Find Your Fit is a style advice column helping real queer people find the masculine, butch, and tomboy styles that make them look and feel hot.
I thoroughly enjoy your column, and find your advice quite helpful. I’m wondering if you can help me, specifically, though.
Here’s my sitch. I moved to a new state last June, which has led to a series of lifestyle changes. I’ve finally truly embraced myself and the fact that I’m pretty masc-of-center. These lifestyle changes have also led to some significant weight loss. As a result, I have no warm weather work clothes that fit, but also do not know how to dress in keeping with my dapper MoC self once it warms up. Historically, I’ve worn a lot of flowy tunic situations, but that’s just not me anymore (and really never was).
I’ve got my casual style and winter work style locked down. Casually, my winter style has been described as “longshoreman at leisure”—comfortably fit sweaters, thermal shirts, beanies, jeans, etc. It’s practical. In warmer weather, it’s a lot of solid color shirts (often black) or raglans and jeans, which I accessorize with a decent collection of snap-backs and sneakers/street shoes.
My winter work style has been described as “fancy gay Englishman.” I wear a lot of bow ties and regular ties with sweater vests and slimmer-fit sweaters. I also just wear sweaters by themselves or with a scarf. To change things up, I’ll wear a tuxedo vest with a normal tie, or sometimes will wear a blazer and a tie. I also wear a cravat with a sweater once a month, but not more than that because I know it is a bit…extra. In my current position, I can get away with wearing jeans sometimes as long as the top looks professional, but I won’t be in this position much longer and will likely have to wear real adult pants at the next one.
I run hot, so none of these looks will really work once the temperature gets over like 70. And I really have nothing left from last year except for one open-front cardigan, which I actually really love. I’m okay with layering once I get to work. I just have no idea what those layers should be!
My sizes are currently in flux, but as of yesterday, I’m a woman’s 16 and a men’s 36/30 in pants. I kind of don’t have hips, and have disproportionately slender legs for the rest of my body. Unless I am wearing skinny pants or slim fit pants, it looks like I’m wearing sweats. I also have an abnormally long torso and huge boobs, and thus have a very hard time finding women’s shirts that are long enough. I just wear men’s, where I am generally an XL.
There’s one other complication. I have a phobia of buttons. I feel like the natural answer here would be button-up printed shirts and polos, but those are out. I can handle buttons on the front of a blazer, but not the sleeves, and not on a shirt (it’s weird, I know). All of my collared shirts are snap fronts.
I don’t really have style icons. I just like to look neat and clean, and perhaps also a bit stylish. I feel like summer is the season for colors and patterns, so even though my winter wardrobe and casual wardrobe are heavy on the solids, I’m quite okay with really changing things up. I like the idea of having a lot of interchangeable pieces, and since I’m basically starting from scratch, that’s also quite necessary for now.
Can you help me? I really have no idea what to wear…
This is great! Honestly when I ask for style icons it’s because it’s usually hard for people to describe what they want, so they work as a reference for me to shape up and inspire the fits. You were so specific about what you are and aren’t looking for that style icons be kind of redundant and we can definitely work with all of this. I think you already have a really good base style and a strong sense of what works for you. In addition, you also like things similar to what I personally look for during the summer, so this is, again, GREAT to work with all around!
For this fit I started to think through the things you already have that we can build on — in particular, your dark tees. Solids are great for the summer, and knowing how and when to use dark colors is important. Just like you I run VERY hot, so even in the spring and fall months I stick to t-shirts and jackets.
I want to begin with my rule of thumb of wearing or styling a plain t-shirt to pull off a not-so-casual outfit. First and foremost, make sure your tee is ironed, doesn’t have any holes, and if you have pets or any other fluffy situations, that it doesn’t have any fur or lint on it. Second, think contrast. If you’re wearing a t-shirt, regardless of how you tuck it (or don’t), immediately go to a more formal or structured bottom. Summer doesn’t just have to mean florals and patterns; it can also mean color. Introduce light-colored trousers to your wardrobe to dress more seasonally. I’ve picked these trousers from Topman for you; the color is desaturated enough that it should blend well and provide the breathability your darker-colored tops don’t during the summer. In the same scheme of lighter colors/pastels, I’ve picked these Chelsea boots from New Republic. You can dress them up or down; they work well with jeans, chinos, trousers, anything really, and they add that bit of style and edge to break apart your outfit a bit. This stone color is super in during the summer as well. You can accomplish clean, but also stylish. If possible once in the office, layer this fit with a light jacket; pairing a jacket with a tee is always an easy way to dress it up a bit. I’ve picked this Harrington Jacket from ASOS for you; it has a bit of shine and this should break apart the black of the tee and add dimension. Harrington jackets, or any sort of worker jacket or overshirt, are very versatile just like the boots and can add another little bit of class to any fit.
Moving onto the next fit, I wanted to work with knit. Last summer knit polos and short sleeve tops started to trend a bit; I wanted to build you an outfit where you can work with cuts and patterns to achieve formality while also remaining creative, simple and practical.
For this fit I wanted to start with the light knit t-shirt from Mango. What I love about pieces like this is that the detailing around the waist, neck and sleeves break it apart from a regular striped tee without sacrificing the practicality of one, and the knit gives you texture and class. You can pair this with a pair of black trousers (or another dark color, maybe blue). I wasn’t sure if you owned any so I picked these ones from Zara for you as well; they’re kind of a chino/trouser hybrid so they’ll work great for the hot summer months in terms of breathability. If you can get away with it and since it’s summer, wearing formal wear with trainers/sneakers is really in, so I picked a pair of Nike’s for you. If you already have some sort of trainer you like a lot, any of those will work well. For this kind of fit the shoes are a great way to introduce a bit of play or color. In terms of accessories I wanted to keep it simple, so I picked this black watch from ASOS. In all three of these fits, I focused on keeping your accessories (bag, sunglasses, watch) the same so you can see how you can pretty much pair them with every outfit, which I think ends up being important if you’re building a new wardrobe.
For the final fit I wanted to finish off by merging all the concepts I’ve been talking about (layering, patterns, texture) into one final boss of a fit, this one relying heavily on texture.
I put together this outfit around the tee — this top from I Love Ugly has so much texture it immediately catches your eye. Focus while you’re shopping for tops in the summer on getting pieces or tees or tops that have something else to them. Simplicity doesn’t need to mean boring or lazy. You can wear this top tucked in or not; just like in the first pic I’d pair it with some sort of trouser/chino situation. I’ve picked these skinny olive green ones from Zara for you. I think you have amaaaazing hair, and this color would look fantastic on you. If you have any sort of semiformal black dress shoe, that would work great if you wanna dress this fit up, or any sort of simple leather shoe would work. For a casual summer Friday I’d go with a sneaker. I picked this one from New Republic because I love their shoes — I love that they’re affordable, good quality and have payment plans/options. You can layer this fit with the Harrington Jacket from the first fit or any sort of breathable overshirt for an extra layer or if you plan to wear the fit all day long and it gets a little colder at night!
For help finding your fit, write to mika [at] autostraddle [dot] com with a little about yourself, your personal style icons, your size(s), and three or four selfies in your current favorite outfit(s)!