Yours, Mine and Ours: Should You Wear Your Lover’s Clothing?

Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik

It was just a few weeks ago when the reveal of Vogue’s August cover featuring Gucci-clad real life couple Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik announcing that they “shop each other’s closets” raised some ire. Vogue’s proposed notion that this is “a new generation embracing gender fluidity” was met with pushback — as is nearly everything these days. (See article) The argument that I’m almost unable to follow goes something like this: Now that there are more genders than Baskin-Robbins has ice cream flavors (and more bathrooms), the LGBTQ community has voiced concerns that since Hadid and Malik are on the hetero-normative (cisgender?) spectrum, this is heresy. A straight couple donning each other’s duds does not gender fluidity make.

Anita Pallenberg and Keith Richards
Photo: Getty Images

Be that as it may, hetero couples that are roughly the same size, and often of celebrity status have long been known to share and share alike from their SO’s wardrobe. Recently, when Anita Pallenberg passed away, her longtime paramour Keith Richards acknowledged that during the course of their relationship he would often attire himself in her stylish garb. “I would wake up and put on what was lying around. Sometimes it was mine, and sometimes it was the old lady’s, but we were exactly the same size so it didn’t matter. If I sleep with someone, I at least have the right to wear her clothes.”

David Bowie in a Dress
Photo: Daily Mirror Pix/Corbis

The entire early 70’s Glam rock era was about throwing gender to the wind. David Bowie displayed a feminized image with clothing choices ranging from various Kansai Yamamoto creations, to his Aladdin Sane catsuit, to a 1971 floral print Michael Fish dress that he wore to do press for “The Man Who Sold the World.” Prince did the ruffled shirts, high heels, suits in velvet, satin, and graphic prints, almost before Alessandro Michele was born. Even The Beatles wore some “foppish” sexually ambiguous fashions.

Diane Keaton as Annie Hall

Women borrowing from the boys is considered more acceptable in the mainstream although Hollywood glamorized it. From Marlene Dietrich, to Katherine Hepburn, to Julie Andrews in “Victor Victoria,” to Diane Keaton in “Annie Hall,” or Shelley Hack as the “Charlie” perfume girl– women appropriating men’s dress has long been considered fashionable. Back in my college days when I dabbled in modeling, one of my favorite “go-see” outfits was a white button down, bow tie, striped vest, wide peg leg cuffed trousers and a fedora — all feminized with a pair of Candie’s mules.

Molly Ringwald as Andie in Pretty in Pink

As the ’80’s progressed (or regressed), the trend of menswear for women remained strong although the man tailored shirt might be embellished at the neck with a jeweled brooch rather than a tie; the vest might be tapestry, perhaps Molly Ringwald in “Pretty in Pink” inspired. At that time one of my office favorites was a pair of high-waisted suspender pants. When I got married my husband’s button down shirts were fair game. I wore them tied at the waist with what would now be considered “mom” jeans.

Heavy leather jacket

In addition, from hubby’s closet I lifted a heavy weight leather jacket — it was a weird hybrid between a motorcycle and bomber style with extended ’80’s shoulders and a texture that reminded me of elephant hide. He had purchased it on the fly in England (hence not really the right size) before I met him and wore it on our first date. My son has since discovered the jacket which he wears “ironically.” He was also the beneficiary of an “accidental” Alexander Wang sample sale purchase. When I discovered that a shirt I had bought was actually from the men’s line I gifted it to him. Years later it is still his favorite.

Shelley Hack in Charlie Perfume Ad

As far as my husband purloining clothing from me? As I previously stated, we are nowhere near the same size so this happened only once. It involved a black knit oversized Joan Vass turtleneck sweater that somehow after laundry day, ended up in his closet. Not one to question an unrecognizable item of clothing he put it on and wore it until I identified it as mine and convulsed in laughter.

Mystery Date Game Box

All of this thinking about matching clothing managed to dredge up a long buried bit of nostalgia. This will (haha) “date” me as the original version came out in 1965, but does anyone remember playing “Mystery Date,” see Youtube video the Milton-Bradley board game for girls 8-14? The object of the game is to match up your outfit for various types of outings with the corresponding hunky mystery date including who is either going to the beach, bowling, skiing, or to a dance. One thing was for sure: you definitely didn’t want to be greeted by the sight of the unshaven sloppily dressed “The Dud” when you opened that white, plastic door much as you wouldn’t want to see him at your actual front door if you were actually old enough to date.

Mystery Date Dance hunk

In true Cinderella fantasy (and the fact that this game comes close to promoting pedophilia) I considered it a loss if I didn’t score the classic white dinner-jacketed dreamboat. The idea of having to spruce up “The Dud” would never have occurred to my tween self. I later learned that a certain amount of makeover magic often comes with the territory. The more polished dudes tend a tad metrosexual if not gay, by today’s standards. Maybe that’s why later editions of the game switched to line drawings rather than color photos.

Another change in the later editions: the bowling date was tossed down the lane in favor of the picnic date. To my knowledge there has not been a same sex or transgender version of “Mystery Date” (giving new meaning to the concept of “mystery”) however some deranged individual saw fit to post on YouTube an “expanded version” of the original commercial featuring the “serial killer” date. Call me crazy but I miss the relative innocence of the past. As for the $64,000 question at hand, I’d say that when it comes to today’s couples — if your boo’s shoe (or anything else) fits, why not wear it? It’s all about the option.


Laurel Marcus

OG journo major who thought Strunk & White's "The Elements of Style" was a fashion guide. Desktop comedienne -- the world of fashion gives me no shortage of material.

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