by Eugene Rabkin

"I am straight. This must be stated for the purpose of this article, because it’s about my history of buying women’s clothes. While in our non-binary times articles on crossing the male/female sartorial gender divide are in abundance, they tend to be written by gay men. These go hand in hand with media missives about so-called “new masculinity” and directives to men to carry purses. Publications like Dazed, self-appointed leaders in gender fluidity, are full of pictures of young slim boys in women’s dresses and high heels. If such a media landscape feels alien to you, I understand. Created with best intentions, to break stereotypes, by now it seems to be perpetuating a stereotype of its own, that women’s clothes are necessarily those that possess inherently feminine attributes and are reserved for the gender-fluid. But women’s clothes run a wide gamut, and if individuality is indeed a cornerstone of modernity, then the degree of masculinity / femininity that an individual is comfortable with should be set by the individual and not by societal forces, of which the fashion media is one.

I bought my first piece of women’s fashion in 2003. It was a pair of Ann Demeulemeester combat boots that was famously modeled in the September ’03 Vogue US by Nicole Kidman. They were made of buffalo leather, with zippers on each side and straps around the ankles. I would have dared anyone to say they somehow made me look feminine. On the contrary, they made me feel as confident in my image as any piece of menswear could have.

It takes a certain comfort with oneself, perhaps even courage, to cross over to the women’s department. This isn’t your domain. You are entering not only a different physical space, but a different mental space. A trespasser, you leave behind societal norms, and that is no small task.

And so I hovered at the edge of the women’s shoe department at Barneys, looking at a sea of Manolo Blahniks and Carrie Bradshaw wannabes. But, somewhere in there amongst the plush velvet, stockings, and pedicures I knew there was the best pair of boots I ever laid my eyes on. So, I crossed over. I don’t remember the details though it’s tempting to write that I broke into sweat and my pulse raced and stuff like that. What I do remember is a sense of euphoria that washed over me upon leaving the department store clutching my prize like an eagle his prey. I wore those boots to death and I still have them."

Full article on SZ-Mag