The day I moved to my apartment on Wall Street, I got catcalled. My former roommate and I were walking down the street to grab a much-deserved late dinner, and we walked past a gaggle of guys in fashion-forward suits standing outside an Equinox gym.
“Hey Tits McGee, you dropped something,” one of the guys called. I kept walking with my roommate, choosing to ignore their leers.
“Your phone, princess,” another one called. This time, I did stop and look down to see if my iPhone had slipped, but it was still in my hand. I felt like an idiot, and rushed around the corner to escape their laughter.
It was during that year I learned about a special kind of powerful jerk who resides downtown: the finance bro. He was like a more entitled, polished version of the jock, except with a ton of money. He ate salads and swore he knew everything there is to know about wine. He also treated women terribly.
All of those men — from the harried personal assistants to the CEOs — wore suits. And, no matter their role, they always had a certain kind of swagger. They all acted like confident buffoons around me and my friends in restaurants, bars, the gym and even the street.
I thirsted for that swagger, craving that zero-f*cks-given attitude. At first I thought my hunger was actually attraction these men, but it was something else. I wanted to be them.
Over the next few months, I replaced my heels with sneakers, my tight bandage dresses with leather pants. I might have worn a full face of makeup, but I'd also have on a pair of unisex joggers and a vintage men's tee — my uniform for nearly a year.
I felt powerful, like I could run the world, and uninhibited. Men's clothing is way more comfortable and easier to move around in. In a way, menswear made me feel more feminine than wearing a dress ever did.
I also felt sexier. I'm not just talking your average men's button-down after sex; I'd also take his boxers, his T-shirts, his hoodies and his kicks. And it made me feel hot, more attractive than when I wore form-fitting, low-cut anything.
More importantly, I felt important.
By putting on a version of what my male supervisors wore, I was placing myself on the same level as them. Men achieve positions of power without having to show off their bodies, but women are expected to flaunt theirs. A woman that wears baggy clothes is seen as frumpy, while men just look laid-back and relaxed. I was tired of show pony-ing for men.
I still wore red lipstick and fake lashes most days. But somehow mimicking the aura of a man — or at least, his clothing — made me feel like I didn't have to constantly apologize for things. When someone bumped into me, I used to apologize. When I wore menswear, though, I just got mad. I didn't uptalk as much, either. My voice felt more valid, more heard.
There was something both sexy and powerful in the role reversal. As women, we're constantly told to act like ladies but think like men if we want to get ahead. While I don't necessarily agree with the adage (I can think like a lady and still get work done, thank you very much), I do think that being in menswear made me feel more in touch with my own sexuality and more likely to speak up.
I just feel more like a boss bitch in my leather joggers from OAK and my unisex kicks. But even if menswear didn't make me feel all that, it would be worthwhile it just to feel comfortable.