To me, there’s something unexplainably appealing about clothing and accessories inspired by typical menswear pieces. I’m not suggesting selecting clothes straight from your boyfriend’s wardrobe; which I find surprisingly hard to pull off, despite what blogs, films, and well-styled fashion shoots would imply. The items that frequently feature on my Pinterest boards, in my Tumblr posts and then eventually my wardrobe, are those that have been created by taking everything that we love about classic male style, and considerably re-working the piece with a feminine twist.
For example, I think that Hackney based footwear brand Miista have achieved this balance perfectly with their ‘Rylie’ brogues, and I absolutely must own a pair. The same goes for wardrobe staples such as blazers, biker jackets, oversized t-shirts and, of course, a lot of denim. To help pinpoint the precise allure of ‘borrowed from the boys’ style, I turned to designer Charlie May to discuss her eponymous clothing brand.
After studying Fashion Design at UWE in Bristol, Charlie gained experience with both Louise Goldin and Thomas Tait. She later launched her own label in 2011, which has since continued to attract the attention of several heavyweight fashion publications. The womenswear line has an unmistakably sophisticated, minimalist theme throughout. When asked about the process that goes in to her collections, Charlie explains: “I design how I like to dress, which is usually pretty laid back. Leaving detail to the fabrication of the pieces and design details is much more my style. I’ve always been very inspired by androgyny, as it just seems more exciting than overt femininity.”
According to Charlie, one of the most popular garments within the collection has proved to be “wide leg pants in various fabrics. They’re super long so they bunch on the ground … very 90s hip hop and RNB inspired. Of course we hem them to the length the customer requires, as that style isn’t for everyone, but I think you just can’t buy trousers like that now.” Charlie has completely embraced androgynous styling, to the point where her masculine inspired designs have even led to men purchasing from the womenswear brand. Success.
So how exactly can we explain this desire to own classic menswear pieces? “I think it’s about their laid back appeal,” says Charlie. “These garments are usually unfitted and hang looser on the body. To me it’s much more about comfort than about power dressing,” she adds. We are also in agreement that it’s vital to add feminine touches when styling masculine garments. Charlie explains that “jewellery is key. I like to wear a loose white shirt with a great watch and gold rings – it looks super sexy and confident,” in particular recommending timepieces by Larsson and Jennings, which provides me with more items to add to my never-ending wish list.
If we didn’t require any further encouragement to invest in classic menswear inspired pieces, Charlie concludes by telling me that she believes “a woman is at her most beautiful when she’s comfortable. I think that the modern consumer wants something that’s timeless, which you just aren’t going to get with a trend driven piece. I reject any idea that a women isn’t attractive when she dresses this way.” And with that, I’m off to the checkout.