Archives for posts with tag: style

After a whirlwind weekend spent in panicked shopping, I finally settled on what to wear to my first ever office holiday party. It doesn’t get any more corporate, or conservative, than the office I temp in, and since I’m angling for them to hire me for real I’ve been ridiculously nervous about my gender presentation.  I walk the line with them – not wearing a full suit and tie, per se, but I’ll definitely display the blazer and pants from the men’s section, and I wear the most masculine women’s pinstripe suits I could find (which pretty much pass, to my discerning eye).

The holiday party is a different animal, however, since it’s fancy. Suit and tie required fancy. Beverly Hills Country Club fancy. Which means all the office women will be in their best cocktail motif. And me? I was worried I was going to be stuck wearing my same 9-5 workaday suit, since all my most fancy duds are very, very, very butch. Tie and suspender combo butch. And I’m still working up to that point with this office.

However! I’ve been saved by the androgynous choice of all ages, which I am dubbing the casual tuxedo look. Pair a tux jacket (dinner jacket, no tails) with a fancy-ish or tux shirt, leave off the tie, and shine up your shoes. I’m still looking for the right accessories – a good silver pendant woud be nice, but here’s what I’ve found:

armani exchange. 40% off. saved my life.

Behold the Sequin Shirt, from Armani Exchange. I was losing steam on Sunday, striking out on all the affordable tuxedo shirt fronts, and then my gf found this one in the least-likely-to-be-on-sale-or-ever-be-affordable store ever.

Let’s take a closer look.

tiny shiny sequins.

Never did I think I’d wear ANYTHING sequined (unless, of course, I was workin’ it with my drag-queen self). But these are actually so subtle while still adding that shiny flair, they’re really great, and I LOVE the covered placket. And the shirt fits me well in the torso – I am taking it to the tailor today to have the sleeves shortened a bit and the shoulders taken in. Once it’s all done and pressed I will be pretty and shiny and still butch.

I’m going to pair it with:

H&M one-button tux jacket.

Because I buy my jackets a bit small, so they fit snug in the shoulders and across the back, I rarely button them (I rarely can, but most folks don’t notice). That way the sequins will dazzle all the way down. Add some good black trousers and the right silver accessories and I think I might just pull it off. My gf will be in high-cocktail dress with the best of them.

Hi all –

There’s a darker post coming, based on where my head and identity have been these past few days. To take my mind off things, however, I’ve taken to trolling the webs to collect some style ideas that make me pine, which I will showcase here.

Two things – as I’ve battled with weight and gender presentation, I’ve learned that 1) I don’t do well with cheap clothes. I spent years purchasing mens shirts and ties from places like Ross and Marshalls, and while you can sometimes find amazing stuff there, I’m such a specific size and build that usually it doesn’t fit me well enough to be worth it. I’d rather spend a little more on some good quality clothes that will last, and well made items can withstand a little tailoring if I choose to make them fit better. Which I usually do. And 2) trousers and pants are too difficult to buy online. There’s just no way of knowing how they’ll sit on your hips, so I’m sticking with shirts, outerwear, and accessories for this list.

I’ve been coveting a lot of Calvin Klein lately – I discovered their slim-fit cuts tend to work with my now-slimmer body better than most. In particular:

textured henley hoodie

For the weekends, or when you need an extra layer under a blazer and the college sweatshirt won’t cut it. Alternatively:

wool blend hoodie sweater

I love this one, particularly how long it is – when you’re almost 6′, you need some torso length. It might look weird with a bigger chest, though.

Same for these shirts:

graphic roll-up shirt

mini-houndstooth shirt

I always roll my sleeves up, unless I’m wearing the shirt under another layer. I find especially if I have a shirt that doesn’t quite fit my shoulders, rolling the sleeves up a bit gives a better impression of fit. I also love the dark buttons on the second one, and while usually I avoid shirts with pockets because of the bosom, with this kind of casual shirt I make an exception. Read the rest of this entry »

Something I’ve been learning in the last six months: What makes an outfit? Where is the line drawn between simply dressing, and dressing well? What seems to be the keys to style?

Robert Henri says in The Art Spirit, and I’m paraphrasing badly here, that beauty is in the form and function of a thing made well.  I’ve come to believe that an outfit is no different than a Swedish-designed chair or new luxury car. A thing made well is a thing made with care, and time, and probably effort.

It takes effort to “look good”, whether that be through gelling up your faux-hawk just so, choosing the silver watch instead of the brown leather watch since you’re wearing black boots today, or deciding to add another layer just for color. The femmier-ones among us know how much effort it takes to put on makeup every day and shave and pluck and all sorts of other nonsense.

I struggle with this effort on a daily basis. The grooming stuff I’ve got a handle on – it’s the clothing part that’s still a bit up in the air. (Damn seasonal changes.)  It takes a lot of pre-planning for me to see beyond the limitations of “not-dirty-tee-shirt” and “not-dirty-jeans”.  God forbid it if I owned more than three pair of shoes.  And I know there are quite a few fashion-savvy butches out there, but for the rest of us, I’ve made a little cheat sheet.

  1.  A tee shirt and jeans is not an outfit. Add a hat and a watch and it can be.
  2.  A cardigan over a tee shirt is probably not an outfit, but if you layer two shirts under the cardigan, then it is.
  3.  There are few looks that can’t be improved by the right blazer. A black blazer makes any outfit sharp.
  4. A belt, a watch, a chunky bracelet, a hat, and good sneakers: accessories always look dashing.
  5. A white tee shirt under a button down ranks a ten on the masculinity scale. Make it a tee that gives a splash of color and you’re metrosexual. Lose the tee and add a blazer or vest for a more feminine twist. Layer two tees with soft colors under the button down for that J. Crew look.
  6. You can pull off almost any shoes, as long as they’re in good condition. Save the dusty vintage kicks for actual vintage shoes, and learn about shoe polish.
  7. On that note: Men’s vintage oxfords look amazing with almost any outfit. I’ve seen femmes pair them with baby-doll dresses. Look for ones that still have a good shine and aren’t too broken down on the soles.
  8. A graphic tee shirt and jeans worn with an open suit vest will catch you a lot of compliments, and you’ll look like an 80s teenage dream king.
  9. Never wear a belt AND suspenders. And always try for suspenders with braces. Learn to sew the buttons on your trousers yourself. It’s good be a handibutch.
  10. Colored or patterned socks can really finish a look. I only wore argyle socks for years (before they came back into style) and called myself “grandpa-chic”. Leave the white sport socks for the gym.

I can certainly name more, but these are the notes that are getting me through right now. Have any other quick, style-setting fixes you can share?

Since I’ve been on a journey to *ahem* dress myself in clothes fit for wearing outside in daylight as opposed to clothes that look like wrinkly pajamas all the time, I’ve been trolling the interwebs for fashion tips, awesome gender-neutral clothing lines, and anything I can find about menswear that fits a woman’s body. The most important discovery I’ve made is actually an ancient one that, had I been listening (or cared), my grandmother tried to impart upon me at the tender age of 17.  My gramma was a freakin’ amazing woman – she was wearing wigs, mini-skirts, and thigh-high boots well into her 60s, and her fashion choices for the senior center usually revolved around snappy pantsuits in colors like metallic silver. She even painted her nails silver, and had a little rhinestone bling glued to the ring fingers. Fashion was her life.

The point in my regaling you with myth-proportionate tales of my gramma’s style is that she would have been, in her words, a ‘ragamuffin’ without one key addition to her fashion world – her tailor. My grandmother had almost every single piece of clothing she wore tailored to exactly fit her, exactly the way she wanted it to fit her. This was especially true of jackets and pants, but any article could come under the tailor’s needle.

In my attempt to bridge the gaps between menswear and womenswear, not to mention the gaps in my previous size  and my current size, I have finally heeded my gramma’s example. I found me a tailor, and my life has changed.

No more do I lament the boxy-ness of that perfect striped button-down. No more do I worry about the shoulders of that excellent thrift store jacket taking flight. I take my things to Eddy, and he calms all my anxieties.

I found Eddy through Yelp – that bastion of all opinion.  There was a tie between his shop and a certain shop in the Valley known for bespoke tailoring and no-nonsense manner, but a stylish friend who had frequented there related that the prices were equal to two bottles of decent wine per item.  Lo siento, no tengo.

Eddy, however, is one of those gems usually found in antique-encrusted tourist towns.  A relic of a bygone time in the body of a (possibly queer) lithe 30-something. His prices are low and he’s willing to negotiate. He’ll call you if he’s running short on time and knock off a few dollars for your trouble.  And in the meantime he’ll tailor a mean shirt.  It’s not pocket change, but to have a button-down fully customized for under $20 is a dream.

Now, I am fortunate to have found a tailor who is as non-judgemental as tailors come.  I could walk in there with a diaper and he would busily go about nipping and pinning and prodding until that diaper looked like a freaking Armani toga.  He doesn’t even blink if I bring in a musty vintage suitcoat three sizes too big, although usually I stick to button-downs. I bring in shirts that fit me perfectly around the chest with no pulling, and then he takes the size down to make me look slim and trim.  Moves the shoulder seams to sit crisply at the edge of my frame, shorten the length and sleeves, take the sleeves in so they don’t billow around my arms, take the body in so I don’t look like a flying squirrel. It’s brilliant.

For those out there looking for the perfect fit – be it chest-minimizing, hip-minimizing, or simply shortening  your shirt so it doesn’t look like a nightdress, a tailor is THE way to go.  Don’t be afraid to try one out – go buy a shirt for a dollar from a thrift store, one you wouldn’t mind wearing but also wouldn’t be sad to see ruined, and take it to a tailor to try them out. You might have to try a few, but it’s worth it.  Trust me.


The Location: Walking up my street!!! (Silverlake, Los Angeles)
The Look: arty-butch. Trucker cap over loose curls, vintage brown horn-rims, graphic tee and dark jeans. I think there was even a chain wallet. Be still my butchness.

Up in Northern California for the past week, and I saw so many fellow b’s and q’s that I was giddy with all the gender-variant stylin’.

I was privvy to:
-rockin’ mohawks and fauxhawks
-a bevvy of flannels and plaids
-some film critic glasses to die for
-and some naked mud wrestling on the beach. which was both butch and not butch and not one person watching was going to argue the semantics.

Christmas done come early, son.