Dude looks like a lady

02 May 2013 - 02:30 By Andrea Nagel
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Justin Bieber may be a few chest hairs short of being a macho man, but one can hardly deny Lenny Kravitz's masculinity. The two performers don't have much in common, but both have recently been rocking a new trend: leggings for men, or meggings.

Other celebrities, including Russell Brand, have embraced the Robin Hood look, despite men's magazine style editors around the world voicing their distaste for the trend.

Meggings join a long list of fashionable items that have traditionally been the preserve of women. Nail polish for men, or male polish, the mankini, manscara, guyliner and man-skirts are now all available to the fashion-conscious male.

Fashion blogger Mahlatse James, who can look as good as anyone wearing a blouse, kaftan, wide-legged pants, or ruffle, says: ''Men can wear skirts. It's as simple as that. We have to stop trying to be deep about it. I've worn skirts many times for the love of good style and it hasnothing to do with the need to dress in drag or the desire to circulate air around my guy bits. I merely saw Dion Chang doing it fiercely and decided to follow suit."

James, who admits to being ''ripped off" in his younger years for his ability to pick from the male and female sides of the closet, says it's so old school for men and women to dress differently.

''I define my look as an intersection between dandy and androgyny," he says. ''The trick to styling the androgynous trend is not to lose your masculinity, or sense of fun in dressing. Life is too short to wear a uniform every day, which is what most men do."

Fashion is certainly playing with the idea of gender . The boundaries between what men and women wear are becoming more fluid, not only in clothes but also in the way models look.

Bosnian-born Australian Andrej Pejic models both menswear and women's wear, and French-born Olympic swimmer Casey Legler is the first woman with a contract as a male model for Ford agency.

For years fashion writer Sandiso Ngubane has had a fascination with androgyny in fashion.

''It's much more interesting to buy from the girls' section," he says. ''Because of my body type I find the styles made for women fit me better."

He points out that androgynous dressing is nothing new - Prince and David Bowie were cross-dressing in the '80s.

''People should always dress to suit their body types," he says. ''Personally I can carry off a pair of meggings, but I wear shorts over them. I don't believe you need to expose too much."

The last round of fashion weeks confirmed the androgynous look was going both ways. The Dries lan Noten women's wear show in Paris a few months ago was described as ''fused gender: Fred and Ginger in one outfit", and other designers like Stella McCartney showed masculine shapes and clean, boxy lines.

Lifestyle writer April Shacklock says the recent fashion week in Paris was influenced by the official abolishment on February 10 of the archaic rule that women were not allowed to wear trousers in public. This was an obscure law passed in 1777 which stated that any women in the French capital who wished to ''dress like a man" must obtain special permission from the police.

Shacklock says the androgynous look for women is a ''refreshing antidote to the hyper-sexualised images of women we tend to be served up".

So embrace the freedom to raid your partner's side of the closet and not only will you have double the options, you'll also be right on trend.

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