My day in the new dress for men: Brave FEMAIL volunteer dons a replica of Gucci’s new £1,700 tartan frock designed to disrupt ‘toxic gender stereotypes’ – and encounters some VERY surprising reactions
- Italian luxury brand Gucci selling £1,700 orange check dress with ribbon detail inspired by ‘grunge ’90s looks’
- Long smock shirt features short sleeves, smock embroidery and a button front and can be styled with jeans
- Brave FEMAIL volunteer Simon Thompson tried it out around west London – with some surprising results…
Keep an eye on your wardrobes ladies – according to Gucci, the latest must-have trend for men is a dress you can style with jeans.
Last week the Italian luxury brand unveiled an eye-catching new addition to its menswear collection – a £1,700 orange check frock. The ‘Tartan cotton long smock shirt,’ which comes with mother of pearl buttons, satin bow detailing and a contrast Peter Pan collar, is inspired by grunge looks from the Nineties.
The fashion house advised styling it ‘over ripped denim jeans’, adding that it is intended to reflect ‘the idea of fluidity’ explored for its Fall Winter 2020 fashion show, and ‘disrupt the toxic stereotypes that mold masculine gender identity’.
Before you go adding it to your other half’s Christmas list, FEMAIL asked a brave volunteer to give his verdict on the controversial look and whether he feels it lives up to Gucci’s aspirations.
Presenter Simon Thompson, 32, from Southampton, donned a replica from ASOS for a stroll around west London.
Here he reveals what it’s like to spend a day in the dress, and his experience was not what you might expect.
Keen to see whether it lives up to Gucci’s aspirations, presenter, actor and comedian Simon Thompson, 32, from Southampton, donned a replica from ASOS for a stroll around west London
Last week Italian luxury brand Gucci unveiled an unusual new addition to its menswear collection – a £1,700 orange check frock (pictured)
When I first saw this dress, I was surprised to hear that it was made for men. In my head – as progressive as I am – it still looks like a women’s dress.
From the way it’s cinched in at the waist to the cut of the shoulders and the tartan pattern, it’s a feminine style, and while I agree we need to blur the lines, it’s not cut for men.
Even the slim male model in the photo doesn’t have a particularly wide frame, but it doesn’t look right.
The male and female bodies are so different and it’s a shame they didn’t cater to this more. It just didn’t fit properly; my chest looked absurdly broad, whereas most of the clothes I wear day-to-day that are made for men accommodate my chest and my shoulders.
When Simon first saw the dress, he said he was surprised to hear that it was made for men. ‘In my head – as progressive as I am – it still looks like a women’s dress,’ he admitted. Pictured enjoying a pint of Guinness in the pub
While Simon didn’t notice a great deal of reaction from passersby at first, soon heads started to turn in his direction – this group of charity workers appreciated his look
Simon said he wondered if people might have assumed he was dressed up for Oktoberfest and out on the razz, or that he’d lost his stag do – but it was a Tuesday morning
If you’re going to make something for men it needs to accommodate their figure much the same as the cut of a woman’s size six dress is going to vary from a size 16 or 18 dress.
The reception I received wearing it out on the streets of west London was really interesting. In the beginning I wondered if it was an invisibility cloak, because no one was reacting.
It crossed my mind that people might have assumed I was dressed up for Oktoberfest and out on the razz, or that I’d lost my stag do – but this was a Tuesday morning.
Then I thought, well, this is Kensington, there’s a lot of haute couture fashion going on and people here are generally pretty liberal. Had we gone to say, Lewisham, where people are traditionally more working class and tend to wear more stereotypical clothing for each gender, I wonder what the reactions might have been there.
But after a while, I did start to notice people’s heads turn.
In a local supermarket, Simon noticed several people do a double take – pictured browsing in the the tea and coffee aisle
Simon, pictured in the replica Gucci gown while browsing a food outlet, said the fit of the dress made him look uncomfortable
‘I definitely noticed a generation gap,’ Simon observed. ‘I strolled through the menswear section of a number of clothing stores (pictured), and while many of the older men in there were speaking a different language, I one hundred per cent know they said something about what I was wearing. I don’t think we’re going to change their minds any time soon’
One of the most surprising reactions I received was while walking past Japan House. The security guard came running out and started talking to me and, I’ll put my hands up here, he came across as traditionally masculine and I totally pre-judged what he was going to say.
So I was shocked when he exclaimed: ‘This is fabulous! I’ve not seen anything like this before, is this made for men?’
He went on to explain that they’d had kimonos in there a little while ago and they’d proved really popular. He added: ‘But THIS is another step on and I really like that!’
I guess a kimono can blur the lines because it doesn’t have a female shape to it – much like the sarong David Beckham once wore to the beach.
I was also quite bemused by the reaction I got from builders. When I walked past one or two, zero reaction – one even stepped aside to let me through without batting an eyelid.
Simon was bemused by the reaction he got from builders. ‘When I walked past one or two, no reaction – one even stepped aside to let me through without batting an eyelid,’ he said – but it was a different story when it was a group of them (pictured pointing and shouting)
When Simon strolled past one group of builders in Kensington, some were brazen enough to take out their camera phones and take pictures
Speaking about the reaction from the gang of heckling builders, Simon said: ‘It was like they felt they needed to make it clear they weren’t OK with it, when deep down they probably couldn’t care less’
But when I walked past a group of six or eight, I got pointed at and heckled; I heard one say, ‘Yo, he’s wearing a dress!’ and another shout, ‘You can’t wear that!’
It revealed that it’s only when you get a group of them together that the mob mentality and toxic masculinity can really show itself. It was like they felt they needed to make it clear they weren’t OK with it, when deep down they probably couldn’t care less.
I definitely noticed a generation gap, too. I strolled through the menswear section of a number of clothing stores, and while many of the older men in there were speaking a different language, I one hundred per cent know they said something about what I was wearing. I don’t think we’re going to change their minds any time soon.
But although younger generations, particularly staff in the shops, were definitely looking at me more than average, it was probably intrigue as opposed to distaste – more, ‘Oh what’s that guy wearing, is it men’s, women’s or what?’
Then there was a woman outside a café; I’d noticed her eyeing me up and down before she stopped me and said: ‘Can I ask you why you’re wearing a dress?’
While he sat outside a cafe and enjoyed a coffee, a number of people passing by couldn’t help but stop and look him up and down
Simon told how one woman outside a cafe who stopped to chat to him assumed he was a gay model when he explained the dress was Gucci
I replied: ‘Yeah, it’s Gucci,’ and she went, ‘Oh, OK!’ – as if it suddenly all made sense.
She went on: ‘But are you some kind of model or an advert for it… a gay model?’
While I tried to point out I was advertising a dress, not homosexuality, she’d clearly conflated the two things and assumed any man in traditionally women’s clothing must be gay.
It was really interesting having that conversation with her. I think she kind of settled in when she realised I didn’t particularly mind, as she then started questioning if orange was the right colour for me.
If a dress was properly tailored, I’d probably wear it out if I liked it. Heck, Muslim men wear long tunics called thawbs – which are essentially a dress – over jeans all the time, and Scottish men rock kilts.
Personally, I don’t know why men don’t wear open crotches – skirts make sense for blokes.
I wear drop crotch trousers a lot because it’s freedom. Us men have got junk that a seam makes uncomfortable, whereas ladies don’t. Skirts aren’t genital specific, so I don’t understand why there’s so much stigma around it.
Simon said if a dress was tailored for him, he’d probably wear it out if he liked it. ‘Heck, Muslim men wear long tunics called thawbs – which are essentially a dress – over jeans all the time, and Scottish men rock kilts,’ he explained
It wasn’t just the builders who whipped out their phones to snap a picture – this female passerby also couldn’t resist a cheeky snap of Simon’s frock
While Simon said he would willingly wear a dress out and about, he stressed it would have to be the right shape and cut for him
Simon concluded: ‘My question to Gucci would be, are you really trying to challenge gender stereotypes and show you can make dresses for men as well as women – or, are you actually trying to see what happens when you put a man in a woman’s dress?’
But I don’t like this dress. I don’t like the pattern, I don’t like the cut of it. It looks like I’m not comfortable, which is a shame because I could absolutely be comfortable wearing something similar.
A lot of my mates look at what I wear and go, ‘I couldn’t get away with that,’ and it’s because they’d feel self-conscious in it. The reason I get away with what I wear is because I don’t give a damn what people think.
My question to Gucci would be, are you really trying to challenge gender stereotypes and show you can make dresses for men as well as women – or, are you actually trying to see what happens when you put a man in a woman’s dress? Sadly I suspect it’s the latter.
Follow Simon on Instagram – @thatsimonthompson or @thatlondoncouple.
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