It started out as an average shopping day; I aimlessly strolled through the mall empty-handed with nothing but Auntie Anne's cinnamon-sugar pretzel bites in hand. Glancing at window displays and browsing through clothing racks, I waited for something to jump out and grab me. But everything was so darn average and uninspiring.
And that's when it caught my eye: the dopest, wackiest button-down shirt I'd ever seen. The only problem? It was in the men's section at PacSun; I'd have to cross the unspoken invisible line that divided the store by gender. One quick glance around the store confirmed there were no employees or shoppers nearby, so I took the plunge and beelined it to the shirt.
As I thumbed through the rack to find an appropriate size, a sales associate approached me with a semi-confused look on her face. "Cool shirt, right? Are you, like, shopping for your boyfriend or something?" she asked me. I felt my face turning red, so I fibbed and said, "Yes." Embarrassed that I was actually thinking of buying the shirt for myself, I put it back, telling the sales associate that it may not suit my nonexistent boyfriend's style. Aaaaand cue the awkward exit.
Fast-forward to the present, and you'll regularly find me fearlessly wandering into the men's section. My favorite stores for affordable menswear are PacSun, Forever 21, H&M, and thrift shops, though the options are really endless. To date, my collection of men's pieces includes everything from a striped button-down and skateboarding sneakers to a jean jacket and four (yes, four) spunky Hawaiian shirts.
You may be struggling to understand my love for menswear, so let me break it down for you with a few reasons all women should give it a go.
- The clothes are never too tight. I've always gravitated toward loose-fitting silhouettes for shirts and dresses. Usually a men's size small is the perfect option to comfortably hide a food baby while also not swallowing me whole.
- You'll never be matching another girl. Want to stand out from the crowd of trend-worshipping fashionistas? Sporting some cool menswear is a surefire way to make sure you're the only one at the party wearing your outfit. So long, "Who Wore It Better?" face-offs.
- Yes, the clothing is actually flattering. Menswear isn't just loose-fitting; it's also surprisingly flattering. Of course, this is totally dependent on the size and style you're going for. Sure, some clothes may look like an actual potato sack on you, but for more structured pieces like button-downs, the tailoring is pretty spot on.
- You'll have the chance to experiment with your personal style. At first, I wasn't really sure how to style my most recent menswear acquisition, a thrifted gray and black t-shirt. But adding it to my wardrobe allowed me to experiment and figure out cool ways to adapt it to my style (aka pairing it with a red skirt and my favorite high-top Vans).
- The men's section is a great place for no-frills essentials. Most dudes are pretty simple when it comes to fashion, so the men's department is chock-full of go-to basics like plain tees and tanks. You won't have to sift through ultratrendy pieces like off-the-shoulder tops or striped culottes like you do in the women's section.
- But it's also a great place for some really unique pieces. The women's department just doesn't sell cool patterned button-downs like the men's section does. Your friends will constantly be asking you, "OMG, where did you buy that?"
- You'll be able to wear the pieces for more than just one year. A lot of womenswear is designed with trends of the moment in mind, so most clothing is only "in style" for a short period of time. But menswear, for the most part, tends to be more about the classics - structured jackets perfect for layering, comfy sneakers for all-day wear, and plain shirts that are versatile enough for day or night.
Next time something catches your eye in the men's section, don't be afraid to tell the sales associate that it's for you and not your (imaginary) boyfriend/brother/father/friend. If you're not quite ready to take the plunge at the mall and prefer to do your browsing online, there are some cool menswear pieces ahead that will give you a hearty dose of swag.