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Does wearing my boyfriend’s clothes make me look dumb?

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The question

Borrowing my boyfriend's clothes to wear – cool or stupid?

The answer

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This is such a complicated one. Your boyfriend's clothes don't, of course, fit you, which is the whole point. They swamp you, which makes you look so small and fragile – or accidentally really butchy. It doesn't matter, though: Men like the practice too, regardless of how it makes you look, because of the idea of it, the idea that you are boasting of your association with him and admitting that you want his goaty scent close to you. It's sweet and romantic. It works only with casual clothes, though: the odd dress shirt (particularly over slim jeans or shortshorts) or baggy sweater.

I have seen women trying to wear men's blazers or suit jackets, as part of a sort of costume, for formal events – a female answer to the dinner jacket, a defiance against the pressure to bare the shoulders – and it never looks anything like the sleek fitted tuxedos on Marlene Dietrich in old movies or like the ravishing narrow Le Smoking of 1960s Yves Saint-Laurent. Those are women's garments. Men's jackets are justtoo boxy and will make you look shabby and shapeless rather than powerful and masculine – Charlie Chaplin rather than Christian Grey.

Russell Smith is a novelist. His recent memoir, Blindsided , is available as a Kobo e-book. Have a fashion question? E-mail style@globeandmail.com.

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