggers, as a group, tend to be? It's such a shock to my system when I go to, say, the NY Times comments and people are just so. freaking. angry.

Fashion bloggers - the one group you'd think, if you didn't know, you'd assume would be such bitches - really do tend to focus on the positive, and keep criticism constructive, not cruel.

I have always loved a healthy debate. On any topic. Maybe it's in the genes: my mom was in the Debating Society in college ; )

Okay, it's nighttime here in Greenwich Mean Time, I'll leave the rest to those of you in the Western Hemisphere.. unless you're in China in which case you should be waking soon.


R. said...

Loved this whole discussion. And yes, Steph I can see you in the 80s top pic. And maybe, since the 80's influence is back, perhaps we'll see you on your blog ala 'Back to the Future' in a similar outfit. Guess who has one now?? Must send you pics! I think you are more channeling Julie Andrews aka Victor/Victoria, a masculine look but never really 'manly'manish. Am I making sense here? It's a great edgy look. ;0

Kazuko said...

agree with the photodiarist - add something very feminine and you'll have a very sexy masculine look. i also think that women with delicate features can pull off that look very well. you don't have to have big boobies or to be super curvy. i think it's more the face and the attitude which make that look work. :)

Style Odyssey said...

R., YES, I remember Julie Andrews aka Victor/Victoria (which I found quite unnerving actually). I'll be looking for those pics, girlfriend, so send them on. Must check my email, maybe you already have.

And polka dot...I'm sensitive too, just not easily offended. Which probably makes no sense. ;)

mtg said...

Jill, i've revisited this post and am laughing out loud b/c i remembered what happened to me when i was little (about 6). maybe short hair was in style then, i don't know, but my mom insisted and took me to get a cut against my wishes. it was so short, i remember crying b/c i was afraid i looked like a boy. then some kind lady tries to calm me down saying "don't cry, little boy!" imagine my reaction, LOL!

jill said...

Maya, sorry to laugh but I'm laughing out loud. Don't cry, little boy!

You know what, Stephanie? I think I'm the same way: I guess all artistic people are sensitive, it seems to come with the territory. But the older I get - the more experience - I've come to realist that most things that happen that feel personal - hurtful things that are directed at me - really aren't personal. They're more to do with the other person's experience.

Kazuko: totally agree. Thanks for commenting, I'll check out your blog in a day or so when I've got a bit more time - it's 'press week' here.

Night night! xo