When Elliott Sailors moved to New York City in 2001, the tall blonde began modeling. But a few years ago, she made an unusual midcareer switch: She started to model menswear. When I spotted Sailors on the red carpet at Monday’s premiere of Big Sur, hosted by Brooks Brothers and SK-II, she was wearing a men’s suit and holding hands with her bearded husband, Adam Santos-Coy. I asked her about her groundbreaking role as a woman who models menswear.
When did you decide to model menswear? “I was doing well, but my career was moving in a commercial direction. And I was missing the art that can be a part of high fashion. Also, I really get to relax in this role. I love men’s clothes. I enjoy dressing my husband. And now I get to wear more of the clothes that I love.”
How have people responded on shoots? “Honestly, not everyone wants a woman at their casting. So we let them know ahead of time. Especially because, looking at my pictures and with my name already being Elliott, some people assume that a man will show up. So we let them know that this is a female modeling menswear.”
What was your earliest work modeling menswear? “For Alexander Nash, the suit company here in New York. They’ve been amazing. We did a video shoot as well as a photo shoot. And there is more to come.”
How do photographers respond? “It’s pretty cool. The photographers can’t believe it. They come in, and say, ‘We’ll see how it goes.’ And every time, they end up saying, ‘Wow, this is incredible!'”
Do you have to bind your breasts? “It depends on what the client is looking for. Sometimes, for the fit of the suit.”
You no longer have long blonde hair. Has that changed how people treat you? “Since I got this haircut, I’ve loved the approachability that apparently comes with it. Before, as a tall blonde girl in Manhattan, people sort of put me in a box and thought, I know what those girls are like. And now they’re coming up to me and having conversations, posing questions.”
Who cut your hair? “Thorin Decatur, now of Decatur & Sons, did the cut. I had downloaded some pictures that I liked. The idea that he brought to it was a little Boardwalk Empire.”
How does your family feel about your new role? “Pretty much everyone thinks it is amazing.The only person who doesn’t agree is my mother. She doesn’t feel that what she calls ‘messing with gender roles’ is in alignment with her beliefs. And I respect her feelings, because she’s still loving and very respectful.”
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