Man, I dress like a woman

Leslie Schelat

Women’s pants are becoming a popular fashion trend for young men

Wearing women’s jeans has come into fashion due to the fit and style. Dan Kline, sophomore communications major and two-year wearer of women’s jeans, shops at Gabriel Brother’s due to its large selection and low prices.

Credit: Jason Hall

When Dan Kline walks into Gabriel Brothers to look for new jeans, he knows just where to go.

He heads to the back of the junior’s section, where racks of denim and corduroy pants stand in rows and looks for his favorite kind – size seven flared jeans from American Eagle.

“For one thing, it’s the scene,” said Kline, a sophomore communication major who wears what he and his friends call “girl pants.” “If you look back at big rock bands like (Led) Zeppelin, they wore tight jeans. It’s just today’s style that they’re girls’.”

Kline describes the typical girl-pant wearer as being into emo or underground music, involved with an emo or punk band and a frequent shopper of thrift stores.

Their style, along with Kline’s, tends to favor tighter-fitting clothing accessorized with handkerchiefs, one or more studded belts, Vans or Converse shoes and longer, shaggy hair. Most are slender and create a slim silhouette with their tight T-shirts and flared jeans.

“You’d never find some preppy kid who shops at Hollister wearing girl pants,” Kline said.

Kline started wearing girl pants almost a year ago, and now they are the only kind of pants he wears.

Kline was heavily influenced by bands such as The Used and Taking Back Sunday, who can often be seen in concerts and music videos wearing tight-fitting pants.

“It was like monkey see, monkey do,” Kline said. “I saw people on TV in rock bands wearing tight pants and I thought maybe I should, too.”

Although he was originally influenced by famous bands, Kline finds that he continues to wear women’s jeans because he likes the tighter fit. He does not like feeling as if his small frame is “floating” inside his jeans.

“I just like the way they fit,” Kline said. “I like everything to be form-fitted. You have a shape.”

Before he started wearing them, Kline, who is in a local band, asked his bandmates if they thought it would be weird if he started wearing girl pants. At the time, they met his question with laughs, but now most of them wear the pants also.

Geoff Martin, sophomore psychiatric nursing major, started wearing girl pants in 1999 when he was a freshman in high school. He said he liked the way some of his old jeans fit more snugly, so he stole some of his sister’s jeans and hasn’t looked back since.

“Girls will give me their pants,” he said.

Martin owns five pairs of girl pants, which he alternates regularly with one pair of jeans from Express Men. He did not buy any of those pants himself, and like Kline, his favorite pair is from American Eagle because they are the most comfortable.

For some men, like Martin, wearing girl pants is strictly an issue of comfort, not who else is wearing them.

“I think they’re more comfortable than boy’s pants,” said Martin. “I don’t like baggy pants at all.”

In Martin’s opinion, jeans can’t be too tight, either.

“There’s no way the kids who wear the ones that are skin tight are doing it because they’re comfortable,” he said. “Some guys are trying to fit the image.”

Meghan Meeker, Kline’s girlfriend, likes when he wears girl pants, even though it means sometimes owning matching clothes.

“It’s weird he can wear my jeans, but I like it,” said Meeker, a freshman French major at The College of Wooster. She often goes shopping with him to help make his decisions easier.

Unlike girlfriends, parents may be less-than-thrilled with the fact that their former football-playing son has made his wardrobe gender-neutral.

“He doesn’t like it,” Kline said of his stepfather. “My mom, she doesn’t care. She grew up in the ’70s, so she’s used to it.”

Martin’s dad’s opinion is more than indifferent – he agrees with his son’s unusual taste in clothing.

“My dad thinks girl pants are comfortable, too, so he doesn’t care,” Martin said.

The comfort trend may be catching on. In recent years, tighter jeans have become popular in designer clothing lines.

“If you look at Hedi Slimane, he’s the men’s wear designer for Yves Saint Laurent, he spearheaded the trend for super skinny pants and everyone else copied,” said Noel Palomo-Lovinski, associate professor in the School of Fashion Design and Merchandising. “It’s all about Hedi Slimane. He’s the guy.”

In the Midwest, mostly only upscale stores and designers offer slim-fitting jeans. Therefore, when men cannot buy slim-fitting jeans in their own departments, they are forced to wear women’s jeans to get their preferred fit.

However, this can often pose a sizing challenge for men, who are used to jeans being labeled with waist and length measurements.

“They’re too long,” Kline said as he walked out of his dressing room at Gabriel Brother’s and looked down. “Girl sizes are stupid. They never work!”

Martin, however, stressed the unimportance of being male and wearing female’s clothing.

“They’re just clothes,” Martin said. “Wear what it feels best to wear.”

These men are more like girls than they think, though. They still worry about sizes and what fits.

“I like these, do they have my size?” Kline asked as he found a pair of tan corduroys he liked. “Do you think I can squeeze into a five?”

Meeker thought that question crossed the line as she ran away giggling to one of Kline’s bandmates to pass on the funny story.

“I’m never going to live that one down,” Kline said sheepishly. Sure enough, laughter erupted several racks over as Meeker relayed his comment to their friends.

But Kline understands it’s a risk he takes as he blurs the line between masculinity and cross-dressing.

“It happens,” he said with a laugh.

Despite the laughter and jokes, Martin said he doesn’t care either.

“They’re just pants,” he said. “It’s not a skirt. People would probably notice that more.”

Contact general assignment reporter Leslie Schelat at [email protected].