The Discerning Butch: A Gift Guide for the Masculine-of-Center Person In Your Life

It was my birthday a few days ago, so happy birthday to me. My original plans for the day were eating chocolate ice cream for breakfast and then testing Philadelphia’s public nudity laws by naked suntanning on the back deck where I am house-sitting. I ended up going to Little Pete’s and drinking pear cider while watching Nora Ephron movies, which, if you ask me, is a damn good way to celebrate 22 years of existence.

And this brings us to an important point: say you wanted to buy me a belated birthday gift. Say you were looking for something that would complement my edgy haircut and boyish charm. I’ve been told more than a few times that lady-bois such as myself are a hard bunch to buy for, so I’ve done you the favor and compiled the ultimate gift guide for all the masculine of center people in your life. Androgynous? Check. Super cool? Check. Gets you mad queer street cred? Checkity check. Plus, the best way to get your boi crush to make out with you is to give them items that will increase their already impressive swagger.

An important thing: you may notice that there are no fitted items of clothing on this list. As many a masculine of center person will tell you, there is no hell quite like the mens fitting room. Shopping for masculine clothing when your body is anything but masculine can be an intense and daunting task, and a highly personal one. Even if you know your boi’s sizes, I highly recommend another gift idea. There are so many less triggering presents out there that are even cooler than a pair of shorts or a good dress shirt, and they don’t run the risk of being an upsetting item to try on.

1. Boi Jewelry

I call it Boi Jewelry because it’s not your uncle-who-runs-a-car-dealership’s-man-jewelry and it’s not your this-is-kind-of-androgynous-from-Forever-21-jewelry. I’m really into wood and leather right now because it makes me feel like I’m drinking an expensive glass of cognac while sitting on the stump of a tree I have just felled with my axe. It also communicates that I am simultaneously down to earth and classy. I’m kind of obsessed with this cardinal skull necklace and braille message ring, too.

2. Lighters

You don’t need to be a smoker to own a lighter. A lighter is just one of those neat things that comes in handy for a million reasons. Are you lighting a bunch of candles in anticipation of a romantic evening? You need a lighter. Are you at a concert and need to show your enthusiasm? You need a lighter. Also if there is a cute girl standing outside the bar who asks if you have a light, you’re going to need a lighter. I love lighters because the quality ones cost enough to be stand alone gifts, and if you refill them, they last a lifetime. Think of all the memories your boi and their lighter will make together, the places they’ll go. You haven’t just given them a thoughtful present – you’ve given them a best friend for life. Also, I have a lot of feelings about this PBR Zippo because I am “that guy”.

3. Flasks

You don’t need to drink alcohol to own a flask. (Do you see the pattern here? Okay, good.) You can fill your flask with juice, or chocolate milk. All of a sudden you are 200% cooler drinking your chocolate milk in public. Take a swig of your chocolate milk flask during class, and you’re the mysterious boi with a tortured past. Girls will be crawling all over you to uncover your dark secrets, but you won’t be able to teach them the ways of the secular flesh because you’ll be too busy refilling your sexy pin-up flask!  Or you can get a space flask because space! Note: do not actually fill your flash with chocolate milk. Chocolate milk doesn’t rinse out of the flask particularly well and it will probably make whatever else you put in there taste a little funny. Unless you like your whiskey with a note of Nesquik. You do you.

4. Watches

What time is it? Time to be awesome. A classic timepiece is the ultimate accessory. It’s classy because it shows you take the extra effort to look at your wrist instead of lighting up your iPhone. It dresses up an outfit and gives you that extra air of professionalism that maybe your undercut has been undermining. And it comes in a wide range of styles that communicate everything from sensitive bookworm to important/powerful businessperson. I received this watch by WeWood for Christmas and it’s pretty much the greatest. I also used to rock a Nixon and stand by that brand forever.

5. Bow Ties and Ties

What do gentlequeers love more than cats and brunch? Being dapper, duh. It’s pretty hard to get more dapper than a bow tie, but it’s equally hard to go wrong with just about any form of neck accessory. Let’s face it: they make ladies melt, and they turn an already adorable queer into freaking Prince Charming. A high quality bowtie lasts a long time, is super convenient for every possible occasion your boi could encounter, and it shows that you’re drawing attention to their neck, a.k.a. you want to leave hickies there. I am a bowtie homo myself, but isn’t this tie just the absolute cutest? I want to throw a tea party and give these away as favors.

6. Eyewear

Remember how you didn’t need to smoke or drink to own a lighter or flask? You don’t need a prescription to own eyeglasses either. Thanks to something called a “hipster,” it’s totally cool to wear glasses as accessories. Your boi can mix and match to accessorize the “dapper professor of gender studies” look, or the “semi-douchey record store queer” look. Sunglasses are rad because they have actual health benefits like protecting your eyesight, and come in a wide range of styles, including frat boy chic and Gatsby-era nerd. I was given these Persols for my birthday and they are perfect. I’ve been known to lust over this look, too, if only because my inner Rachel Maddow just wants to get out and play.

7. Hats

Remember when Paige wore the beanie on Pretty Little Liars? We were like, oh man, she is definitely so gay now. Hats are super gay, and that’s why they’re just the best. Fedoras? Unavoidably gay. Beanies? You 20-something queer, you. Snapbacks and fitted caps? Cocky but charming rascals. Trucker hats? Okay, so you’re *that* dyke at the pride parade, but you own it. Hats are great for edgy haircuts because edgy haircuts have bad days, too, and hats are like concealer for the top of your head. I have an incredibly large and unnecessary amount of hats, but I have no regrets whatsoever.

8. Backpacks

What else is your boi going to carry all of their school supplies and erotic novels and sex toys in? Backpacks remind us of our childhood, which remind us of the nineties, which remind us that nineties nostalgia is in right now, so backpacks are cool again. They’re probably the handiest thing you could get a queer, since they’re perfect for bikes, utilitarian as shit, and look great with a couple carabiners clipped on – one for your set of keys and the other for your nesting girlfriend’s keys! I absolutely positively swear by my Duluth pack and take it everywhere with me because it a) still looks so great and b) can hold everything I own. Give your boi something that says “I want to explore you like Dora” or “I want to be attached to you via harness just like this backpack.”

9. Kicks

I once met a guy who told me he was an “unapologetic sneakerhead.” I thought he sounded like a douche, but then I realized that I totally knew what he meant! Kicks are an essential part of every boi’s wardrobe. Why do you think we get so many comparisons to Justin Bieber? Because that boy likes his kicks, and we like his kicks, and his kicks look even better on us than they do on him. Kicks are a fantastic present because they’re in that splurge price range, and damn do they look good. I have been harboring a massive crush on these Jeremy Scott x Adidas ones for a long time, but since my money tree didn’t make it through the harsh weather of college, that’s probably not happening any time soon.

10. Music Accessories

Speakers, headphones, and music players are my go-to gift for all of my friends’ birthdays. Why? Because everyone loves music. Name one person you know who doesn’t listen to music and enjoy it. You can’t, because they don’t exist. They will never exist, their existence is a lie, and no one should hold their breath waiting to meet a music hater. Also, let’s talk bank and the making of said bank, because music accessories are typically in that price range just above what you’d spend on yourself, but not too expensive for reasonable presents. Plus, they can look as nifty as they sound. Wearing cool headphones in public is totally a thing, and come on, look at this speaker hidden in a log. Isn’t that the best thing ever? Don’t you want to buy it right now? You should, because the boi in your life would totally be into it.

Runner-Up: Swag 4 Phone

We live in an age when phones are basically an extension of ourselves – if I go out and realize I don’t have my phone, I feel as if I have forgotten to wear pants, or as if someone has forcibly ripped my arm from its socket and beaten me repeatedly with the limb. Our phones say something about who we are, and I want my phone to say that I’m either super gay or super cool. My current iPhone cover does both, as it features Joan Holloway, which shows that I’m into fantastic television and super fantastic ladies. Or maybe you’re into Miyazaki films, or Batman riding a dinosaur. Either way, guess who is happy? You, and the lucky boi with new phone swag.

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!


Full-time writer, part-time lover, freelancing in fancy cheese and cider.

Kate has written 130 articles for us.


  1. I’m so greedy.
    I just want it all.
    And if this guide had a “femme-friendly” counterpart, I’d want all of that stuff, too.

  2. This list is me in an accessorized nutshell even though I’m so not a boi. Maybe I’m a closet butch…as in, I want to have a closet full of all these wonderful things.

  3. Flasks! I recommend engraving a flask with a favorite ridiculous memory in a cute font. Always a winner.

    • naw man, it’s cool. i always have mad respect for “that kid,” since i tend to be “that kid.” the things that are on this list are here because they were literally on my birthday list, and it grew from there. if i’m a typical masculine son of a bitch, so be it. i also asked for star wars action figures and glitter studded slippers, but i didn’t include those. maybe that should have been in the runners-up to reveal my trashy childhood-obsessed side.

      i’m curious as to what you would have expected for atypical gifts, or what should have been here? i’d definitely be down for a part two!

      • Just connected you to While I may not share your style, your tumblr makes me lol at work so you’re good in my book.

    • I am in agreement with you. This isn’t my style or my idea of what dapper is. This seems like a teenagers idea of dapper items. But oh well the list does appeal to a lot of other people…

      • ah, but it’s not meant to be “dapper.” it’s meant to be a selection of things that someone who is masculine-presenting might be interested in for gift items because that demographic tends to be more difficult to buy for. i’d love to do a dapper gift list, but alas i am not dapper-presenting all the time and tend to dress more like a scrappy hipster boi than anything else. if that’s something you guys are interested in addressing, you should seriously consider writing a guest post. i would be totally behind that because i do dabble in the dapper from time to time.

        when i ask for accessories, i can get anything from ballet flats to dangly earrings depending on how my family interprets that wish. it can be hard for those of who are more masculine presenting to explain to people what we’d like to get, because our style is already veering from the normative idea of how a female-bodied or cafab person is meant to present. that was the only purpose of this list.

  4. LOVE, love, love this! Thanks for the great post – I’m excited to say that maybe someday you might want to add art now! hankies to the list (we’re in start-up phase and planning our first kickstarter). Art now! textiles – and our first project, art now! hankies, is a dyke-owned (more specifically, I’m a queer butch!) business that is focused on paying artists & donating to local organizations doing good work. Congrats to all the amazing vendors on this post – cheers! Please follow us on twitter and join us on this journey!
    At art now! textiles, we believe in art. We believe in the transformative promise of art in communities, from murals on city walls to the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel to a handkerchief in your pocket. We believe that art plants seeds of growth & change, which is why 5% of each piece sold goes to the local, independent artist who designed the graphic & another 5% goes to a local org doing good work. Our first piece is a bike-themed handkerchief; Bikes Not Bombs will receive the 5% from sales.

  5. Great gift guide. Any shopping suggestions for my butch’s adorable but tiny head and feet? We have the hardest time finding headgear and footwear.

  6. The masculine-of-center person/butch in my life (that isn’t me) has noted that cufflinks are appropriate.

  7. I know this article is well intended, but that’s really a shitload of junk to carry around to feel more masculine/boi or something. If someone were to give me one of these gifts, it would rather seem like a burden to carry it around constantly (or wearing it). I just like to wear my energy (and fragrance) as an accessory and that’s it. Too much of this stuff feels inauthentic.. but that’s me. Maybe I’m another kind, but this gift list doesn’t apply to me.

    • If someone were to give you a gift and you felt that said gift was a burden, I’d wonder why they wanted to buy you gifts at all. Seems rather ungrateful overall.

      • If someone gives you a gift, the GESTURE is nice. That doesn’t mean you have to like the gift itself. Being ungrateful has nothing to do with it, don’t make up shit like that.

        • Gratitude is such an ugly word, period. Nothing’s more clutter-prone than an ill-suited gift.

          Gift-getting/giving is fun, though.

    • Um no one is asking you to wear/carry all the items on this list all at once. And these things aren’t to MAKE you feel more butch… they are gifts that might appeal to someone that has a more butch sensibility.

    • 1. Some people like to wear fragrance, others like to wear a watch or a necklace. My boi crush wears a necklace everywhere she goes. Frankly, I don’t wear fragrances because so many people are allergic to the chemicals. Careful with that word “junk”. I’m not into buying a whole lot of “stuff” but something that is sentimental from a loved one is not junk.

      2. Suggest something that would apply to you and maybe Kate will included it in part 2.

      3. Suggestion for part 2: suspenders.

  8. Your wishlist IS my wish list!! but I fall on the femme side of things. I love how our styles and identities are so intrinsic. Meaning if me and you had the the same haircut and the same outfit no one would mistake you not a bois or me for one. People rock their spirit. Yep yep.

  9. I *might* have had to forward this article to some of my friends as no one ever knows what to get me (and I’m hoping some of them take the hint!). What about stopwatches – who doesn’t love a stopwatch? Especially tucked in a waistcoat!

    • pocket watch on a chain, engraved with something special. damn.

      my friend gave me one a while back and i love rockin in. i can only imagine that if i were to receive one from a lady that would just melt my lil heart.

  10. I have had much success giving my tomboy queer girlfriends gifts of this nature in the past. Seriously, a tweed bowtie? So fresh.

  11. Plus side to spending 3.5 years of my life dying in fashion school:

    Ability to make bow ties in 20 minutes.

    Anyone that knows how to sew should learn this.

  12. My wishlist has a significant overlap with this one. A good timepiece or lighter would be the ultimate gift (but that’s because I’m a tad pyro and a bit of a dandy). I also received a flask last Christmas. Yeah I’ll bet chocolate milk doesn’t wash out well. I had enough problems with the eggnog.

  13. This is amazing.
    Also I own supra shoes and am getting some for my birthday which is on sunday.
    Also I want a flask.
    Also I am femme but this totally relates to me because I always queer up my outfit with one boi thing, at least.

    Also I think we should kiss if you come to Europe because that is how we do things here and you are fiiiiyne <3

  14. i will definitely be buying all of these things… for myself.
    also i saw the sweetest wood-and-black-plastic boi-ring at target the other day, and then proceeded to get it stuck on my finger although i’d decided not to buy it, and this list makes me want to run back across town to see if it’s still there.

  15. i love most autostraddle articles, but i do not always read them aloud to my straight-but-bifriendly roomie…

    like i just did with this one
    …the entire thing.

  16. “Also if there is a cute girl standing outside the bar who asks if you have a light, you’re going to need a lighter.”

    Ahem…THIS THIS THIS. There’s this girl which everytime she sees me (we’ve talked only a couple of times) ask me if I have a lighter and I always answer I don’t smoke.

    My bestfriend suggested to buy a personalized one with written “Smile if you want to f*ck when you give this back”. :D

    Anywaaay awesome article even if I’m more inclined to the femme side!

  17. damn, i love shopping for boi-toys. too bad it’s way too early to christmas shop. and my gf is the femmiest femme.

  18. We LOVE your gift list here at dapperQ. Perhaps we can borrow you from Autostraddle for a day or two to give some advice to our readers ;)

    And what’s not dapper about your items? They can be dressed up or down. For example, in our recent post on how to “dress down” a suit, we recommend, as per fashion bloggers as Park & Bond, adding casual accessories, such as your boi jewelery:

    Bow-ties, vintage & vintage inspired lighters and flasks…oh so dapper.

    Speaking of bow-ties, have you checked out the totally cool ties by our friend, Kate Ross:

    Back packs? Hats? Bow-ties? Totally Ivy style, like in this post:

    Nice job!

    • please borrow me, dapperQ! i love you guys and would be more than willing to lend my boi services ;)

  19. Hi Kate,
    Thanks so much for mentioning our “the absolute cutest” seersucker necktie. We have a lot of fun designing the collection- glad that you like them!
    All the best to you,

  20. I consider myself a country femme, and the natural look of some of that stuff totally appeals to me.

  21. I’m personally so glad you wrote this, because it made me discover wooden watches. Why has no one told me about these?! I’m all kinds of allergic to nickel, which is in EVERY thing, so a wooden watch is perfect. Now if only I could afford one…

  22. A. You are a mad genius for posting this the day before my girlfriend’s birthday. B. Have we talked about how I swooned over the gif you posted of yourself? Let’s discuss. C. I’m not a creeper I just crush a lot.

  23. I would wear some of those bracelets….and I’m not even butch. Most of those hats on the other hand are hideous imo…they look like something a circus clown would wear. I’m kinda over the fake Buddy Holly glasses & bow tie look too. I do like seeing women in regular ties & Fedoras though :)

    • IMO, it pains me to call out someone with the user name of my favorite band, and imma let you finish, but maybs you should stop sippin the haterade and embrace that this post was not written specifically for you and therefore commenting that you think she has chosen ‘circus clown’ hats is not kewl mmmmmkayy and I know this is a run-on sentence so COME AT ME BRO. And maybe after you come at me we can bond over CocoRosie’s cover of Kevin Little? K great.

      • Also.Also.Also if by circus clown you mean Willamsburg hiptser than I retract my former comments.

      • it cracks me up how little dissent is allowed here. sorry not everyone has the same opinions as you?

        • Yeah I get frustrated with that myself. Like a little disagreement is good for the soul, really.

        • Maybe cause it’s viewed as a safe space? I feel like a lot of the articles on here are well thought out and written to be as inclusive as possible (with varying results, true), so that disagreement is quieter or more specific and less kneejerk.

          Of course, this website also caters to a smaller audience than, say, queerty so it gets more “THIS” and less honest disagreement. I personally think it’s harder to disagree/get into an argument here because I fins myself agreeing/being validated most of the time.

      • This article doesn’t concern me? “A Gift Guide for the Masculine-of-Center Person In Your Life”. o_O I’m not hating,I just didn’t like a few items and would never buy them for my gf. I’m sure everyone isn’t in love with all items on here. And I’m still standing by my original opinion in saying that most of those hats are eyesores. :)

        “Also.Also.Also if by circus clown you mean Willamsburg hiptser”

        yeah,same difference ;)
        Only if they’re wearing non

  24. It’s my birthday in a few weeks and if no one decides they want to get me a cardboard cutout of Olivia Wilde, I may have to give them this list.

  25. This feature inspired me to register for Autostraddle. I think the key word in this title is “discerning” not necessarily “butch.” This list is gorgeously put together. Thanks much,

  26. Um, Could we go Boi on a BUDGET, please? (or Boi’s starving-artist-partner-gift-guide for Under 100 Bucks, plz)

    • Yeah agree. Those kicks are NOT CHEAP. I guess it’s aspirational? Like vogue for bois? Ugh, don’t wanna think about that too much. Anyway. One the other hand good-looking headphones come cheap sometimes. I was addicted to a pair of real dj headphones from streetlight records that came in at like $20 (now I have in-ear ones that don’t look as good but damn do they do noise-cancelling!).

  27. Haha! I already own like half these things! (My favorite is my flask engraved with ‘meh’. A gift from a friend after we almost choked trying to take sips of whiskey from travel coffee mugs during the midnight showing of harry potter. Yes I’m also stuck in nostalgia-land, what of it?) Word about headphones. There is nothing sexier than dj-style headphones draped casually around one’s neck.

  28. kate,

    this is the best shit ever in life. all of these items are pretty awesome and its obvs you put a lot of work into compiling this list. i wish i could go back in time and forward this to every family member that ever bought me a Barbie doll after age 6, dangly earrings, anything with a flower print, a charm bracelet, a shirt in a woman’s size which was also two sizes too small for my boddeee and other such unfortunate things. like yes, it’s the thought that counts BUT were you thinking of me when you bought this for me or were you thinking of what you wish i was? what YOU wish i was wearing/doing and how i was living? cuz it’s those feelings that really come across when someone (that ‘knows’ you) gives you something that has no connection to who you are as a person. receiving a gift that has nothing to do with who you really are fucking hurts sometimes esp when it comes from people who you feel should already know you better. can i get an Ahmenz?

    anyway, also also i love your voice and how it sounds campy and dandy like mine and that you used my fave word: gentlequeers.



  29. *wait, what’s really funny is that I’m wearing big ass bamboo earrings in this pic because someone bought them for me and i felt like i should give them a whirl…

  30. i love this! i’ve always had a hard time finding gifts for the wife, especially jewelry! thank you!! :)

  31. I know one person who hates music, my boss, she is an evil cyborg. I dont trust a person who hates music, life rule #5.

  32. Another gift idea concerning watches: nato straps! My girlfriend gave me one that was red, white, and blue (my favorite color combo, I fear that I’m always dressed like the American flag) for my birthday, along with a Timex Easy Reader watch. I switched out the strap that came with that watch for the nato strap, and bam! Now I have a super-cool, casual watch that goes with all my outfits.

  33. Pingback: The top 35 Ideas About Gift Ideas for butch Girlfriend - Home, Family, Style and Art Ideas

Comments are closed.