One of my favorite things about the place we are right now in fashion is that everyone is just inventing their own styles. We’re not just stuck with butch or femme to identify with; we can be androgynous, a femme-boi, tomboy femme, lazy femme, butch queen, androgynous, hot dad chic — the possibilities literally don’t end. According to our recent style survey, my style lies somewhere between the very center and femme, sometimes embracing more masculine cuts. For me, that means little feminine things like ruffles, bows, and pinks, but really straight tailoring that doesn’t accentuate my curves, and higher necklines so I can wear my binder. It’s the best of androgynous style (which does not mean menswear) and femme style and while it’s hard to find things that make me feel really good, it’s always worth the work to put together a look that makes me feel just right.
A reader asked for some wedding looks for a person with an androgynous/femme aesthetic that they could wear to a straight family member’s wedding and I immediately asked to make a style guide because getting fancy for grandma while still feeling like myself is one of my favorite things to do. I’d originally intended to do about four or five looks and got overwhelmed by the endless possibilities of online shopping, so here we are. There’s lots to pick from, enjoy!
For pants, I like something either high-waisted, cropped, or both. Weddings are a fun time to try out patterns, and I love a good rose/blush color as well. Unless the wedding is black tie (and if so, lucky you!), I’d stay away from black, but a nice navy blue never hurt anybody, and we can all use some more of it in our closets. Bows on pants are also a really nice way to add a femme touch to an otherwise straight silhouette and I love the many options that ASOS has in a bunch of different sizes.
When I’m looking for a top, I’m looking for something that will cover up my binder — high necklines or button-ups — but that won’t make people think I’m butch. I love butches, but it’s just not my style, and because I have short hair, I almost always automatically get lumped into that aesthetic anyway. So for a wedding, I’d choose a silk blouse (I honestly hate that word) in a fun color, or a frilly top in a sweet color like pink or coral or white. Be careful with white though, I fully abide by Emily Post’s rules of etiquette, and according to the 19th edition, you can’t wear all white to a wedding. I feel like this matters even moreso if you’re going to a traditional hetero wedding where the bride is wearing white. So if you wear white pants, wear a different color top.
Rompers and Dresses
I am obsessed with a good shift dress or a good romper. Anything that gives me a pretty straight figure, while making my legs look ten miles long is something I need in my closet. Rompers are also great because they are so comfy. You don’t have to wear any underwear with a romper. Straight family is tiring enough, do yourself a favor and put together an outfit that is literally just one piece but will make you look like you worked really hard on it. Plus, most of these have pockets!!!
I used to be obsessed with wearing heels, but now I save them for weddings, galas, nights at the opera, or nights at the ballet. Since these are events that don’t happen too often, it’s fun to break out the shoes that you wouldn’t normally wear. Heels add a super feminine touch to any outfit and also make me feel 7 thousand feet tall and like the most powerful being in the whole world. Sandals are also just always a good choice for a (summer or spring) wedding because they can easily look super dressy, but they’re perfect for dancing in.
Ah, the oxford shoe and the loafer. I’m too embarrassed to tell you how many pairs of similarly colored oxfords and loafers I have in my closets but these shoes feel so fancy! Heels make me feel powerful in a Bette Porter kinda way, and loafers and oxfords make me feel powerful in an old money Connecticut society kinda way. They’re both different, but good. Shoes make the outfit for me, so even if you don’t feel super great about what you’re wearing, a good pair of shoes can make you feel like a million bucks. Plus, you can keep them on all night, even at the point of the wedding when everyone else is doing the electric slide in their socks. If you spend any money on something new for a wedding, I’d suggest spending it on the shoes. You’ll probably get the most wear out of them anyway.
What do you like to wear to weddings? What kind of things make you feel powerful and beautiful and express your style perfectly, even (especially) when you’ve got to deal with the straights? Go forward and look fancy you beautiful perfect andro-femme queer! You deserve nothing less than to dress up and feel like your best self in your party clothes.
An evil navy blue, on the other hand…
I think “andro-femme” is the closest description I can find for my gender presentation goals, but I’ve realized I just really don’t feel a connection with the word “femme”, and I wish I could come up with a better way to express that part of it. Maybe “soft andro”? I dunno. Anyway, what I usually aim for (for weddings, work etc.) is a balance of elements that’s ever so slightly on the femme-for-lack-of-a-better-word side. What those elements are can change from outfit to outfit – so I might go with straight or slightly shapeless lines with frilly/blingy details one day, and shapely, tailored lines with subtler accessories the next, or maybe one item that’s strongly associated with one end of the spectrum paired with another from the other end.
Exhibit A: Whatever you’d call this:
(That’s my “I’ve hit my gender presentation sweet spot, hooray!” laugh)
Thank you Alaina!!!! <3
Wait, “andro-femme” is the best thing I’ve ever heard.
I have a straight wedding to go to in 4 days, this is such a timely post for me! My mother is very upset about my decision to wear pants, but I’m not sure how the rest of my family will feel about it … the outfit I picked looks like it could have come from this post. It reassures me to see this type of fashion advice but I’m afraid some people there might not think it’s socially acceptable…
might i suggest earrings, if they’re not already a part of your outfit? earrings almost always immediately femme up an outfit for me, and they make grandmas really happy.
That’s a good idea! Thanks :D
I recently wore a floral-print jumpsuit to a summer wedding & it was honestly the first time I’ve ever felt like myself while also all dressed up. This gives me so many more ideas!!
Floral print jumpsuits are the light of my fashion life
omg andro-femme is the gender presentation descriptor I never knew I needed! I’ve been using “wannabe dapper femme” as well, but this fits too! And “hot dad chic”–how can anything be better than that? :D
WANNABE DAPPER FEMME; THANK YOU
YES. I’ve been using ‘eccentric British grandpa’ as a descriptor for my favorite outfits.
How can we access this “recent style survey” you mention? I too would like some more fun adjectives to arbitrarily apply to myself! (I literally love surveys I will do them whenever anyone pushes one at me)
I knew I forgot a link! I just added it, but here’s a link just for you!
These are soooo beautiful. I love well tailored, retro leaning, center/ femme aesthetics.
This is the first time I’ve really felt spoken-to by an AS style guide. Nice!
This is so helpful, thank you!!
St. Vincent is my andro-femme idol.
I found two new items to add to my wardrobe! Yay me!
also petition for an “andro-femme” t-shirt pls
Thank you so much, Andro-Femme is brilliant. Finally a name that suits. I’ll take a t-shirt too please! ps love the shoes. :D xo
I wrote this on facebook but i wanted to share here. I love all the clothes and shoes featured in this article but where are the plus size options? Some times I feel like andro is synonymous with thin.
so dresses/rompers were the only ones that i had trouble finding plus size options in, because they were all fit and flare which is absolutely never what i want to wear asos ya jackass. and that seems to be the issue everywhere. i actually wear plus sized clothes right now, and haven’t been able to find dresses that i like anymore because they’re all either body con or super femme. there are plus sized options in every other category though! i agree that a lot of times it seems like andro=slim, but like, it’s 100% not true because i’ve never been slim a damn day in my life and my style is super androgynous! sorry there aren’t more options for plus sized folks though. let’s go yell at the fashion industry together.
literally going to a wedding this weekend so this is perfect
This is amazing. I have been going through what I despairingly referred to as A Gender Thing With Clothes several weeks ago when I was practically in tears over what outfit to wear out one night.
Reading the descriptor of “andro-femme” and hearing you describe the cuts of clothing you like (straight tailoring but feminine accents) really made me go “Oh my god? Another queer person who has a similar style sensibility as me?? Holy shit!?
Anyway, this is brilliant, I really hope you get to write more articles focusing on similar style sensibilities – this meant so much to me. Meanwhile, I’m going to see if I can follow some of these recommendations in time to put together an outfit for a wedding I’m going to this weekend. ;)
I’ve been calling my feminine aesthetic andro femme for over a year now, maybe two. For me it means anti-frill feminine wear and feminizing menswear. I need to make an album of it I swear.
What I wore to a straight not-my family wedding of nerds(groom wore a kilt and the cake was cut with an axe) in February.
White button up with a pullover sweater vest and a velveteen band scarf I tied like a tie. Did a tie knot and everything. But still it was obviously a scarf.
Straight leg pants in a curvy cut, ankle boots
And instead of a suit jacket I wore a leather jacket.
To top it of I wore a fedora with my hair down.
I felt sexy, fabulous and fancy.
Seriously y’all consider ribbon ties, and scarves as ties with button shirts from either department. It’s feels so fancy.
* collared shirts dang it
That’s me right there. Un-frilly women’s wear mixed with “masculine” pieces cut for a woman. When forced to pick a descriptor I go with “hard femme”, for lack of a better word. Though the actual elevator pitch for the closet I’m building is “female metalhead grown up into a responsible, creative small business owner”.
I’m perfectly comfortable in femme cuts, dresses, etc, so I wouldn’t describe myself as andro-anything, but I can’t stand the detailing on most women’s clothing. So much of it isn’t just uncomfortable or pointless, it’s downright infantalising.
This feels like the best descriptor of my style/gender presentation! I haven’t felt at home in my older femme dresses in quite awhile, but was searching for a new ‘normal’ that I felt comfortable with. This rings so true to me.
I love the pants suggestions because when I think dress pants my mind immediately goes to black pants which just reminds me of my work uniform, and I never think of fun patterns. This post makes me excited to go shopping for a wedding outfit, and normally I hate doing that, thank you!
This is close-ish to my style! I’m still trying to figure out how to wear a floral dress in a non-femme way. Dresses are cute! But I’m not femme!
Currently growing out my leg hair and adding converse, but that only works for casual events.
leg hair is extremely formal in my humble opinion. i wear it everywhere.
Wow this is my exact style. Thanks Alaina!
OMG, I love this article. I’m not sure what my descriptor would be. I love dapper femme, I get most of my styling tips from DapperQ, I just adapt the fashion to my personal style so it would probably work for me only I don’t really consider myself all that femme. I just buy things that are a little nicer so when I grab whatever I happen to grab off the floor in the mornings, I usually kinda look remotely put together. It’s been working for me for years.
I looove this style, and now I finally have a name for it!
one of the many chiming in here to say THIS STYLE IS ALSO ME!
I’ve been struggling for ages around the idea of wanting to wear a binder with still wanting to present as femme. Thanks for articulating that here – it’s really nice to have that desire be externally validated. great post!
This is perfect! I love all of these items. I’ve been leaning more androgynous in style lately and andro-femme feels like an absolute perfect fit, even more so than tomboy femme. Thanks so much!!
ALAINA I LOVE THIS!!!!
Also: I just spent 2 hours last night trying to find the perfect silver sequined tshirt to wear to a wedding in october but it’s SOLD OUT AT ASOS!!!!! What. Do. I. Do.
f e e l i n g t h i s
I love this style guide! It’s not…quite 100% where I am fashion-wise, but it’s really close and I could def see myself wearing some of this.
ever since Agent Carter season 2 i’ve been lusting after jumpsuits, but I have no idea how to find one that works for my short/averagely round/busty frame.
Losing my AS comment virginity to echo the appreciation for ‘andro-femme’ <3
Also immediately purchased those metallic ASOS brogues so thank you for those.