Laura writes from the Pacific Northwest. She explores topics on relationships, mind-body wellness, social issues, and lifestyle.
I've lived through enough fashion trends to be OK with men wearing makeup. It was the 80s when all major rock bands wore makeup and wore their hair long. Anything and everything was approved fashion. I loved the way thick black eyeliner highlighted the stony blue in Bret Michael's eyes.
In the 80s, makeup, hoop earrings for guys (my husband had them), long-haired perms, and other trends were considered completely normal for men. The 21st century statement for men in fashion seems to be "androgynous". There is a fluidity between genders on the rise.
Trends have changed over the years and usually for a particular reason other than likes and dislikes—some are about freedom of expression, culture, and societal and gender exploration.
Whether or not it’s attractive, for some males, clothing and styles for men feel “restrictive." They can experience "gender role conflict," a psychological state in which restrictive definitions of masculinity limit men’s well-being and potential.
Skinny Jeans (Originally "Girl Jeans")
Guys of all types are sporting girls' jeans in a “skinny jean” style for men.
This trend can be attractive on men with thin frames, but it also reminds me of an experience I had with my guy friends.
One night I was attending a basketball game with a couple of guy friends. Afterwards, we were walking to our cars when, suddenly, the guys stopped dead in their tracks.
Of course, I assume they're checking out a girl, so I don't pay much attention, but I slip a curious glance her way. She was bent over, reaching for something in her car, wearing I-can't-believe-she-can-still-breathe tight jeans.
The object of their extreme interest stood up and turned around to reveal a dude in girl jeans. My friends were checking out a DUDE and believed they were checking out a girl before he turned around.
As far as I'm concerned, guys should not wear any article of clothing that encourages other guys to accidentally ogle and drool over them. However, that can be chalked up to a causality of fashion.
“Footballers back in the seventies, they used to wear those little shorts, No one was questioning their manliness; other guys wanted to look like them, in fact. They had the confidence to show their bodies, and to be playful.”
— Martine Rose, Mens Fashion-wear Designer
Read More From Bellatory
Man-skirts, not kilts, but actual skirts, can be made to appear more masculine.
There are rules:
- show some leg, but not too much
- must be thick, durable, type material. Nothing silky or too smooth
- dark colors are best
- no pantyhose
- shaving is unnecessary
- wear underwear underneath
My first contact with a man-skirt happened not too long ago when I was taking a nature hike with my family.
We came to a spot where the trail got steep, but luckily there were stairs and a railing. It was at this point I realized I was behind a guy who was wearing a man-skirt with hiking boots. Up and up we went, and I thought if I looked directly above me I could probably see up this man's skirt. Sure enough, I got a view of nature I wasn't planning on that day.
Men Wearing Painted Nails
It used to be sexy for a man to paint his woman's nails or toenails, now he's asking her to paint his nails. I can't picture anything cuter than girlfriend and boyfriend painting each other's nails.
Real men wear nail polish. There's no feminine stigma attached to it anymore. In fact, men get quite creative with donning one or two nails on each hand, typically in darker colors.
Male Grooming: Getting a Wax Job
I used to hang out with bodybuilders who are quite waxed out to the max, so I'm not accustomed to, or fond of overly hairy, beastly guys. I am a little intimidated though, by a man who is smoother than a woman or a baby. In fact, if you get near me with too smooth a butt, I will probably diaper it out of habit.
However, body waxing and shaving for men ("manscaping") can be viewed as a common courtesy to women. Women go through a lot of effort to be "manicured," and it is nice when a man is not rough and hairy to an extent that it affects attraction and intimacy.
It is not uncommon for men to also wax hairlines as well as unibrows to give them a "clean look".
Men Wearing Feminine Accessories
Accessories have always been a fun way of playing up and outfit, and now they can be for men too!
Bracelets consisting of earthy materials, such as onyx, leather, and rope, are all the rage for men. Delicate jewelry is best left for women as their features (wrists and necklines) are smaller.
Accessories for men are no longer limited to cuff links, sunglasses, and wrist watches. Other attractive accessories include scarves, suspenders, hats and bowties.
Man-Purse or Satchel
This man-purse trend became popular with the onset of metrosexuals: metropolitan heterosexuals. Basically, it's men who are more high maintenance and fashionably aware than most men (and some women.)
There is a reason for women having a purse. We have to tote around female products and other things that make you guys squeamish. Men typically carry them for work, travel, and after-work functions.
Man Ponytails and Man Buns
I’m part sad and part envious to see how truly gorgeous a man’s hair is when he grows it out. Most men have done less styling and stressing on their hair compared to the average woman. This means when they grow their hair out it can be prettier than ours.
It’s sad to see what my hair could look like if I didn’t perm it in the 80s, flatten it in the 90’s, and color it for the past few decades.
However, men can embrace both shorter and longer styled buns with just about any style they rock from business to casual. I know a few lumber-sexuals who look smoking with their buns.
Men Wearing Pink
A variety of colors are offered in men’s departments now. Go ahead and rock the pink tee or polo. A red tie may say “power” in the boardroom, but a pink tee says “confidence” everywhere else.
Rompers have gained popularity in women’s fashion, but now they’re showing up for men as well. Instead of a romper is referred to as a “romphim."
It’s safe to say that some trends are flattering for both men and women, and there is a distinct difference between exploring gender and trends. When trends change, tolerance expands, and attraction between genders flows with the tide.
- 21 Man Bun Styles
Man buns are still a go-to men's hairstyle for long hair. Check out the latest man bun styles to get in 2017, including some celebrity looks.
- Male Grooming - Manscaping Styles and Pubic Hairstyles for Men
Find out what his pubic hair style reveals about his personality.
CarlMilner on March 24, 2020:
While I appreciate Bella's comments, racism, etc is not going away any time soon. Even in a very liberal California.
I loved this article. I myself use to wear women's underwear(bikini's and thongs) and do wear women's jeans. I just love the fit and feel of women's jeans(straight leg and boot cut). I have found men's thongs, bikini's and cheeky boyshorts that fit and feel better than women's and don't cost a fortune.
I wish I could wear leggings on a regular basis but don't have the guts. That would draw way too much attention, even in California. I do wear legging to run and bike in cold weather. My wife is not hip to me in legging either. She puts up with the jeans, as long as they are not too skinny. She could handle the panties as she didn't have to see me wearing them. She wants a normal, blue coller, masculine guy. I am all that but like some feminine things too.
Bella on November 11, 2019:
Hey, if a man wants to wear a dress, make up, or heels why not? What’s the problem? They are only clothes (and make up).The problem lies with those who criticise it! Are they doing anybody any harm? Societal gender expectations are thankfully becoming a thing of the past, as is racism, sexism, homophobia, etc etc. Women want equal rights, so this should extend to men as well, equality to wear what they want! Go for it guys, break the barriers, shock the old fuddy duddies in your best dress.
Larie Anne on August 05, 2019:
Jj, I just did a quick check on what you wrote about buying men's skirts versus buying women's skirts and I think your point is valid. I recently purchased a skirt online for my brother who does wear a skirt sometimes in public and it cost around $85.00. I bought myself a different skirt for $22.98 and I was very disappointed that I couldn't find anything less expensive for my brother.
Anto on May 06, 2019:
"In general many men would not find it particularly attractive for a woman to dress in man's pants so I feel the same about seeing a man in a skirt unless it is intended to be masculine in nature...and even then. I'm not paricularly attracted to feminine men."
Why are you taking it back to the gendered things, "feminine clothes" making men "feminine"
and " i think now it boils down to men losing their place in society, taking on more female roles, and i guess it's worrisome."
I think there are woman trousers and so there can be men skirts too, not that I personally wear them, although I like makeup and nail polish, and even when I don't I support it.
And women can be pretty attractive in jeans and short hair, like in skirts and dresses!
Anto on May 06, 2019:
You are nice everall but here ""Maybe we SHOULD not judge people", then you conclude with my "use of the word should...is bothersome". Hmmm. Telling me not to use the word "should" when you just suggested what I "should" do." you pulled a "intolerant of intolerance" argument, he referred to not using "should", not in absolute, but relatively to what people wear, at least not overly seriously.
I think one of the problem is, pretending the male fashion has to be only functional, expect as a sort of uniform and signifier and anything else has to be justified, which is depriving men of expression and ultimately of "art".
I myself don't like overly vain people, men or women, but that has nothing to do with wearing makeup and clothing for expression purpose, which not necessarily has to be equated with "omg, I didn't shave and I have to wear makeup" and with men it seems automatically equated with unreliable and narcissistinc, which has its roots in misogyny.
Like a woman might not wear short hair, jeans and oxfords, (in theory "men's shoes", but now gender neutral, as almost everything in male fashion), not to look like a man or crossdress, but to be comfortable or for style, the same should be true for men who wear make up and/or, long hair, nail polish, skirts, boatnecks and if they like, why not, heels. Now there's nothing wrong with crossdressing as well, but usually it's expressed differently.
It's almost like feeling sexy aesthetically or polished, has to be feminine, while depending on our style, it can combine with a beard, long or defined or being clean shaven.
Bob G on May 05, 2019:
Carhart blue jeans and a Harley t-shirt. Works great.
Jj on January 22, 2019:
The reason most men don’t buy men’s skirts and dresses that a lot of top designers have introduced is partly stigma but mostly prices. You see girls dresses and skirts everywhere for as low as $25 and up. But most men’s dresses and skirts an only be ordered online out of the country, rough materials and are hundreds and hundreds of dollars. So, who is going to order something online that they’ve never seen or know sizes and have to deal with all the negative stereotypes and bullying and laughs from males and females alike.
That is why, most men who don’t want to be women but want to broaden their choices of styles and fabrics and have the balls to try it buy women’s clothes and are considered cross dressers. Even though women wear men’s clothes all the time. Make this mainstream, affordable and out of nice fabrics and you will see more men wearing skirts and dresses and less cross dressing. Men don’t want to be women but love to feel sexy and love soft materials that provide options for comfort, practicality and style. All we have is pants and shorts mostly made of uncomfortable fabrics. Also do women don’t like lingerie but men do, so let men wear it. The same bikini or briefs underwear for men in soft stretchy fabrics and nice colors cost $25.00 and up even on sale and again only available online are same as women’s with the exception of panty liner sewn in but women’s are sold everywhere and cost as low as $6.00 a pair with better choices. So if designers and fashion forward people in the industry really wanted equality in fashion and to make clothing not gendered, then it should be inexpensive, readily available and hotly advertised like a brand new truck, car or other popular items. SUV weren’t always so popular but nowadays most families have at least one. End of story!
Feminine Man on December 24, 2018:
There are rules... No there are not.
Manly feminine cloths are to... manly.
I prefer womanly cloths.
cadavia on November 25, 2018:
Actually... I am a straight man however I have started to dress more feminine so much so that my girlfriend has become concerned. Started getting toe nails done at salon now I am actually shopping and wearing women's pants blouses light make up and shoes.Recently got a full set of P&W nails. Only regret... NONE
a d on November 18, 2018:
why should a guy "not wear any article of clothing that encourages other guys to accidentally ogle and drool over them"?? I don't see how this is relevant
Carey on October 21, 2018:
I would not want to wear pantyhose, but what about opaque tights? I've adopted some of the recent European runway fashion and a woman gave my outfit her approval the other day when I went into town. Think opaques under cropped above the knee shorts with knee-high wool socks and big brown hiking boots. A fleece sweater with collar or hood and beenie to match the socks. Just have to get the colors right and I think it really works. I found the key to pulling it off is the tall thick socks and the hiking boots. Those two things brought a lot of masculinity to the outfit. Modernized 16th century men's fashion was the idea in my head.
PaulaPlaytex on August 21, 2018:
I love to get my "Fingers and Toes Painted"...I wear my Bras and Panties 24/7, 365...I love my Nylons and Pantyhose...Sleeping in my Nightgown...Wearing Make-Up and Clip-On Earrings.
paul on August 03, 2018:
Thank you so much for this, you give me the confidence, to be a real man. Im a guy and i have always loved lacy women's panties.
Im going to go out and get a stash with matching bras and liberate myself
L Izett (author) from The Great Northwest on January 23, 2018:
Fgm I'm a woman and I would be thankful to wear the comfy clothes that men have. There's a reason why women joke about the first thing they do at the end of the day- TAKE OFF THEIR BRA. Most women don't even wear corsets anymore.
fgm on January 15, 2018:
yes I am a little bet older man I been wearing panties all my life with a bra I even go out to buy my own I have a lady friend that go with me shopping one day in a store I was looking at a corsets when the sale lady said that will look good on you I just smile here lets try it on she help me into the corsets after I was tie up she turn me around to show me a full mirror I look lovey she said you lady friend just came in were we are she said he makes one good girly bitch after that day and many more I never went back wearing male clothes again I do think men should learn to dress as they want to
John on January 13, 2018:
I think men are changing. We do not necessarily want to dress like women but I think there is trend to freeing up the restrictive style with a feline twist and to more feminine colours
Seva on June 30, 2017:
Sexism at it's finest.
Pink is a marketed color, along with blue, but here's a fun fact most women don't like pink, they guess what prefer blue.
Skirts were originally for men, they fell out of use when we were riding around on horses with swords. Now that we don't do so anymore and guys want to return to it they get judged.
Makeup has been used by both sexes since the Egyptians of the pyramids...polish is no exception.
Omg imagine the horror of a guy not wanting to be hairy! Not every guy in every country wears trunks or shorts for swimming/underwear some like in Europe, get this wear it bikinis...Oh wow.
Handbags/purses as long as not floral who floral, it's fine, guys need to store stuff too...
Long hair, seriously? Are you kidding me guys have been rocking long hair for centuries, this isn't a new phenomenon.
One you didn't add I noticed was heels, heels again were for men originally then fell out of favor.
I wonder how many women actually play video games marketed towards guys, or how many read comics targeted towards guys? Lots but we don't go no sorry this is for men, stop trying to be a man, because that's sexist, this is no different.
Quentin on February 24, 2017:
After all it is the twenty first century, it's about time REAL men are making changes.
Theres an old saying that goes; 'What comes around goes around'.
The ironically what is labeled "feminine" here was once was 'masculine' way back when.
The makeup- worn by Egyptian Pharoes, skirts- in variations, Scottish kilts, Pharoe's shendyts, Malay sarongs, etc.
As for purses, coin pouches were the purses of the days. Sachels have been used by men for various thing from different periods in history.
Screw what society thinks.
Women made changes that redefined what what it means to be a woman, so why can't men make the same changes. It shouldn't make a man any less. Aren't men allowed equal rights as women when it comes to personal preferences, tastes in styles?
James on January 15, 2017:
Listen, if this stuff doesn't suit your taste, then that's fine, but people are allowed to wear whatever they'd like (as long as it doesn't effect others around them in a negative manner). If a guy wants to paint his nails, then he has every right to. If he wants to wear lipstick, put on mascara, or anything, he's allowed to. The notion that, because you were born a certain sex, you can't wear certain fabrics or use certain materials, is absurd. Women and men can do whatever they'd like if it makes them feel more themselves. Don't tell people what they can and can't do. You represent an ignorant mindset.
Raimer Gel on July 10, 2014:
It all boils down to self expression.
Steve from Northern California on January 31, 2014:
As a man what I want is fashion freedom, for all persons, to express themselves for who they are without all these hurtful words and actions said by some persons.
I was born in the 1950's with societies rigid thought's on gendered clothing. I watched as women bravely wore pants in defiance of societies gendered clothing ideas. As much as I missed seeing a woman in a skirt or dress I was on their side for their fashion freedom and more importantly being treated as an equal and not the weaker gender. Women have been and still are redefining their feminine selves, what it means to be a woman, and allowing the freedom to show their masculine side without ridicule.
I believe it's now the men's turn to break out of the restrictive box society has imposed on us. It's OK to stop hiding and show our feminine qualities without ridicule. Clothing can be, and is for me, an expression of my creativity and my mood. I need that expression to remain mentally healthy.
But I'm tired of being told, by some, what I can and can't wear. I'm tired of being boxed into playing a role of a character some think of as a male. I'm tired of being called gay when I'm heterosexual. Mean while women are allowed to wear a much wider spectrum of clothing with little or no repercussions. The double standard is wrong on so many different levels.