Welcome to Outfit Anatomy, a new series on Man Repeller that aims to break down what we wear by answering questions like: How much did that cost? Where did you find that? Why did you buy it in the first place? Up today: Man Repeller’s production manager, Crystal Anderson, breaking down an outfit she wore to work last week.
I’ve been toying with the idea of proportions for the summer. It’s so easy to dress in fall and winter when I want to be creative and kooky, but clothing-wise, summer is the minimalist season of my maximalist nightmare (that said, #LoveSummerHateEverythingElse), which explains why I’m wearing this shirt: I wanted a big-ass blousy tee for summer but couldn’t find one in a store, so I went on Amazon and found this men’s one in size 5XL. It cost a grand total of $11.99 with shipping. Then I had the airbrushers at MR-Nival kick it up a notch, Emeril-style, with the black-girl slogan of summer 2019: “Hot Girl Summer.” Originally I thought I might wear it as a dress but…
I’m not sure if I believe in reincarnation, but if I do come back as anything, it’ll damn sure be these Natasha Zinko double-waisted pants. They are stupid, in a good way. I’ve been on the hunt for them on sale because they are expensive ($660) and I didn’t want to invest so much in such a niche item. Then I found them on Yoox for $130! And just got them in hand earlier this week. I expected them to be super tight and originally thought I’d wear them with a little bralette, but they arrived and were really baggy—not at all what I expected. This would piss off most people, but I like a good challenge (I consider myself something of a gay fashion MacGyver—MacGAYver, if you will), so I looped two vintage belts through both sets of loopholes. (In case it wasn’t clear, this is actually a single pair of pants.) I wore them to talk my friend Marjon was hosting with Dapper Dan; if ever there were a time to go full throttle, this day was it—and I’m happy to announce that Dap was tickled by my entire outfit.
Now before I get to the shoes and purse, lemme explain how the whole look came to be. Once I got the pants and learned that they were different from what I expected, I had to rejigger the outfit I planned and decided to lean into the dream outfit of my 90s teen self, hence the space buns on my head. I worried that it might look like a costume but once I had it all on, I got to see myself as the teenager that my teenage self so badly wanted to be. And that was fucking special.
Now, the shoes. The shoes! I have been whining about not having these Nike x Sacai sneakers for ages. I remember when they showed at Paris Fashion Week, and how impatiently I didn’t want to wait a year for them to go into production. When they launched, I was guns blazing on the SNKRS App, ready to give them all my money and they legit sold out in 30 seconds.
I appealed to anyone who would listen but had no luck until a college friend’s wife hit me up and told me she had an extra pair and would sell them to me at retail ($180). I went all the way to the Upper West Side and waited at a coffee shop for her to appear with the “goods.” It was like a legit backroom drug deal—nondescript brown bag, hushed hello, my awkward offering to buy her a smoothie (she said no) and then me off in the crowd, “goods” in hand.
I tried them on immediately and they fit perfectly and I felt cool. I’m probably a terrible hypebeast because I don’t believe in keeping my hard-to-get shoes in pristine condition; I like for them to look loved-in (not to be confused with lived-in)—to hold my secrets and look like they’ve gone places. I wore them to move into the first house that my partner and I got together, they deserved to be part of the memory.
Last: the bag. It’s difficult to wear and not at all practical, but hi, I’m Crystal, I don’t give a fuck about utility. When my mom was visiting, I wanted to take her to BAM‘s African Street Festival, which is basically just rows and rows and blocks of beautiful black people selling their handmade stuff. It was hot as hell the day we went, and we were getting ready to leave when a little stand caught my eye and I saw the bag. It’s handmade from old soda bottle caps from the hometown of the African man who makes them. I had a feeling it was going to be more expensive than I could afford, but I asked about the price anyway. The shopkeeper told me it was $60 and I was psyched. I had no cash, though, so my mom had to pay for it. I asked about their Instagram and the woman who sold it to me laughed and said, “No, we don’t have that.”
She told me the man who makes them doesn’t concern himself with those things and that he sells when he feels up to it, which made it even more special in my view. It also came with a little purse inside, hand-sewn by him, made of kente cloth scraps. The bag made me feel close to a place I’ve never been, but that holds the joy of my ancestors. I’ll never get rid of it.
In sum: I rarely have on an outfit of entirely new things, but nothing I’m wearing here has been in my possession for longer than three months. The total cost of the outfit is $378, and I gotta say, the money went far. Yes, each piece is sort of “Instagram-y” but I’m not one of those people who won’t re-wear a look because the world has already seen it. Trust me, you’re gonna see this one again and again (and again), and I can guarantee you that I’ll feel a different feeling every time I wear it. As told to Leandra Medine
Outfit Anatomy Identity by Madeline Montoya.