Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Feminine Differential - Encoding

Men, what items of female-coded clothing and accessories would you wear if it weren't a big deal?

By Eivind

MY Note: What a good question! We challenge the very norm that this post rails against. I love to dress-up and will spend hours planning, shopping and putting together an outfit.  And what is the event? Maybe dinner out with friends, or an evening at the performing art center...  For whatever the reason, I make it a point to look my best and why? because I want to.  I enjoy the "Feminine Differential".



I think the saddest part of the male wardrobe is the options available for those occasions when you'd like to dress up beyond the everyday; say for a party or celebration of some sort.

Vintage Rhonda 
On ordinary days, say at work, you'll find the men and the women wearing pretty similar things. Jeans and a t-shirt, or perhaps some other cotton-trousers and a shirt or blouse instead of a t-shirt. Few people (of either gender) wear significant jewelry or makeup, half the women are (as near as I can tell) completely without makeup, and the other half have applied some modest amount.

But what happens when there's a celebration or party of some sort?

The men? They swap their jeans for black dress-pants, and upgrade their shirt and that's it. Add a vest and/or tie if you're feeling fancy, and that's about it.

Google "man dressed for party" and you get tons of variants of this theme:

And there's nothing wrong with that, as such. It's just that if you remove the tie and the vest, then this is more or less what I wear for work every day, so it doesn't really feel like much of a upgrade.

Makeup isn't common for men, even for parties, nor are jewelry of any kind. You can wear a necklace and/or bracelet if you like; I suppose. But be prepared for ordering both online, because if you walk into any jewelry-shop closer than 50 miles from me, you'll find that more than 90% of their selection is clearly intended for women.

The women? They seemingly have an order of magnitude more choice along several distinct axes that are more or less unavailable to me.

Starting at the top, they can make their hair in a large vairety of fancy styles; me I don't have much hair to begin with, and even if I did, and EVEN if I was among the comparatively few men who have long hair (by itself something you're socially pushed not to do), I'd STILL find my choices much more limited than those of a woman. I googled "party hairstyles" and looked at the resulting 1000 images. Literally ONE of those images depicted a man; that tells you something. (and adding "for men" doesn't help much; 95% of the images you get will have the same hairstyle, or a very close variant.

I'm exaggerating slightly when I say that all the men have the same hairstyle, but I think anyone would agree that there's substantially more variation and more choice among the women. More significantly, the hairstyles for men are pretty much the same they'd use for a day in the office; there just isn't that much potential for going fancy. In contrast, many of the women's styles are hairly glamorous and definitely sets them off relative to a everyday hair-styling.

I'm not even going to go into makeup, except to say that women have options for making more of it for a celebration or party than for a ordinary day, and men pretty much don't.

Clothing is a biggie too. Women choose from trousers, skirts, dresses and various other things I don't even know the name for. Men choose from trousers and .. well that's pretty much it really; I mean there's shorts, but while a shorter dress or a skirt is a real option for a party for a woman, for men the tendency is that you can only ever go shorter than full trousers for very informal parties; i.e. you're dressing down even more. Yes I know kilts and things like that exist, but it's not a social norm to wear them. Yes you can, but it takes more courage than I have; It's rare enough in my social circles that I've never attended a party where even 1 of the men was wearing one.

Shoes? Well, I guess I can pick between black and brown leather? Are there anything else that men actually wear to parties? I'm not gonna post even more images, but I encourage anyone who doubts that men are lacking choice here to google "elegant shoes women" and "elegant shoes men", and witness the wall of near-identical brown or black leather shoes that is the sole option for men -- then compare it to the equivalent results for women.

I'd like to add at the end that though this lack of choice is a curse for those occasions when I'd like to dress up, it's also sometimes a blessing. For someone uninterested in clothing, it's cool that you can get away with having just a single suit, and one decent shirt; and you're good to go for anything up to and including your own wedding in 5 minutes flat. (10 if you need a shower)

But yes; if I "could", (I realize that technically I can!) there's definitely occasions were I'd spend an hour making my hair glamorous, and an additional half-hour applying more dramatic makeup than usual; then I'd pick something just a bit extravagant to hang in my ears, a nice necklace and matching bracelet, fancy shoes in a fun and attractive color and some kinda fancy clothes.

This makes it sound as if I'd be cross-dressing, I guess. And I think that by itself is precisely the problem; I have no desire to look like a woman. But once in a while I'd like to look like a glamorously dressed and styled MAN, and my problem is precisely that it too often feels as if that is a contradiction in terms, and an option that quite simply doesn't exist.


  1. I don't consider it crossdressing for a man to wear a dress or skirt anymore than it's crossdressing for a woman to wear pants.

    I've only come to this belief in the past few years, and already, I have a number of gowns and heels/boots to wear to weddings, parties, musical theatre, etc. I just wear it, own it, and slay it and have a great time.

  2. Our culture allows women more choices in clothing than it allows men. That is the bright side and it is true. The dark side of more choice is more judgment about choices made. Women encounter judgmental attitudes, too often unfair, about their clothing and their bodies more often than men do. That is sad. That is maddening.