The internet recently discovered that the British online retailer ASOS has started to sell chokers for men (which are basically the same chokers as they sell to women, only they’re selling them to men) and literally couldn’t contain itself. People tweeted things like: “Chokers don’t belong on men” and “ASOS have started selling chokers. Can already tell 2017 is gonna be a shit year.”
This morning, Matt Lauer of the Today show jokingly “revealed” that he’s been wearing a choker underneath his suit and tie for years. His co-hosts couldn’t contain their laughter.
Of course, as with most things like this, ASOS isn’t actually the first to bring back the choker trend.
For women, the choker started to make a comeback in 2015 in the form of ’90s nostalgia (think Vivienne Westwood, Britney Spears, and Claire’s) as seen on celebrities like Rihanna and the Kardashian clan. For men, chokers started appearing on the runways in July at the shows of Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Hood by Air, and even Rihanna’s line Fenty by Puma.
But the trend goes even further back than that. We can thank rockstars like Iggy Pop, Jimi Hendrix, and Mick Jagger, who helped to make them popular in the 1960s and ’70s. Musicians Prince, Lenny Kravitz, David Bowie, Elvis Presley, and John Lennon also wore them. And we can’t forget Jared Leto’s nostalgic ’90s black chokers that he wore on the TV show My So-Called Life. More recently, Harry Styles, Young Thug, and K Pop star Taehyun have been pictured with the accessory.
Even with all of this history, publications GQ and Esquire made it their duty to take down the newly resurgent menswear trend before it could even become popular, writing articles titled, “Stop Men’s Choker Necklaces Before They Start” and “Sir, Please Step Away From The Choker Necklace.” Both articles assured readers that breaking gender barriers in fashion was great—just not when it takes the form of men wearing chokers.
“If a friend of yours starts showing up to the bar in one of these, kindly tell him he has lost his damn mind and cut the shit before things get out of hand,” GQ writer Jake Woolf advised. He continued, “And while we understand that gender in fashion is more fluid than ever, this is one area that is best left to the ladies. Plus, us guys have had our version of a choker necklace forever, and it’s called a necktie.”
Just to be clear, if you tell men what trends, fads, or accessories are or aren’t for them, that’s a pretty retrograde form of gender policing. Seriously, look at these pictures of Harry Styles and tell me men can’t wear chokers.
Also, not to be that person, but women wear neckties too, and look badass doing it.
Esquire writer Scott Christian’s critique of men wearing chokers was more of a straightforward fashion critique, until he told men which “women’s clothing items” were acceptable to wear.
“Now let’s be clear, our stance on this is not a gender thing. Rather, it’s a ‘you will look ridiculous wearing this’ thing,” Christian wrote. “If you want to push the boundaries of men’s fashion, fantastic. Try wearing a dress. Or score yourself a pair of Balenciaga high heels. Just please, for the love of God, step away from the choker.”
Aesthetically speaking, the uproar over men’s chokers “looking bad” is a bit confusing when you consider that things like velour tracksuits have made a comeback without getting the same ultra-hostile reaction. Even haircuts literally modeled after Nazis don’t seem to provoke this sort of reaction. It’s clearly not just about the “fashion”—and that’s a shame, because, with the right attitude (or the right amount of blind confidence) there’s no reason men can’t pull off the choker look flawlessly.