Reader Eliza had this request:
I’d love to see something about wearing menswear inspired outfits when you have a curvier shape. I’ve seen so many cool photos and have many classmates who shop for little boy’s blazers, wear suspenders or flat caps, chop their hair short, etc. Somehow these things never seem to work for me. Real menswear doesn’t fit and adds twenty pounds, clothing that was actually designed for women loses the masculine edge, and it all looks sloppy or dated on me, rather than nonchalant and cool. Right now, the only way I can get a hint of this look in my closet is through tweedy fabrics and my beloved wristwatch (which is still a bit feminine, though it belonged to my great grandfather). Any styling advice you could give would be great!
I am still experimenting with and exploring menswear and androgynous looks myself, so this request falls a bit outside my comfort zone. But I’ll give it a whirl, then turn the question over to you knowledgeable folks!
Balance fitted and loose
This is good advice all around, of course: Loose with loose will simply swamp most figures, while loose with fitted allows some curves and proportions to shine through. Since relatively few menswear looks utilize dresses and since you’re likely to be working with separates, just pick one fitted item and one loose one. If you’re doing wide leg trousers, pair them with a fitted shirt or sweater. If you’re doing skinny jeans, a looser top can work. Careful, though, my curvy friend. If you’ve got a larger bust and hips you may want to temper a loose top with a belt, vest, or blazer.
Seek slim shirts
As Eliza pointed out, shirts designed with male-shaped humans in mind don’t look quite right on women with pronounced breasts and hips. That swamping effect, yet again. But there are contoured, fitted shirts available in this wonderful day and age, and many of them work for curves. I my own curves are in the butt/hip area and I buy my fitted button-downs at Banana Republic. However, if you’ve got the dual curve combo of bust and hips, try Pepperberry instead.
Quest for a vest
In my opinion, a menswear-reminiscent vest is the ultimate tool for crafting fun androgynous looks. However, vests and curves sometimes fight and vests that work for curvy shapes can be hard to track down. So don’t add this to your shopping list and expect to find it the minute you saunter into a nearby mall. It may take a while. Even multiple seasons. But keep your eyes peeled for a vest that will cinch your waist yet sit above your hips, and also accommodate your bust line. I seldom use Kim K. as an example of stellar style, but this vest fits her quite well. Note that nice, low v-neckline. My guess is that her vest has a good percentage of spandex, or might even be a knit instead of a woven. (And, of course, it was quite possibly tailored …)
Embrace masculine accessories
Again, Eliza is already on the right track, here. Oversized watches, oxfords, ties, boots, plain-buckle belts, and fedoras are all far easier to fit to a curvy form than clothing. If you’re struggling to find menswear clothing that works, create a neutral-to-androgynous base with items like white tees, jeans, crew neck sweaters, or khakis and load on the accessories.
Image courtesy Old Navy, who also does good fitted button-downs. I’ve got many!
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