ONE OF MY BIGGEST FEARS growing up was that other kids would see me as overly feminine. The lilt in my voice. The tilt in my wrist. The way my hips move when I walk. Can anyone see through me? These fears came true in 6th grade when a group of laughing boys came up to me and said, "Brian Gee has a V."
It would take another six months and countless repetitions before I found out what they meant by those five words. When I finally figured it out, I was left with a permanent scar. So what does that experience have to do with my style? Turns out, everything.
That experience taught me that I wasn't what other people thought I should be. "Real men" don't talk softly or let their wrists bend or allow their hips to move. I had come up against the walls of masculinity and failed the test.
Our clothing and style is gendered in similar ways, and a lot of men, my past-self included, are afraid to wear non-traditional garments (or even dress well) because they're afraid that others will perceive them as gay or feminine or metro or whatever-the-hell-other "unmanly" noun you can throw in there.
All it really exposes is our own fears and phobias. The type of fears and phobias that I felt as a kid. The fear of not fitting in. The fear of rejection. The fear of ourselves. So we play it safe and stick to the rules.
I think it's time we face those fears. Style is about expressing a piece of who you are through what you wear regardless of what someone else might think. Put another way: style is about confidence. There are no firm walls to personal expression. There are only fears of what others might think. The response to fear is confidence.
That's why I styled this ensemble for myself. I'd just seen the ever-amazing Mitch Grassi performing Jolene alongside his fellow Pentatonix, Dolly Parton, and Miley Cyrus on The Voice, and I nearly died over his outfit. It's bold. It's bright. And it's confident. The pants give off a silhouette akin to a long skirt despite having two separate legs. It reminded me of how much I like the skirt-over-pants look. So I decided to make it my own.
The ever-amazing folks at MEYVN introduced me to the two key pieces in this look: the Button Shawl by Engineered Garments that I'm wearing as a skirt and the N. Hoolywood Pullover Hoodie. The pullover keeps things minimal up top. I tried on some button-ups and jackets in lieu of the pullover, but they all looked bulky through my midsection where the shawl was folded over. The pullover hid this perfectly, and it kept me incredibly warm.
The shawl itself is a gorgeous knit wool blend with multiple buttons down the edge. It's one of those garments that's insanely versatile. Wear it like a cape? No problem. Fold it around into a scarf? Have at it. Button it around your waist for a contemporary take on a skirt? Don't think twice. I exaggerated the angle of the fold to create the diagonal, and I think that really makes the look.
Paired with simple, slim-fit jeans and a gorgeous cast brass crystal necklace by jewelry goddess Therese Kuempel, this is a statement look that expresses the fact that I'm confident and unconventional with a penchant for minimalist design. It's also a bit of a middle finger to those guys who caused me so much pain so many years ago.
My point is this: I'd like you to join me in finding your inner-confidence by discovering and wearing your skirt. Maybe it's not an actual skirt. Maybe it's that look you really like but you're afraid to try. I'm challenging you to stare that fear in the face and tell it no. You won't be afraid today. You're going to be who you want to be, no matter what any else thinks. If we all make that single, conscious choice, who knows how many boys and girls may find themselves living in a world where they never again have to fear being honest about who they are.