Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
Leandra Medine's book, Man Repeller: Seeking Love, Finding Overalls, includes accounts of attending a Modern Orthodox high school with a strict dress code, losing her virginity to the man who would become her husband, and how she "struggled" with the decision to marry at 23. Every essay is titled after a piece of man-unfriendly clothing that plays a role in the story that follows, like harem pants, a Canadian tuxedo, and the ripped jean shorts that got Medine thrown out of her great-grandmother's hospital room. It sounds a little like Love, Loss, and What I Wore but with clogs.
Perhaps naturally, given the premise of Medine's blog has always been humorously exploring the impacts of her clothing choices on her romantic life, there's a lot in the book about the opposite sex. Her father, she says, couldn't bring himself to read the whole book; he was put off by some early racy stories. (Her grandfather, for his part, called it, "OK for a first book.")
In one essay, Medine recounts the moment where the definition of "Man repelling" was crystallized in her mind — during a shopping trip to Topshop with a friend where Medine picked out such items as Tencel harem shorts, a white muscle T that read "Mom," and a floral-print denim vest:
She continued, 'How can you possibly like those shorts? You're a man repeller, a bona fide man repeller.' She said it so matter-of-factly — like it was ridiculous that I could have possibly suggested my love life was a failure for any other reason; like the answer was so natural and I was being naïve. We had dabbled with the notion of man repelling — that women so invested in their sartorial conquests are bound for a life of little companionship but many shoes.?But it had never hit so close to home.
The two later wrote up a formal definition:
man re.pell.er [mahn-ree-peller] —noun: outfitting oneself in a sartorially offensive way that will result in repelling members of the opposite sex. Such garments include but are not limited to harem pants, boyfriend jeans, overalls (see: human repelling), shoulder pads, full-length jumpsuits, jewelry that resembles violent weaponry and clogs.
Women's Wear Daily visited Medine at home to talk about the book ahead of its official release on September 10. Medine lives in the East Village with her husband, Abie Cohen. Cohen is a banker who works at UBS; his grandfather was a founder of Duane Reade. She writes about meeting him (she was wearing the harem pants), losing her virginity with him, and their decision to marry young: "I realized that if I were a 23-year-old girl getting married and I wasn't struggling with it, that would likely mean that something was either massively wrong with me or that my brain is made up of delicately wrapped almonds that serve perfectly as party favors."
The Man Repeller blog, meanwhile, is still expanding, following Medine's vision to move the site beyond its personal-style blog roots into a lifestyle destination. Medine now has two employees and is adding a third this month.
— Jenna Sauers