Evidently, Tough Girl Chic Is On The Rise

Remember last month when we reported on the New York Times’ piece on androgyny in modern day street style? (Since gender bending in fashion is nothing new, we also took the opportunity to name our favorite cross dressing style icons.) This month, the newspaper’s style editors are clearly still fixated, because now they’re asserting that the ladylike look is dead, or as they cutely put it, the “damsel is in distress.” But more astutely, they’re putting their ink-smudged fingers on a trend that all the cool girls have been aware of for a long time: Your average 20- or 30-something has absolutely zero interest in dressing like Megan Fox. As the Times says, “If the old ideal of sexiness was the shoulder-baring voluptuousness of Scarlett Johansson, the new sexy is the European fashion editor Carine Roitfeld in a black blazer and tall vixenish boots.” It’s all about authenticity. And sure, anyone who’s been paying attention to fashion’s new direction knows it’s not about the juvenile, candy-coated images we see in American women’s magazines, and it has everything to do with street style thanks to Scott Schuman and other blogs that allow users to pore over more accessible style icons. Call it a backlash to the picture perfect, overly styled celebrities — Who wants to aspire to their style? These people can’t even dress themselves! — or the airbrushed images that insult our intelligence, but it just isn’t cool to look too studied these days.

So for hip, stylish women, the new look is androgynous street smart with a dash of grit and sharp metal edges. The preference is a step away from the kind of matchy (and poorly masked advertorial) way models are made to look in glossy magazine photo shoots and a big leap toward how the same pretty young girls look off-duty: Ratty skinny jeans, worn, oversized t-shirts layered beneath still larger hoodies and blazers, lots of hard metal jewelry, battered motorcycle jackets and scuffed leather boots. Why so tough? Maybe they simply get sick of all the unwanted male attention. Or from a more feminist standpoint, feel the need to project power from a desexualized platform against the backdrop of a profession that objectifies them to the nth degree. And while not all of us are models, most young women can certainly identify with feeling the need to step out of the pink stilettos into combat boots in order to be perceived differently and hopefully, taken more seriously.

But perhaps there’s another, more superficial reason for the trend away from ladylike and stifling styles: baggy, worn out tough girl clothes? We’ll be the first ones to say it: They’re just plain comfortable. [NY Times]