The Man Repellant List
My fashion loving friends and I spend no small amount of time talking about the intricacies of the latest fashions.
How will I wear it? Is it the right shade of black? Do these boots make me look short? I recently had to be talked off a ledge over some heinously expensive Valentino studded biker boots. But they cut at exactly the right part of my leg and made me look taller! Walking away took all of my willpower (I already own biker boots and can’t justify heinously expensive) but I guess one upside is, my boyfriend would have hated them.
And that leads to the other question that inevitably comes up: Is this a girl dress? (Or shoes or pants or skirt). That is, it’s a bit edgy; a tad fashion forward and indeed outre. So is it a man repellant?
Author and popular blogger Leandra Medine defines Man Repeller (in the context of fashion) as a noun:
“She who outfits herself in a sartorially offensive mode that may result in repelling members of the opposite sex. Such garments include but are not limited to harem pants, boyfriend jeans, overalls, shoulder pads, full length jumpsuits, jewelry that resembles violent weaponry and clogs.“
Stylist and personal shopper for The Room, Jessie Carlson, goes further, saying man repellant clothing is, “Anything that’s too trendy, from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet. Anything that’s too fashiony, too comfortable and even if it’s too provocative … because it’s inauthentic. Most men and women want to see a little realness.”
Harem pants are said to be the original item on the man repellant list. It has to do with the crotch drop. “They’re cool and edgy”, says Carlson, “but they couldn’t be less sexy if they tried.”
Carlson would add platform sneakers to the list. “Even (designer) Isabel Marant who started the whole thing says they’re ugly.” Same goes for UGG Boots, no matter how they’re worn. (I tend to agree. That is one trend I have never understood. All I can think about is how sweaty and stinky they must get.)
And then there is the enduring fad of stacked bracelets, sometimes half a dozen or more, which is particularly popular with the west coast boho set. “The arm party,” as Medine calls it. “Again,” says Carlson, “it’s overkill. A nice watch and one or at most two bracelets is attractive.”
There are two items from the repellant list that I’ve added to my spring wardrobe collection partly because they have, I believe, evolved: Track pants and boyfriend jeans. Designers are now cutting both to better flatter a woman’s body and indeed the latter is now the “girlfriend jean.” I’m loving my new Moschino’s trackpants (as seen above with pointy heels and a blazer) and Mother’s denim.
Carlson says it’s about finding a balance. “You can go the way of trying too hard to have perfect everything; hair, outfit, nails and it just screams insecurity. Or you can go the way of saying I don’t care at all. I’m wearing the sweatpants I slept in, put my hair in a bad bun and I’m going to run out into the world and do something. It’s not the best representation of yourself and you should be at home in your living room. It’s about finding that balance between trying hard and not trying hard enough.”
In fact I have, at one point or another, owned almost every single thing on the man repellant list. And I say, screw the list. Because it’s all in how you wear it. Ask someone you trust and figure out what looks good on your body, know the trends but don’t be a slave to them and wear what makes you feel beautiful. Because at that point, even if you’re wearing harem pants you’ll be hot.