At first glance, Adam Jockle is a typical bro. His viral fit check videos feature mostly American Eagle and Hollister — the stores you ogled during high school trips to the mall with friends. He’s just a regular guy, so why is he so special? For starters, his persona: We idealize men who are this boyishly cocky but still approachable — especially if they dress like boys, too. Jockle is a fitting masculine ideal for us Gen-Zers who grew up with enemies-to-lovers romance novels and Timotheé Chalamet. He has an endearing Cali-bro way of talking, punctuated by long arms that awkwardly gangle outward like peeled layers of string cheese. His authenticity has attracted such a rabid fan base, chortling back “shirt looks sick bro” and “nice find” in his videos’ comments.
This contagious rage-enthusiasm for Jockle’s style brought his videos to me: a masc-presenting bisexual whose FYP rarely interacts with straight men. There he was, dipped in white linens and divorced dad shades, the poster boy of every Pinterest board titled, “Masc Outfits for Spring.” An embodiment of male privilege and effortless masc style, his OOTD made me rattle with gender envy.
A stark contrast for the many visions of femme (you can be a tomato girl, a rat girl, a blueberry milk nails girl, a love-grows-where-my-rosemary-goes boho girl), stereotypical white mascs (masculine presenting femme, non-binary, butch lesbians, or transmasc people) dress like dads on vacation. TikTok has declared a “masc shortage,” and to band all of us together, masc creators are streamlining our uniform via thirst traps that plunge even the straightest of femmes into curiosity. Masc fashion has evolved alongside men’s fashion, and both borrow aesthetics from Chicano fashion, Jimmy Buffet, and 1940s/Cary Grant movie outfits.
The idealized masc image starts with a tiny sports bra (preferably Calvins) which displays their toned arms. On top is a vintage tee or lightweight button down shirt that either billows open to frame their stomachs (preferably abs) or hangs over some variation of a utility pant or shorts. A collection of fine-line tattoos also doesn’t hurt. You can picture this masc quickly building your Ikea desk or picking you up an iced matcha latte on their morning run. They are friendly but still sturdy and protective — the perfect balance to make you feel attended to and safe.
Embodying masculinity is an alluring positive of dressing masc. The button-downs and chinos are so refreshingly loose, it makes me wonder why femme clothes have to cling to all of our little crevices! Everyone on this planet should have at least one pair of men’s boxers or basketball shorts in their closet — the breathing room is euphoric. Wearing them, I understand male privilege more deeply than I ever had before. It’s the same self-assurance that Jockle imbues in his persona as he goes out for an oat milk latte. Of course, he receives backlash from male podcasters over his embrace of fashion (the females can’t know your game, bro!!) or his love of milk substitutes. Still, he can comfortably contradict patriarchal standards and be greatly rewarded and objectified for it. Some people even believe his whole account is a satirical parody of a hype house bro — the type that vlogs on TikTok but proves his soft side by knowing all of the lyrics to “August” by Taylor Swift. But Jockle’s personality doesn’t have to be staged: awkward guys are having a moment. Let’s not forget Nathan Fielder has a chokehold on bisexual women.
While I hoped that if I donned masculine clothes, I would be empowered with Jockle’s confidence, it only made me feel even more detached from my body. At a deeper level, I was coming to terms with the vulnerability of being in a relationship with a woman. I tossed away my miniskirts and high boots — there can’t be two of us in a relationship. I felt that if I reinforced the masculine/feminine dichotomy of straight couples, I could trick those who looked twice at us together in public into acceptance (even though presenting as more masc may further out me). But most masc fashion inspiration (on par with general fashion) is curated for long and lean figures. I am not. So I scoured the internet for fellow teddy bear mascs who don’t have curves but dad bods.
A la Billie Eilish, I sized up in all of my masc clothes, hoping my body would flatten like a Lego man’s underneath them, but my boobs are in the Ds, and I have an ass that pushes out the outline of any slouchy chino. Once thought to be an alluring, enviable feature, my hourglass shape became a setback. I felt like a masc impersonator, pressured to choose between my body and my sexuality — and even more alarming: my gender identity. But how dare I, a burgeoning enby, think in such binaries about clothes just to fit in with the other masc enbys on TikTok?! I miss the outfits that celebrated my shape, for all their lady ridges (I mean ruffles, the most non-binary chips, have them, too). I remember walking down city blocks in my mini skirt and high boots, thinking I could easily step on someone’s neck. If Jockle tried to step on anybody, I’m afraid he would slip on the ribbon in his boat shoes.
I won’t ever have the masculinity Jockle represents because I wasn’t socialized to have that same male privilege. I will never feel as careless as a golden retriever man. But I don’t think I actually want to be that oblivious. Other style icons interpreted androgyny in their own way: Lauren Bacall, Katharine Hepburn, and Greta Garbo were some of the first women celebrities to wear pants. But they wore the shit out of their pants: gorgeous palazzos tucked in at the waist and layered under a delicately draped button down. They present an alternative way for me to be masc: a Cate Blanchett in Ocean’s 8 gay, a dark academia gay, a Shiv Roy trousers gay.
There is no right way to be masc: If you like dad shirts, stock up on them! If you want muscle tanks, you can build my Ikea desk. Of course, I will always romanticize the mascs who look like their job is beach. No one (much to my girlfriend’s horror) is getting rid of my basketball shorts and vacation shirts anytime soon. But no matter what I wear, I’ll always be mentally ready for Margaritaville happy hour.