Can women really pull of a cool look in men’s clothing? Join us in discussion with fashion blogger Mel Kobayashi who does wear men’s clothes sometimes and knows exactly how that feels like. Enjoy the show!

Margaret Manning:

Today my guest is Mel Kobayashi. Mel is a style blogger at Bag and a Beret, where her eccentric nature, sense of humor and art meet to form a unique fashion experience. She also does style boost coaching, and I love talking to her. So, today we’re discussing an interesting topic. Welcome to the show, Mel.

Mel Kobayashi:

Thanks so much for having me, Margaret. It’s such a joy to be here.

Margaret:

You’re very welcome. Our community of women loved you so much, they watched our previous three or four discussions over 15,000 times on YouTube! So, we all love hearing your advice on fashion trends, Mel-style.

Mel:

That’s a particular kind of style.

Margaret:

Yes, very unique. So, today we’re going to chat about the fascinating topic that is the androgynous movement that we see in fashion these days. How can women use elements from men’s fashion to accent their own style?

Mel:

I am one woman who loves incorporating elements from men’s style into my own look. When I think of men’s style, I think of suits – jacket, pants, tie, tuxedo, hat. I think of film noir, like James Cagney or Edward G. Robinson as the quintessential men’s style.

The androgynous kind of fashion is the kind that blends both genders to the point where you can be either. Basically, you walk the line between all the worlds, and I think that’s just fabulous. It’s a huge wide-open horizon. I have prepared a few things to show you.

Margaret:

We talk a lot about fashion in our community, and about the ways each of us has evolved into our own style in our 60s. So, I know there are a lot of women out there who think that since they’ve reached this age, they don’t have any space to try new stuff.

Hand on heart, I have never bought for myself a man’s anything. But now I’m tempted to go and just try something because the textures are probably different, the colors, shapes. I really think it’s important to have an open mind when it comes to this.

Mel:

To be honest, I always tended to think that men’s style is much more muted. But, I was in Nordstrom the other day, in their designer men’s section, and I was shocked! They were exploding in their clothing options. I’m very pleased to see that happening.

But I’m going to focus a little bit more on the stereotypical, traditional men’s pieces that we can incorporate in our style.

Margaret:

I guess, in some ways, men’s fashion is becoming more feminine. They’re doing more color, more silky fabrics. That’s another interesting conversation, but today’s focus is the James Cagney look.

Mel:

Oh, my God! Yes, and I’ve got the perfect hat to start this off.

Margaret:

I bet you do. What are you wearing today? You always have something interesting on that fits your wonderfully eclectic style.

Mel:

It’s a windowpane dress. But here’s a man’s hat I bought at a thrift shop. I just loved it.

Margaret:

It’s very cute, especially the side. It kind of dips there in the middle. It’s a lovely shape on you because you’ve got a nice-shaped head. Also, you could tie a different ribbon around it. Maybe one with words on it.

Mel:

Some people put sparkly little brooches in their hats, and I really like that touch. The first time I saw that I thought, “Wow, that’s so cool.” I also have a gondolier’s hat, which is a male profession.

Margaret:

Oh, very Italian. Very beautiful. I think glasses would fit that look, too.

Mel:

Yes, you’re right. I also have, of course, the tie.

Margaret:

I have never thought about men’s hats, and I love hats. Also, I have never been to the men’s sections in the thrift store, but I will definitely see what I can find there.

Mel:

You haven’t? You can buy a men’s oversized dress shirt and wear it as a nightshirt, which is always fun. Some of the modern designers will take a shirt, chop it up in two and then cross it, and sew it again.

Mel:

You can also wear that modern style, where the sleeves go down to your knees. I really like it, but it’s not terribly convenient.

Margaret:

Especially if you’re washing dishes.

Mel:

I love to wear a men’s jacket and add the tie.

Margaret:

Would you tie it the classic way?

Mel:

I like it untied, like I just came out from a night of partying. Like I’m Frank Sinatra in Las Vegas after gambling all night, singing and crooning.

Margaret:

In that case, you might want to have it half done up, hanging about your mid-line.

Mel:

I also like the intrepid newsroom reporter look, out on a big case and going back to type a story on the typewriter. I guess people in our age group know what a typewriter is, but many don’t anymore.

Margaret:

I think what’s really fun and unique about you and fashion is that you get into roles. You actually enjoy the drama.

Mel:

Yes, my life is a drama, and I think everyone has little dramas going on inside. It just feels good to feel like a movie star sometimes.

Margaret:

Rock star in your case.

Mel:

Yes! In my style boost consulting, I’ll tell my clients, “You’re a rock star, you’re a movie star. You have to be treated like it.” And this is a whole new concept for them.

It’s easy to have compliments slide by, and we don’t get compliments as much as we age. But we deserve them. So, we’re just going to have to go and get them by ourselves – and force them to do it, without forcing them, really.

Margaret:

I think it’s a great conversation starter, for sure. How do guys actually respond to you when they see you in a guy’s suit? What’s the engagement there?

Mel:

I’m not really interested in what men think about what I’m wearing. I’m quite happy in my relationship, but I’ve noticed that men are not keen on women wearing men’s clothes. I think they feel threatened.

I have to admit that when I wear men’s clothing, I get a swagger. Unfortunately for us, we grew up to think that men are in power. They’re the business guys. They go make the money. So, when I wear a men’s suit, I feel like I’m in control. And maybe some men don’t like that anymore.

But I think a woman in a man’s suit is really hot. Women admire that kind of boldness in other women way more than men do, so I think more women would be open to try that look. Into our 50s, and over, we can do whatever we want. We don’t’ have to think about out place anymore.

Margaret:

That’s how I think as well. When we get to our 60s, we don’t care about being judged by anybody else, but there are still these inner boundaries that we’ve set for ourselves about what’s appropriate and what’s not.

If you think, “Oh, I could never wear a men’s suit,” then don’t. Just wear a tie or a hat with a brooch. You don’t have to try to make a point of it. If it’s nice and you like the color or the shape, go for it. Forget it’s a man’s and try to break down those boundaries.

Mel:

Yeah, you’re so right about that, Margaret. And there are lots of women’s clothes that match the men’s choices. For instance, there are women’s blazers. They’re flared and more feminine, and women have worn them through the ages with hoop skirts and such. So, you can adapt that feeling of confidence that a men’s item would give you, into a perfectly beautiful women’s item.

Also, you can also wear an embellished shirt underneath your jacket or blazer, and that changes the look entirely.

Margaret:

Yes, this combination with the jacket and red shirt is really pretty. It’s very Spanish and full of flamenco.

Mel:

And if you put a hat on, then you’re ready.

Margaret:

That’s a great look. What I love about the way you approach fashion is that you’re very emotional about it. A lot of people wear clothing just for function. They say, “Okay, I’m 60 years old, I wear what I’ve worn forever.”

But you put an emotion into it. You say, “How do I feel today?” “What can I put on that’s going to express that emotion?” “I feel in control today, so I’m going to put a man’s hat on.”

There are more stereotypes about men as opposed to women, and we’re always trying to break down those stereotypes. Over time we’ll all wear just what we like.

Mel:

My style is too extreme for most people, but I’m not telling anybody to wear what I wear. I want to see people wear what they love to wear. You could be wearing jeans and a t-shirt, but if you’re feeling fantastic, I can see your emotion, not the jeans and the t-shirt.

Of course, they’re there, but I’m seeing you shine as a person. That’s what I like. I want to see people shine in the way I know that people can shine through their closet. Everyone could do that.

Margaret:

You are certainly shining, and your shine is contagious; it glows on everybody. Our community really loves you, for it.

Really though, this advice that you’re giving goes beyond the discussion about male or female clothing. It goes into this whole idea of just loosening up a bit with your style, making it part of who you are and embracing yourself.

Mel:

There’s no boundary in style, only the one that you set. We are the ones who teach people how we want to be respected.

Margaret:

Well, shine on my friend. Thank you so much for your time, Mel. We’ll talk again soon.

What do you think about women who wear men’s clothing? Have you ever worn anything tailored for a man? What did it feel like? Please join the discussion below and share any questions that you may have for Mel.

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