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Kyle Michael Upchurch wears angular jeans, abbreviate T’s, circumscribed jackets, and shiny, adherent sneaks. Occasionally, he advisers a tunic-and-leggings combo, too.

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Now, the 22-year-old stylist at Century 21 is agog to add an added burst of fashion-forward swag to his accoutrement by bond in a few skirts – and dresses.

And afore you ask, Upchurch said, he’s not gay.

“I adulation women,” he said emphatically, as he aloft eyebrows tweezed into division moons. “I’m experimenting with my style. This is art to me. It’s all about expression.

You don’t accept to airing too far in Center City to see that added adolescent men are attractive like they accord in women’s Vogue. And they’re not alone: They point to such macho celebrities as Kanye West, A$AP Rocky, Justin Bieber, Jared Leto, and Jaden Smith as appearance body mates. (Last month, Smith, son of Hollywood A-listers Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, donned a floral-print dress at Coachella.)

For these men, it’s not about cross-dressing (many of these clothes were advised for men), and not a absorption of their . Whether they are gay or beeline or transgender or acute – their female is not what makes them accept skirts over suits.

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Today, cipher would accept that a woman wears a pantsuit because she is a lesbian, but aback in the 1920s, they ability have. Experts say today’s menswear trends could be the alpha of that aforementioned evolution.

“Gender is abundant added of a amusing class than a biological and animal class with adolescent bodies these days,” said Nancy Hirschmann, administrator of the Alice Paul Center for Research on Women, Gender, and Female at the University of Pennsylvania.

The men say they alone are chargeless spirits, artists, if you will, who don’t appetite to absolute their accouterment options to acceptable and been-the-same-forever clothing: suits, ties, khakis, and polos.

“I wore this to New York Appearance Week, and I was mobbed,” said 24-year-old Ricky Cantando, of Malvern, as he showed off the alternation of a spaghetti-strapped Rick Owens atramentous gown.

“But I do it in a adult way,” he said. “I don’t abrasion makeup. I don’t barber my legs. I’m not aggravating to be a woman. In fact, I absolutely like actuality a guy. I aloof like the way this all looks.”

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Menswear has a women’s abrasion back the 1920s, back Chanel about created the suit. In the 1970s, Yves Saint Laurent alien Le Smoking – the women’s adaptation of the tuxedo. And today, women in pants are about added commonplace than women in red lipstick.

But, historically, men’s appearance hasn’t been about as acceptant to women’s wear. In the 1980s, David Bowie wore eyeliner, and Prince wore heels, but these looks rarely fabricated it offstage.

Then, in the aboriginal 2000s, afterwards Thom Browne started slimming bottomward suits, Paris-based Rick Owens showed men the ability of layering and angry the T-shirt into a knee-length tunic.

With anniversary consecutive division came added gender-fluid curve aimed at men. Shayne Oliver’s accepted abatement 2015 Hood by Air accumulating includes pleated dresses and tube skirts with thigh-high splits.

Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne – both called artistic admiral at DKNY aftermost ages – put their models in ankle-length, palazzo-style pants commutual with checkerboard tunics for their abatement 2015 Public School aerodrome show.

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The trickle-down to boilerplate appearance is austere business. Such labels as H&M and Zara advertise menswear leggings, tunics, and alike skirts for guys attractive to abate their sartorial edge. According to the NPD Group, menswear continues to be the fastest-growing articulation of apparel.

As added affidavit of pop culture’s accepting of women’s wear-like menswear, attending at our macho celebrities – not alone adequate cutting skinnies and arduous sheaths, but additionally acclimatized man bags, agitation man buns, and wrapping themselves in beyond scarves on date and Instagram.

Two weeks ago, Chanel appear photos of its pre-fall 2015 attack featuring archetypal Cara Delevingne and Pharrell Williams. The closing sits, legs crossed, in a brace of knee-high, forest-green suede boots and layers of continued necklaces, his cheeks contoured to perfection.

“When I saw Pharrell, I thought, why isn’t he in a dress?” said 23-year-old Stephen Michael Quick of South Philadelphia, who wears thrift-store skirts. “You are the face of Chanel this season. Throw some array in it.”

Still, while artists, creatives, and those who abutment them embrace menswear’s newfound freedom, others accurate disgust. On a contempo brilliant afternoon, Quick and Cantando absolved forth Eighth Street in skirts and were met with stares, glares, and arch shakes, mostly from the men they passed.

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“Clothing is one of the means we arresting our apotheosis of cultural norms, and that’s aggressive to people,” Hirschmann said. Back addition such as Jaden Smith chooses a dress but says he isn’t gay, those norms are again challenged on a common stage.

These kinds of choices become alike added analytical in the atramentous community, area acutely any appearance best can be advised abnormally in the media, in their community, and at home: Hoodies are violent. Baggy jeans are lazy. Accoutrement are uppity. Skirts are soft.

But acknowledgment to such NBA players as Dwyane Wade and Russell Westbrook, bodies are acceptable acclimatized to beneath adamant notions of uality, said Mark Anthony Neal, a abettor of African American studies at Duke University. In fact, he said, a added feminine, softer attending is a way atramentous men “can assure themselves from actuality targets.”

“As atramentous men, we are so restricted,” Quick said. “Any appearance accommodation we accomplish can get us killed, so we tend not to accurate ourselves. But that’s adverse to us, too. Very harmful.”

Sometimes, the affidavit men abrasion women’s accouterment is absolutely simple. Ishmael Jaramillo of South Philadelphia wears women’s Carmen Marc Valvo blazers over amid tanks because of his slight ability – he’s almost 5 anxiety tall.

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“Jackets are too broad, too long, and they aloof annoyance at the waist,” the 22-year-old appearance architecture abettor said.

Cantando, who is gay, brand how he looks in wedges – the acumen that, at 14, he assertive his mother to buy him a brace of Skechers. And 27-year-old Mark Freeman, of Bala Cynwyd, who describes himself as ually ambiguous, wants to prove that rappers can discharge agreeable blaze in skirts. Upchurch, of West Philadelphia, credibility out that medieval men – such as the sword-wielding characters in HBO’s Game of Thrones – and age-old Egyptians disqualified empires in skirts and kilts.

They accede that it boils bottomward to owning their identity.

“At the end of the day, I’m a man,” said Mark Freeman’s brother, Mickey Freeman, a gay, 29-year-old appearance stylist who about wears leggings beneath skirts – in all black, of advance – back administration clients.

“I accessible doors for women. I booty affliction of my own. But I grew up in fashion, and it’s about me actuality chargeless to dress the way I appetite to dress.”

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Published: May 13, 2015 — 3:01 AM EDT

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