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Eddie Izzard's Fashion Take

(ELLE, November 1995)

This is my take on fashion, and as a bloke who wears a dress when I want to, I would just like to announce casually that I am not a transvestite. in fact, no-one in the world is a transvestite. Let me quickly explain...

Women, as we all know, are entitled to wear trousers, jackets, DMs - whatever. There is no such thing as cross-dressing for women any more. Not since the 20s has anyone said, 'Ooh - look at that woman wearing trousers - she's a transvestite.' As far as women are concerned, the word has been totally removed from the social dictionary and I am here and now removing it on behalf of men. The word transvestite no longer exists.

It is, of course, illogical to have the word for one sex and not the other. We have all, over many years, seen fashion shoots of women wearing men'sjackets or trousers or boots. Now it's my turn to flip the coin. If you are looking at these images and thinking,'he's wearing women's clothes', just think about the men's clothes you're wearing. All in all, as we approach the year 2000, I think I am just wearing clothes.

When ELLE asked me to do a shoot for them wearing the new autumn fashions, at first I thought: hmmmm - could be dangerous. I could end up looking like a complete burk. But then, as a bloke who claims his total clothing rights with impunity, I thought - why not? I'm not doing anything this Tuesday. Having decided to model the autumn fashions, I then had to work out which would look fashionable on me (and would they have my size?). This sounds a natural enough worry for a bloke, but unfortunately the problem seems to be the same for women, too. My attitude towards fashion is a bit like that of a big-game hunter, who's walking towards a tiger, that may actually be an ostrich, which has got its own gun and is really pissed off.

People ask me some very weird questions. One of them is, as a bloke who wears dresses, where do you buy your clothes? Well, I know this will astound you, but I buy my clothes in shops! Yes, it's that crazy. I just go into clothes shops and say, 'Have you got this in a 14?' Then, invariably, they say, 'No, we don't stock size 14'. Not only that, but their size 12 is really a size 10. What the hell is going on in designers' minds? I'd like to ask the question, 'As a woman who buys dresses, where do you buy your clothes?' Why is everything either not stocked or sized too small? Is every woman in the world smaller than she seems? M&S is great. It seems to stock all the sizes they can think of. But so many clothes shops practise a sort of fashion fascism. Seeing as most of us on planet earth are trying to keep our weight down, why don't they make it so that you try on a 12 and it's too big for you - it's really a 14! Psychologically that would make the customer feel great and they would then buy all the clothes in the shop. I think it could be a winner.

Women do get treated much worse than men in the clothes buying area. Communal dressing rooms annoy a lot of women. After all, if we were all happy for everyone to see what we look like underneath our clothes then we wouldn't cover ourselves up with them in the first place. But seeing as I am one of the few people who try on clothes in changing rooms of every denomination, I think women need to know that there are no communal changing rooms for men - anywhere. Every single men's changing room that I have ever been in has had separate cubicles. It seems very much that the idea is: treat the men like individuals and don't bother with the women - they won't complain (maybe they don't even know). Well, now you do, and I think you should boycott clothes shops with no cubicles or go in with your own shower curtain and rail.

Another thing is that women's clothes, apparently, tend to be made more cheaply than men's, the idea being that women have a quicker turnover of clothes. Obviously women do have a much wider choice than men. A woman says, 'Can I wear this top? Does it go with this skirt? Should I just wear the trousers?' Men can only say 'How about a different shirt? Or maybe I'll go wild and wear a tie!' So women do have more choice but more angst as well (and your clothes are going to fall apart quicker).

In one of the pictures (in the magazine) I'm wearing a skirt which is just above knee-length - all the rage this autumn. Just above the knee is a bummer for me. Short skirts or long skirts seem to work, but just above the knee makes my legs look two inches long. Still, a whole group of fashion designers have double-guessed this length and there it is.

Essentially fashion is what people with great visual sense guess that people on the street will think they want to wear in three months' time. And we want these clothes because we think that the models look sexy in them, even though we know that they would look sexy in a duffel coat, whereas we just look like we're wearing a duffel coat. People bought puffball skirts - I rest my case

its ok for her to buy mens shirts to wear she wears pants all the time such a doubld standard. she cant understand why I like womans clothes.

Determining right from wrong and applying equality in some cases isn't always clear cut. We have large judicial and regulatory systems which strives to accomplish this. However, equality or equal treatment in the simple case you've described in not difficult at all. Anyone should be able to understand that with enough thought.

In the same way that I or another man way be apprehesive about wearing a skirt in public, I can understand to somee degree how a woman may have a similar feeling about her husband wearing a skirt publicly. However that right should be repected just as is her right to wear whatever she chooses. Certainly just wanting to wear a skirt or wearing one at home should not be an issue at all if gender equality and fairness in considered and respected. Imagine telling a woman that she isn't supposed to wear, or not wear, something. Such a man would be called a misogynist.

It's almost a puzzlement how much hiprocrisy exists in many women (feminist or not) and feminists (female or male). Women have claimed their privilege to wear whatever and whenever they choose citing equality and accusing men of forcing women to wearing long skirts, bras, girdles, high heel shoes etc.

Women should not be immune from the rules of morality (basic right and wrong) that men have to follow, When a man does or thinks in certain ways it's considered sexist, mis[ogyn]ist, hyprocritical, insecure, greedy, immature, juvenile, condescending, irrational etc. When a women acts the same way it's excused because women "think differently" or are more "complicated." Red herrings about hormones, virgin sacrifices as cited as excuses. There's absolutely nothing a woman can do, including committing murder, that haven't been explained in these ways.

One reason women feel free to think in such sexist ways, is because no one teaches them during childhood or any point in their lives that this is wrong. Mothers and teachers reserve those admonitions for males. Hence, women's (and many men's) view of sexism is itself sexist. Something is only "Sexist" if a woman don't like it or if it doesn't give women an advantage over men somehow.

Men need to start to point out misandrist sexism sometimes and demand some consideration and respect for ourselves. One of the sexist tactics used against a man who speaks up is to accuse him of "not being a [real] man," call him sexist, or accuse him of "whining" and "complaining." We have to be prepared to hear that hypocrisy. (Feminists even complain that men are bad because we try to "solve problems" when women complain.) Look at all the whining and bold faced falsifying feminists continually do. It's one thing to believe that somethings are masculine and some are feminine. It's quite another to have a completely different morality system (simple right and wrong) applied to each gender.