Pop Culture, Race & Politics

Fashion, Feminization, Or Who Gives A F*ck?

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One of my favorite pictures is from my 11th birthday party. I had a sleepover that year — 10 kids altogether — and the picture shows each of us in the living room, throwing awkward peace signs and making faces at the camera.

I’m in the middle of the frame, standing on the couch, and literally cheesing like…Chuck E Cheese. Since I’m standing, you can see my entire outfit: A white and gold MCM sweatshirt, a perfunctory pair of white Jordans, a Swatch watch…and some red and black spandex. And not baggy spandex either. These were f*cking yoga pants. If I’d had enough of a package then to be seen, you would have seen my entire package.

But, it wasn’t a big deal. If fact, I was the cool one. Some of you late-80s and 90s babies might not know this, but there was a phase from around 1989 to maybe 1991 where it was fashionable for guys to rock spandex. You’d see grown men walking down city streets with sweatshirts, gold chains, Adidas hats, and spandex pants. This was also a time when S-curls and tails were still cool. Those trends seem wack as the f*ck now, but I doubt anyone was saying that to these guys then.

Anyway, fashion changes almost as quickly as time does. By my senior year in high school, Timberlands, FUBU, Mecca sweatsuits, NBA/NFL jerseys, Hilfiger shirts, fatigues, and fisherman’s caps were what the cool kids rocked. And since I was a cool kid, that’s what I rocked. Now, I wouldn’t be caught dead in any of that. And even if I had an urge to, I wouldn’t be able to. The clothes I owned as an 185 pound high school senior were all bigger and baggier than the clothes I own as a 215 pound adult.

And, as I scan my closet now, I see a few pink and purple-ish polos, dress shirts, and ties. I also have a pair of salmon colored jeans. (I refuse to admit they’re pink.) These are items you probably would not have seen a straight Black man rock in 2000. It’s crazy to think about it now, but 15 years ago it was still taboo for men (Black men especially) to wear pink. Or purple. Or anything that had any hint of pink or purple in it. Now, you can walk down any city street and see legitimate, three-months-fresh-out thugs with purple sneakers and pink laces.

With all this in mind, I wonder if people like Lord Jamar are just naturally ignorant, or did they all just have the same accident that turned them into Guy Pierce from Memento? For those not familiar with Jamar, he’s a late 40s-something rapper who’s managed to snatch some recent relevance by deeming himself THE GUARDIAN VICELORD OF BLACK MALE HYPER-HETEROSEXUALITY AGAINST THE GAY-ASS SHIT AGENDA. Every time any prominent Black male does or says something Jamar deems “suspect,” you’ll find him on Vlad TV within 17 to 37 seconds saying something about it. (This is no hyperbole, btw. He’s the Usain Bolt of “defense against faggotry.” I actually think he lives in Vlad’s refrigerator.)

The latest Jamar rant is targeted at Omar Epps for wearing a leather skirt on The View. Marlon Wayans caught wind of this and jumped in to defend Epps, and this led to Wayans and THE GUARDIAN VICELORD trading insults on Twitter all day. 

Now, was it odd to see Q from Juice in one of Cindy Herron’s skirts? Yes, it was. Perhaps it’s a sign that Omar Epps really, really, really needs that Resurrection money to come through. Or maybe he lost a bet with Mike Tomlin. Who knows? But new fashion is always going to be f*cking odd. If it wasn’t f*cking odd, if it didn’t make people say “WTF is he wearing?” it wouldn’t be new fashion. This doesn’t mean that all fashion-related trends are related equal. I have long, passionate, and sweaty fantasies about giving thermonuclear wedgies to every teenager I see with 80% of his boxers showing. And I’m glad the spandex phase died before Alex Haley did. But that’s just the way things have been and will always be. Trends thought to be “feminine” or “masculine” now will switch roles in 20 years. And, 20 years after that, they’ll switch back.

And maybe that’s why cats like THE GUARDIAN VICELORD are so angry. They don’t give a damn about “feminization” or “the gay agenda” or whatever the hell else. They just really, really, really want Karl Kani to come back.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

Reminder: For the next ten days, you can purchase your own I Love Bougie Black Girls t-shirt via Teespring for the insanely low prices of $11.50 for a men’s shirt, $13 for a women’s shirt (don’t ask why the women’s shirts are more expensive, because I have no answers)

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and $24.50 for a hoodie.

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The campaign ends Sunday, March 23. So, if you don’t buy one before then, you, um, won’t have one.

Anywho, they’re available now, so go and BUY!!! and be fly.

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Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a contributing editor for EBONY.com. He resides in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes.

  • JayIzUrGod

    I refuse to listen to 40 plus year old men who refuse to let street dreams go. I’ve been around too many thugs and crack dealers in my lifetime to take ni gg as seriously on their opinions of alternative lifestyles when they can’t even spell alternative.

    With that said, its a bomb on both parts. Omar isn’t being trendy, Jamar aint being a thug’s disciple. Lose lose.

    Only skirts I want to see a man in is a kilt. Because only manly men who’d punch your teeth in while you talk can pull of kilts properly.

    • Sahel

      As the only confirmed Dothraki on this forum,i agree

      • JayIzUrGod

        So you have a horse and pillage villages while rocking long ponytails? Awesome

        • Keisha

          Long ponytails are cool. :-)

          • JayIzUrGod

            On the right people. There are meth heads with ponytails too

  • ratchet d-Ibaka

    As an African I shouldn’t even be commenting on this very topic, knowing good and well, culturally it’s appropriate for men to wear skirt like costumes/attire.

    However, I will say this, I’m as progressive as they come, but my progressiveness has fullstops, commas, apostrophes, hyphens, and question marks. When it comes to MY (read that well well oo, open your eyes and see the MY) man rocking a kilt, or skirt, it’s a get your senses together, lleh to the capital N OHHHH NO!

    • nillalatte

      LOL… I don’t know… I find Arab men quite attractive in their ‘dresses’ which aren’t dresses at all. Yemeni skirts are something of an art to wear as is the agual and gutra.

      • ratchet d-Ibaka

        Oh, absolutely. I love the agbada too in our men, mine too can rock that any time. I’m talking like a skirt, skirt. Like, what Omar Epps has own, and nothing under it. Like, c’mon son. That would be a sight for sore eyes. Men’s bodies do not have the shapeliness to rock skirts, without helpmates. I don’t care what anyone says. Aaaand, can you imagine my boo Ibaka in one?! Lawd, I’d stay fighting somebody. That ain’t Christ like. I wanna go to heaven.

        • Sahel

          Am narrowing down your A.O. Agbada ey

          • CaliMink

            Agbada. Nigeria or Ghana would be my guess…. ***back to the corners to lurk.***

        • http://www.twitter.com/IluminatiNYC Todd

          Hey, I had to hit up Google to refresh my memory on the agbada, and I am with it. Even though it is a skirt in the technical sense, it’s not a skirt like most people would think. And it can be dressed up very well. Here’s an example for the good people at home:

          http://www.tekaydesigns.com/post/Product984.jpg

          • http://vagabondaesthetics.tumblr.com/ Ricky

            https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BiThuUOCEAAkTZM.png

            Think they mean something like a sarong??

            • http://www.twitter.com/IluminatiNYC Todd

              No, African Mami meant the whole deal, not just the sarong. That’s more of a Polynesian thing. The pic I posted is a bit on the tailored side, but that’s the concept.

              Sidebar: think of all the places where men where skirts. Save for Scotland, those places are hottest that a motherf*cker. Before air conditioning, you needed to be well ventilated, ya heard!

              • MsSula

                While a sarong is a Polynesian thing, what Mos Def has on is a piece of Kente Cloth from the Akan tribe(s) in West Africa. It’s our small claim to fame. :D

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kente_cloth

          • Negro Libre

            This isn’t what typically is called an “agbada”, it’s the equivalent of an expensive suit in the west. It’s more like this:

            http://www.tribalmarkonline.com/images/site_images/guy-with-agbada.png

            • http://www.twitter.com/IluminatiNYC Todd

              Notice how neither what I posted or you posted looks ANYTHING like what Omar Epps put on. Dude put on a straight up skirt, period. :)

              • Negro Libre

                A lot of folks like to take other cultures out of context so they can back up doing something that is rather ridiculous. It happens the other way too, you can find a lot of pics of Africans dressing up in bomber jackets and timberlands in 90 degree weather, while they’re sweating like a buttered biscuit fresh out the oven.

        • Lea Thrace

          A fellow Naija girl perhaps?

    • JayIzUrGod

      I respect cultural garments, there’s never anytjing wrong with that. I don’t respect bougie fashion trends rich people make up and then try to make regular people think that sh it is cute. Nah uh.

      • ratchet d-Ibaka

        I respect both. Just don’t bs us talking about you are taking it back to the motherland. Just own it to being trendy and trying to keep up with the fashion times.

        • JayIzUrGod

          Then you are a better person than me, i have too much hate in my blood

  • nillalatte

    LOL…guys in spandex? I don’t even remember that! I know leggins were all the rave at one point, but for women. Guess I’m just not ‘into’ mens fashion. But, that twitter exchange is hilarious!

    • Sahel

      What do you wear under that burqua,does it help improve race relations

      • nillalatte

        LOL… Under the burqua? All me baby. ;) Now under a disdasha, well, it is proper to wear underwear, but I won’t say I *always* wore them. *blushes

        I have retired from discussions related to race. I, personally, have nothing to do with creating systemic racism nor can I change it. Folks just get upset and act all foolish when speaking on that topic with a white woman. Some anyway. Ain’t nobody gat time for dat!

    • Heavens2Murgatroid

      I remember dudes from DC specifically, wearing those thick yoga socks with buttahs, but never leggings or spandex

      • Kozy

        slouch socks. man… I remember those days all too well. I’m sure I could still find a pair floating around in the sock drawer if I tried.

        • Heavens2Murgatroid

          Is that what they were being called? Lol. I wanted to try it out, but that was not going to fly in Detroit

  • ri067953

    Mmm…I don’t know man. I mean if it’s a cultural thing I can understand. I mean, I grew up around Samoans who would wear Lava Lavas and I know they were tough mudder fudders. However, if you are doing it to be trendy, you are kinda playing yourself. I mean, it’s fashion and it is supposed to push the envelope and when I look at some of the things Dwayne Wade wears it looks like he is wearing a lady’s pants suite. However, I think when these guys look back they are going to say WTF!
    I don’t equate a man wearing a skirt to him being feminine but how many ladies out there would really want their man who works a regular 9 to 5 hitting the town in an ensemble that includes a skirt?

  • Sahel

    Man,i have seen teen boys wear leggings in London,NY and what not. And how many women do you meet in dresses and skirts these days. Things changed ever since Boy George and Prince showed up on the scene. If it’s a grown man or woman its a choice. Who am i to hold it against them. But i don’t dress like that and i won’t agree with anyone who dresses a male child in a dress or skirt. And am beginning to think aliens were involved in that Malaysian Airlines Boeing vanishing

    • TheOtherJerome

      “And am beginning to think aliens were involved in that Malaysian Airlines Boeing vanishing”

      Ditto. Now CNN is claiming that the supposed debris seen from the satellite photos aren’t debris at all. How the heck does a commercial flight just disappear?

      • Sahel

        It’s has to be aliens,they were nowhere near Bermuda so that rules out ghosts and time travel

        • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com/ Tristan

          I always felt aliens wouldn’t even wanna f ck with earth, 1/3 of us are lazy and entitled, the rest is impoverished… Nothing to see here folks

          • KKay

            I picture them tightening the airlocks, cloaking and cruising right on past.

    • Keisha

      I blame Lil Wayne for the boys wearing leggings…just because he does it doesn’t make it “cool”. Jeggings/leggings…tomato/tomato…either way, it’s a no go. I couldn’t take any male serious who thought that was an okay alternative to wearing pants.

  • TheOtherJerome

    I love that Marlon Wayans went in on Lord Jamar. I respect the Brand Nubian catalogue, but dude really needs to have a seat.

    • The Champ

      is it ironic that lord jamar is more famous for this than the music he was a part of?

      • TheOtherJerome

        LOL. I’m old enough that i own a couple of their albums. I’d prefer for them to be remembered as pioneers in the game. I swear, they never should have gave black folks twitter :-(

  • jamistew

    Unless you were Rick James or Prince, spandex was never the bizness for dudes…

    • http://www.twitter.com/IluminatiNYC Todd

      The lesson from those dudes? If you can f*ck the sh*t out of some woman, and look like you can pull out that fiyah, FIYAH!!! at any time, you can dress however the f*ck you want!

    • Tentpole

      I guess you don’t cycle. I had many until my cousins made them popular and the price went through the roof.

    • The Champ

      You must have missed that 8 month stretch between 88 and 89 when it was

  • http://vagabondaesthetics.tumblr.com/ Ricky

    Skirts generally look horrible on men. I do find it hilarious that so many men entrench their idea of masculine dress to a clothing period that lasted like 7 years though. And as mentioned below by ratchet d-Ibaka there are plenty of traditional clothing styles by men across the African Diaspora that would be deemed “suspect” by corner dudes. You should probably ignore anyone’s opinion who is stuck trying to relive 87-96 NY hood politics.

    • LMNOP

      A lot of men look really great in drag.

      • http://vagabondaesthetics.tumblr.com/ Ricky

        Agree to disagree.

  • http://www.twitter.com/IluminatiNYC Todd

    Lord Jamar comes off like he’s trying waaaaay too hard. Like I could see him in the DL thug club dancing up on some dude and getting broke off in the back. It’s OK to be gay my dude! It’s OK! Also, he’s on Koch Records after spending time with Brand Nubian…nuff said. :)

    Still, I remember the crack era and how dudes were looking like some straight nerds or pretty boys would straight beat your a$$ in or have your head cut off and deliver it to your mom. Then 10 years ago, we have the DL era where even the most terry cloth soft dudes were trying to be killers. Now we’re going back full circle. Fashion goes through circles. Just don’t take it that serious, my people.

    Though Q from Juice in a leather skirt does look goofy. LOL

    • The Champ

      yup. fashion, just like crack-related decapitations, goes full circle

      • NomadaNare

        Comedy Gold.

    • TheOtherJerome

      “he’s on Koch Records after spending time with Brand Nubian…nuff said. :)”

      Crazy right? It was shocked when i found out that “Koch Records” was owned by THAT Koch family! In their defense, they’ve put out some classics.

  • Tentpole

    Short memories allows every fashion nightmares a chance to repeat itself and the results are always interesting to those who do remember the first attempt.

    • The Champ

      Honestly, I’m just mad no one has brought back the starter jacket yet

      • Epsilonicus

        The issue is that too many people still have the jackets in their closet

        • panamajackson

          I still have mine. And I still pull it out (the jacket) on occasion. I had the Black Duke parka joint. IT goes.

          • Epsilonicus

            I had a UNC one

            • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

              Upvote for having the correct school’s jacket

              • Epsilonicus

                I think I got it because of the colors.

          • IcePrincess

            I had Miami hurricanes

        • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com/ Tristan

          Most dudes got a starter jacket and a jersey in their closet in case of comeback

      • http://missrosen.wordpress.com/ esa

        check out Outlaw Couture. Claw Money’s custom Starter jackets been out here for a minute ~*~

      • TheOtherJerome

        You know what i have? A closet full of throw backs. And as soon as that ish comes back, i’m right back at the top of the game baby!!!

      • http://www.twitter.com/IluminatiNYC Todd

        That’s probably going to be the next thing. Watch…