For the Wo-Man in All of Us

 My ultimate fashion fantasy has always been to live a day in the life of a well-dressed man. I’ve had the idea for years and I’ve never been able to shake it or make it happen, until now. What’s more, I didn’t want to just wear what a man would wear. I wanted to own it, work it and show how a strong, bold, sophisticated look can actually empower a woman’s femininity.

In the true style of Shireen’s Favorite Things, though, I didn’t wanna dress like just any old dude. I wanted drama like Julie Andrews in “Victor Victoria,” with the conservative trappings of Barbra Streisand in “Yentl” and, to complete the look, I wanted mystery, like the dapper man Kim Basinger meticulously dresses as in the sexcapade of a movie, “9 1/2 Weeks.” Mix all of those “For the Wo-Man in ALL of US” styles and Voila! That’s the kind of guy I wanna be, or at least dress like.

Don’t get the wrong idea: dreaming about dressing like the opposite sex isn’t about changing who I am, it’s about discovering a different dimension of my own style. I think that silly 80’s deodorant commercial by Secret summed it up best. I longed for a look that was: “Strong enough for a man, but made for a woman.” Heck, I’d settle for ‘made for a man, but I’m gonna sass it up with my woman-ness.’

Believe me, pinpointing my look wasn’t the problem. Picking the person to help me play the part was and waiting for the right trailblazing trend was just as important. The good news? Sometimes, the fashion stars do line up and getting gussied up like a guy can happen, thanks to the wonderful world of menswear and social media.

I ran into the fashion-forward stylings of Mr. Laz P (that’s short for Lazaro Peraza,) on Instagram. I connected with him through a friend of a friend. His fashion posts were always interesting, creative and classy. I knew immediately he was the kind of man that had enough moxie to bring out the male in me. I sent him a private note on Facebook.

I told him about my gender-bending, dress up idea and how female fashions for fall were finally tightening/tailoring up, after what seemed like a long period of bohemian style trends. We kicked around a lot of well-suited ideas. I especially liked the look of Robert Palmer’s back-up singers in the 80’s music video, “Addicted To Love.” I wanted to capture that aesthetic spirit and mix it with the gamine stylings of Woody Allen’s famous movie character, “Annie Hall,” played by the always sharp dressed “For the Wo-Man in ALL of US,” Diane Keaton.

Mr. Laz P. didn’t need any of my creative convincing or any of my help for that matter, he was more than ready, willing and able to take on the task of tailoring my inner testosterone. So, off he went with his own Victor Victoria vision.

After a barrage of brainstorming text messages between us, I invited Laz to be a part of the blog in its entirety, not just style it. Sure, his input was valuable, but I thought his presence in the blog pictures would be priceless. Though styled in the same basic cut and color scheme, Laz’s masculinity would allow my femininity to shine through.  

The shoot was surprisingly fun and scary at the same time. I knew what I was wearing, but I didn’t have time to try it on before the shoot because of my busy schedule. Laz was a pro, though, and after getting my specific measurements and asking me to buy a white button-down shirt, everything else just fell into place.

After I got into stark, minimalistic hair and make-up, I changed into my blue and white, textured, tight-in-all-the-right-places, Topman suit. Laz added the finishing touches by knotting my tie and perfectly placing my pretty little pocket-square. Then he perused my shoes and picked out a classic pair of black patent leather, pointed-toed, Mary Jane’s by YSL.

When I looked in the mirror I couldn’t believe it: after years of fantasizing, I was finally a well-dressed man (in a girlie kind of way.) I added my trusty ear cuff to lighten the mood. Despite being dapper, the suit still made me feel like a daring diva. Modeling in a manly way was a different story.

After Laz got into his get-up, we got on with business. After all, isn’t that what a guy would do? We practiced a few poses: how a man would stand, how he would unbutton/button his suit, but eventually we gave way to our own personalities. Laz projected the handsome, stately, well-dressed man that he is and despite the extra material in my nether region, I just had fun “For the Wo-Man in ALL of US.”

After the shoot, I was grateful to be a girl again, but I wanted to know a little more about Laz…

Shireen Sandoval: When did you first become interested in Fashion?
Mr. Laz P: I didn’t choose fashion per se. I just felt very connected and embraced by it and my personal style grew from there. Little by little, I started adopting the fashionista position.  

SS: What was your first big fashion purchase?
LP: Prada Shoes.
SS: A man after my own heart.

SS: You hashtag your IG and Twitter posts with #DressWellOrDieTrying, why?
LP: I use the hashtag in a cheeky manner. It’s my way of telling people to dress well or step up their fashion game. A dandy lifestyle (a man who places importance on physical appearance, refined language and leisurely hobbies, pursued with the appearance of nonchalance,) requires one to always dress dapper, with the best garments. It’s my inspiration really.  

SS: What type of clothing do you like to see people wear?
LP: I like to see people well-dressed in the whole sense of the word and never underdressed.

SS: What’s in style for Fall/Winter as far as suits for men and women?
LP: As far as suits are concerned: dark colors like brown, burgundy, and olive are always in. I suggest trying a double-breasted suit or three-piece suit to stand out from the competition.  

SS: What was the experience like of styling me like a man and shooting the blog photos?
LP: The experience with you was great! Nice, fun, brave and very professional at the same time.

SS: How would you describe my fashion sense?                    
LP: I see you as stylish; you fit in and stand-out at the same time.

SS: What’s the one thing you’d never be caught dead in?
LP: You’ll never see me in flip-flops. Unless I’m going to the beach, pool, shower or inside of my house.

SS: What is the one must-have item for every man in South Florida?
LP: A blazer is the single most important item in my wardrobe and I’m sure it will be in every man’s wardrobe, too.

SS: If women really want to dress or have the styling of a man, what is your advice?
LP: Embrace the look and feel good.

SS: You’ve fulfilled one of my fashion dreams by styling me as a man, what is one of your fashion dreams?
LP: My fashion dream is to be globally recognized and respected for my style.

I found that taking a cue from the opposite sex fashion-wise really did make me understand the wonderful part of my womanhood: that one’s confidence, sex appeal and style should radiate from within. What’s more, it made me appreciate that witty little saying, too, albeit slightly altered: “The suit doesn’t make the Wo-Man, the Wo-Man makes the suit” and that’s why “For the Wo-Man in ALL of US,” is one of my favorite things.  

Blog Wardrobe:
shoes: YSL (hers) Salvatore Ferragamo (him)
glasses: RetroSuperFuture
pocket squares: El Fashion Guru (hers) & Musika Frere (him)
ties: Tommy Hilfiger  

Styling by Mr. Laz P.
IG @MrLazP
Twitter @MrLazP
FB Mr. Laz P

Twitter @ShireenSandoval
IG @ShireenSandoval

photography by tod p/t4twophotography
Twitter @todp_t4twophoto
IG @Tod_p

Hair & Make-up by Odette Hernandez
Twitter @Odettehernandz
IG Odett_Herndz

Editor: Matthew Auerbach