Gift Guide: ‘Tis (Always) the Season to Be Tomboy Femme

HOLIGAYS 2017 / Autostraddle

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My heart was sent aflutter when I saw that Autostraddle released a redesigned Tomboy Femme t-shirt, and then things escalated pretty quickly from there, and look at us now, an entire gift guide for the tomboy femmes of the world!

Tomboy Femme, in my opinion as a person who calls herself a tomboy femme, is a specific type of style that is not quite femme, but not masculine-of-center. We’re not quite androgynous, either. You can find the tomboy femmes of the world shopping in every gendered section of a clothing store, but we tend to gravitate toward comfort over fussiness every damn time.

Because tomboy femmes tend to hang out in a gray area, we can be hard to shop for. But worry no longer! Here’s the perfect gift guide for the tomboy femmes in your life.


Okay, so obviously clothing is a good choice because as a tomboy femme (or maybe as a Taurus? hard to say), I find it equally exciting and tedious to shop for myself. What better way to begin than with this adorable new Tomboy Femme tee. Soft, loose t-shirts are the bees knees. I also love soft sweatshirts for layering, and this Girls pennant one is basically perfection.

Also knees o’ bees: BLAZERS. Literally the easiest item of clothing in the world – wear to work, wear out, wear over a dress, wear over a t-shirt and jeans. I’ve been drooling over velvet blazers this winter season, but if you don’t personally agree velvet is the best idea, go with a camel/beige color. It will keep the corporate feel out of the piece and transition into spring and fall much easier, making it a perfect year-round jacket. My favorite place to find blazers is J. Crew, and I know there’s a lot of strong feelings about J. Crew Factory, but whatever, it’s affordable and cute, so I still buy most of my J. Crew stuff from there.

With shoes, you cannot go wrong with oxfords, converse or short boots. I really love the Tomboy Toes brand because they’re made for smaller feet, and The Wingtip Commanders have a classic look but the rounded toe keeps them from feeling too masculine. For short boots, think about finding a pair with cute details, like the zippers on the side of these Rocket Dog boots.

Pair a blazer with the Tomboy Femme shirt, dark jeans, and ankle boots for a really adorable OOTD.

Basic Accessories

Here’s where accessories gets tricky. Some tomboy femmes overload on jewelry to balance their menswear looks, and some tomboy femmes appreciate a more understated accessories approach. I’m of the latter camp, but consider the style of the human you’re buying for. I made a gift guide for Tomboy Femme Jewelry before!

Other accessories you should consider: belts, scarves and watches.

Belts: simpler the better. I prefer brown leather, and the vintage look of a braided belt feels timeless to me. I also think brown belts go with everything, always, and this is coming from a person who mostly wears black and navy. Maybe a belt is a weird present but listen, no one is expecting to open that box and find a sweet belt, so follow your heart on this one.

I think scarves are a pretty practical gift solely because I own 1000 of them and I still try to buy them whenever I’m at Target (a trait so strong that my girlfriend holds my hand when we’re passing through the accessories section and won’t let me stop). If you’re going to buy someone a scarf, go simple but well-made. When in doubt, go soft, warm and one color (or tartan). You can go knit or wool, I don’t think most people care as long as it’s soft. I love chunky scarves but consider who you are buying for.

Watches! Keep it simple. No bedazzled faces, no Mickey, no flair. I bought my gal pal a wooden watch for her birthday a few years ago and she gets compliments on it every time she wears it, so I’m feeling extremely partial to wooden watches. They’re just a tiny bit quirky but subtle, so they can be a standalone or layering piece. Apart from that, I recommend something with a slimmer band. I love vintage watches and finding one with character always works like a charm–keep it simple, though.

Accessories: Advanced

Okay, so maybe you want to gain some charisma points and give your tomboy femme something a bit more special than a scarf.

Think enamel pins, handbags and hats.

Enamel pins are an obvious choice. Everyone loves them. I love all of the pins that Autostraddle has to offer! Try to avoid buying enamel pins for any kind of chain store, because chances that they’ve ripped off an independent artist are HIGH.

As far as purses or handbags go, I think the more structured, the better. I tend to stick to structured crossbody purses that hold the essentials, since they go with every version of casual to slightly dressier/dapper. Unless you’ve seen them wield a handbag or they’ve specifically requested a purse, tread lightly here, soldier. I also sometimes just like to carry a small wallet, and these Hershel wallets are just the ticket.

Hats! Everyone loves beanies, so that’s always a safe route to go. Stay away from pompoms, we tomboy femmes have way too much dignity to be wearing that. I like a slouchy fit for my beanies, but you do you. I also like beanies that have a bit of character, like these clever sayings – who DOESN’T need a “Mercury was in retrograde” hat? For other kinds of hats, I’m in the dad hat camp, and I think they’re simple and easy and work perfectly for covering bedhead for the short-haired tomboy femmes out there.

Skincare & Fragrances & One Candle

Okay, so let’s say you don’t want to buy your tomboy femme person a scarf or pin or sweater. Maybe you want to buy your friend or gal pal or Secret Santa partner something a little ~*~fancy~*~. That’s great!

This may be straying into lazy femme territory (just kidding the limit does not exist), but I don’t wear a ton of makeup and most tomboy femmes I know and see seem to appreciate the ease of bare skin, so my focus has switched from makeup to Good Skin.

Nice sheet masks are just about the easiest gift you can give. Also, anything with an animal face is a good choice. ANYTHING.

I’m all about oils and serums, which may seem weird but stay with me here. They don’t smell. Squalene oil works on my face, my nails and my skin, so it’s the ultimate tool. Also as an aside: oils are the best thing I’ve found for my rosacea! Being 30 and sensitive and fair-skinned is a fun adventure! This little bottle is so awesome and useful. Biossance is the brand I use because it has a darker bottle (I read somewhere it helps with evaporation but maybe some weird marketing brainwashed me) and it makes me feel a bit glamorous (even the rose oil doesn’t smell strongly at all). Argasn oil and cleansing oils are awesome, too!

Fragrance is a hard thing to pin down for other people because we all have different noses, it turns out. But here’s what I do know about tomboy femmes: probably not florals. They kind of scream I’m-Trying-Hard-Here. Go for subtle. I love fragrance bottle packaging and pick it out based on the label (like wine!) so even if they don’t *love* the smell, they might like the look of it, at least. Try to buy rollerball perfume when possible, it’s way easier to apply and isn’t as overwhelming.

I’m strangely obsessed with these Maison Margiela Replica perfumes because most of them tend not to be overpowering, and I really love Fantasies: Dancing on the Moon. Also it says “Gender: anonymous” and it’s style notes are “Mysterious. Sedative. Luminous.” which basically describes a damn good time, if you ask me. If you don’t like this price point, get a sample size of it! There’s no shame in that game.

Fresh makes some of my favorite products, like their Sugar lip line, so I trust their perfume not to be awful. It’s fresh (ha!) and citrusy but also has vanilla and amber notes, so the florals it does have are balanced well.

Also yes, a candle. It literally says tomboy on the label, what have you got to lose?

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Hansen is the former DIY & Food Editor of and likes to spend most days making and cooking and writing. She teaches creative writing at Colorado State University and is pursuing a Masters of Fine Arts in her free time.

Hansen has written 189 articles for us.



    as a tall chubby girl with big feet i can’t buy a lot of the Specific Clothing Items but they def vibe with my style So Hard and give me super inspo for shopping at plus size stores… I’m on the hunt for the perfect blazer to wear with midi skirts and chunky boots for that practical vintage lesbrarian look.

    and like? the accessories & skincare are just *chef kiss*. I also exist within that hazy crossover area between lazy femme/tomboy femme and feel the prettiest when my face is fresh and dewy and my hair is clean and fluffy and I smell like books or some kind of baked good or a forest on a chilly autumn morning. my ideal fall/winter aesthetic is equal parts low maintenance, fluffy and adorably bookish, but also looks like she might double duty as a lumberjack in her free time? (on that note, something on my personal wish list is AXE THROWING LESSONS. they’re apparently kinda trendy in my city?! i just want to be able to impress cute girls!!!)

    • however i will say i personally Love pompom beanies, but that’s cuz i love to have One or Two fluffy cutesy accessories with any given outfit. i know the pompom does nothing for warmth in reality but it MAKES MY HEART FEEL WARM

    • Specific Clothing Items be damned, as long as you’re getting inspiration (and a blazer+midi skirt is such a cute combo) I’m happy and fulfilled!

      Also “adorably bookish” is a new adjective I long to embody. How do I start? Do I just carry around books because so far, so good.

      • <3 <3 <3 I feel very inspired indeed!! AND YES, THIS IS HOW I PULL IT OFF, MOSTLY, by always having several books, but also comfy-cozy and maybe slightly preppy outfits??? anything that looks like I put effort in but is also not too stiff and comfy enough that I can laze around like I'm in pajamas during long study sessions & goes nicely with my reading glasses is Perfect. I used to be a big miniskirt fan before realizing they ride up too easily and often without me noticing when I'm lost in a book and fidgeting, oops. a lot of my Fictional Style Icons are, like, Giles from Buffy or Hermione Granger or Various Doctor Who Companions – nerdy but also READY FOR ADVENTURE.

  2. Echoing the other excellent comments – as a Taurus with tomboy femme style, I feel so seen. Last night I got about 5,000 compliments on my olive velvet blazer and my little introverted almost-there androgynous heart exploded. ??

  3. I have been angsting about my closet for a while now but putting tomboy femme and lazy femme as slightly distinct aesthetic categories is super useful and I’m going to go home and hug all my blazers.

  4. I love this so much – I just have a bunch of random thoughts to share.

    OMG – your childhood necklace in the jewelry article is awesome.

    I’ve been thinking I’m lazy femme but I now think I’m mostly tomboy femme based on this article.

    I’ve started attending a bi support group and at my 2nd ever meeting last week, we talked about gender presentation. And I talked about feeling like I care more about ease and comfort in my presentation than anything else.And I met another queer woman who like me, doesn’t own a curling iron, flat iron or hair drier and feels proud of that fact.

    I’m with you on the pom-pom hats. My mom gave me two knit hats with pom-poms last year and I immediately performed a pom-pom-ectomy – she was not offended. She knows me and my style (although I do not feel up to explaining tomboy femme to her).

    And this may inspire me to try some non-girly skin care products. I have fair skin and mild excema and I mostly ignore it but would like to take better care of my skin.

  5. Yes. Good. I feel very seen.

    I have always prioritized comfort over anything else. As a child with sensitive skin, I was prone to ripping off clothes that didn’t feel quite right, often in public, often while crying, and while I don’t take my clothes off while crying in public, I still won’t wear anything that doesn’t feel good on my skin.

  6. Thanks for the ideas. I am going to share this at home.

    All I tend to get get is tools and such. Pretty ones at that but tools all the same. Last year I got a pink and black tape measure to go on the back of my tool belt that I got for my birthday with wide pink belt and matching suspenders. I’m not complaining I really love getting tools but sometimes I wish she treat my femme characteristics with the same intensity as my tomboy leanings

  7. I’m not sure what the fuck I am, nothing in any of these pictures appeals to me so I’m not this, but definitely not femme femme,

    Maybe lazy femme, I mean I totally want to reject all things masculine in all parts of my life, but don’t wanna put much work into it, that sounds like a good fit.

    too many categories, too confusing.

  8. Honestly I had no idea how much of a tomboy femme I apparently am until I started reading this and want literally everything.

  9. I once tried to order shoes from Tomboy Toes and they didn’t have the shoes I wanted in the very tiny size I needed, but I had the nicest email exchange with them and I was taken aback by how kind it was (especially because I likely wasn’t buying anything) and I just want ya’ll to know. It was just so nice!

  10. Love love love.

    Blazers plus enamel pins plus oxfords plus simple/understated is my jam

    I feel like I fall between tomboy femme and (my own made up identity aesthetic of) tailored femme-ish

  11. i’m not much for making a wishlist but holy hell…my current wishlist is just everything on this page

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