Most of the time it seems like fashion names are just words strung together. I mean, what even is soft grunge? How do I, a simple human, be Eldritch Goth? Why do we have pop punk and punk rock, aren’t those types of music?
(Side note: this is also my response to music type names. What even is jangle pop and how does it jangle? Is anarchic rock just rock that doesn’t believe in a system of government or is there a musical underpinning to the anarchy?)
Something I do have a handle on is Soft Masc and Hard Femme.
This is taking traditionally “feminine” elements and using them to accent “masculine” things. Think plaiting flowers into your beard, flower-patterned doc martens, pastel plaid. Lots of pastels and flowers and occasional paisley accents. Men’s shirts with lace detailing around the pockets.
The idea of taking something “masculine” and making it gentle isn’t really a new thing, but I am happily pleased with how mainstream it is becoming. Some days you want to look manly, and that shouldn’t disrupt your colour or pattern range. Some days, guys just want Fancy Lady Hair. Soft Masc makes this easier. (also, while all my pictures are of men, Soft Masc isn’t limited to men – you too can be Soft Masc. Rock your Serious Androgynous Clothes with your pastels and your patterns. Do it.)
Hard femme is a less recent trend, although not being super old I can’t say for certain when it started. At the core, it’s being feminine and tough. Lipstick and cleats, 50s-style dresses with spiked jackets and shoes, hot pink doc martens (or faux-doc martens) – it’s the art of pairing things that wouldn’t necessarily go together if you were just going for a feminine look or for something more punk, or finding items that are kind of both (Black Milk can do this quite well).
Wonder Woman was probably hard femme, now I think about it. A chest plate, cuffs that can stop bullets, battling the forces of evil, paired with a form-fitting bodysuit and deadly diadem make you pretty hard femme.
The term “hard femme” is often used in a sense that conflates a dress style with being queer, but this isn’t necessarily true. As I said in a much earlier post, dress style has nothing to do with sexuality. This post is about the aesthetic of these ideals, not anything else!
You can rock whatever style you like, and if being more like Wonder Woman is your jam, try hard femme.▼