The Man Repeller Talks "The Wifestyle Change"

As her first book of essays goes to press, Leandra Medine (aka the Man Repeller) reconsiders her post-wedding fashion vows

Photo by Anthea Simms

Photo by Anthea Simms


One thing I didn’t think upon getting married: that my style would—or could—change. One thing I definitely didn’t think upon getting married: that even in spite of the self-appointed alias I have adopted (see: Man Repeller), and the circumstances of my nuptials (he loves me and my harem pants), my style could become subdued.

In my about-to-be-released book of essays, Man Repeller: Seeking Love. Finding Overalls. (Grand Central Publishing, $28), the argument that strings all the stories together is based on the premise that the female memory is highly driven by fashion.

Ask me what I was wearing the night I met my husband and I will rattle off every item, down to the chummy rainbow beaded bracelet I’d made for myself earlier that summer. Ask me what I wore when we broke up, and with much despair I will describe the blue Marc Jacobs linen button-down blouse—I could never look at it the same way again—and the banal, slightly morbid black trousers that cloaked my body.

The same rule on memory jogging applies when considering the weeks— even months—before my wedding. In a bevy of oversize blouses and peasant-y skirts of the Free People/Isabel Marant variety, a colourful array of skinny denim and an even more colourful deluge of blouses, printed shorts and dresses I never should have come upon in the first place, I looked as nervous, confused and, I suppose, excited as I felt. Clothes didn’t seem interesting if I wasn’t pairing an excessive number of crystal bracelets with them. Shoes were only as noteworthy as the fundamentally different pants or shorts or skirts I paired them with. When I look back at those year-old photos now, I want to put a gun to my head. In the moment, of course, I thought I was winning at fashion, and that the world agreed with that assessment. So what changed?

While I still can’t really be sure, I have a theory. You see, I’ve always admired the women who can slip into a uniform and make it distinctly theirs. Take my mother—I can’t recall the last time I saw her in something other than a cropped pant and button-down blouse. It always looks right, and it’s certainly always stylish, but even more noteworthy is that the ability to settle on one outfitting formula has to mean you’re quite comfortable in your own skin. After all, isn’t fashion’s most victorious property that it allows us to change identities whenever we feel like it?

I used to think so. But now I just want to wear docile, tapered white shorts or ripped jeans with simple crewneck T-shirts–maybe when it gets colder I’ll concede to solid sweaters, too. I appreciate a single-sole pump more then I ever have before, and I can no longer be bothered to even try my hand at flats that aren’t white sneakers. Give me a streamlined blazer and I will wear it, but try to remind me of the stack of bracelets that once reached by elbow, the metallic, high-wasted flare shorts and a certain counter-print pink lame blouse and I might recoil.

It’s possible that my evolving style may just be a testament to changing fashion trends, but more interestingly, it seems like one year into my legal joining, the comfort and complacency of my fashion choices mirror those of my marriage, which has provided the launchpad to facilitate my own uniform—let’s just hope it doesn’t interfere with my blog (or the next book!). Then again, there will always be room to edit.

The Girlfriend:

Courtesy of BFA NYC

Courtesy of BFA NYC

The Wife:

Courtesy of Getty Images and Anthea Simms

Courtesy of Getty Images and Anthea Simms

While Medine has stayed true to some of her man-repelling tricks, her post-wedding look—ripped jeans, an overcoat and a sole well-placed accessory—is more restrained.

Pre-order the Man Repeller book today on Amazon, or find it in stores on Sept. 10