Kirstie Clements: ‘Menswear’ evolves as make-up for blokes goes mainstream

We are witnessing fashion and beauty stereotypes being challenged, writes Kirstie Clements.

We are witnessing fashion and beauty stereotypes being challenged, writes Kirstie Clements. Photo: Getty

Designers at the pointy end of fashion continue to explore traditional gender constructs and remove the distinctions between menswear and womenswear.

The recent ‘men’s’ shows (already a seeming anachronism) in Milan and Paris proved that the more fashion-forward chaps in the streets are embracing skirts and frills and dresses and jewellery a lot faster than a lot of us thought.

Singer Harry Styles wore a lace skirt on the cover of Vogue USA. Billy Porter wore gold Jimmy Choo heels and a sweeping Giles Deacon skirt on the red carpet. Singer Lil Nas X rocked an elaborate gown at the 2021 BET Awards and US designer Marc Jacobs has moved from wearing kilts, to skirts, to mid-calf pink sheath dresses with great aplomb.


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It’s expressive souls like these who thumb their noses at norms and move the needle of fashion for all of us, and it is exciting to watch it evolve.

We are also witnessing stereotypes being challenged in the beauty world, with launches on the increase of make-up designed to target men – not the ones who are already out there living their best lives, wearing eyeshadow and lipstick and contour and creating their own make-up lines, but for the gents who are just after a little more help to look presentable after a big night and would prefer it if their products are specified “for men”.

There is a fab range from Chanel, no less, called Boy de Chanel, which not only features moisturiser, foundation and concealer, but eyebrow pencil, eyeliner (in black, navy and. brown) and two funky nail polishes (in black and white). It’s huge in the Asian market, and influenced no doubt by the fetching make-up worn by male K-Pop artists.


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Not every guy is Australia is ready for this kind of close-up however, which is where a brand like War Paint For Men comes in (available from Nique).

Created in 2019 by Londoner Danny Gray, the product range of primers, tinted moisturisers, bronzers, foundations, concealers and beard and brow gels has been designed to be invisible, the idea being that is more about ‘elevated grooming’, rather than obvious make-up artistry.

Apparently Gray suffered with body dysmorphia for more than 20 years and wanted to introduce beauty products for men that would boost their confidence with no stigma attached.


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It always amused me when my sons would come to me in their teenage years asking if I could help them cover up a pimple with my concealer.

They would then inspect themselves afterwards in the mirror muttering, “People will see I’ve tried to disguise it with MAKE-UP!!!”, and then scrub it off with great force as if it were some type of topical girl poison rather than an innocent camouflage cream.

It’s interesting that Gray called his line War Paint, as one would assume that men drawn to wearing make-up are reasonably ‘woke’ already and don’t need hyper-masculine tropes to entice them.

But then again, woman often refer to make-up as “our war paint”, helping us to boost our esteem, put our best face forward, and take on life’s challenges. We’re all in it together, really.

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