I want to look like a dyke, not a teenage boy.
July 27, 2010 11:14 AM   Subscribe

It's time for everyone's favorite game: Dress the Dyke! I seriously need help not looking like a teenage boy.

I think it's time to update my wardrobe. I just graduated from school and am ready for a fresh start. My usual garb is jeans and a t-shirt, men's cut. I know for sure that if I get more jeans they have to be men's low rise (the proportions work out better that way). I'm open to all suggestions about clothing. I will need casual clothing as well as professional attire. I like the way that Ellen dresses, but have no idea where to start when it comes to making that image work for me. I like androgynous clothing, leaning more so on the masculine side. I'm about 5'3', have a 32" waist, and typically fit men's small sizes. Naturally since I just graduated and don't have the best job in the world I'd like to keep my costs down, but will save up to buy a truly awesome article of clothing. Thank you so much for all of your help!!! Also if you need more details I am more than happy to oblige.
posted by carnivoregiraffe to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (20 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Add some snappy blazers and vests.

Oh, and your t-shirts are solid colors, right? Wear solid color t-shirts under those blazers and vests. Rock some small-brimmed hats. Get yourself some soft leather lace up oxfords (the narrow kind with sort of pointy toes). If you've got wide feet, go for some kicky awesome sneakers (the kind that have lots of colors and are way too intricate to be mistaken for the New Balances you wear for jogging).

What's your haircut like? Go more for sculpted (but not with gel!) rather than soft.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:28 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Nice slacks. Vintage men's clothes will work well and not cost too much. Or wear a blazer over a t-shirt with jeans. Sneakers are good, but head far, far away from running shoes--think more Keds or Converse. Vests are constantly waxing and waning in popularity, but I think they look nice; my general rule of thumb would be to take one element of a three-piece suit, combine it with nice accessories, and then just wear a good, simple shirt and jeans or casual slacks for everyday wear.

That look won't be distinctive, but it will look nice. In my opinon, at least.
posted by verbyournouns at 11:32 AM on July 27, 2010

for the professional attire, its worth it to go to a fancy store and get yourself measured to you know your sizes -- theres lots of good men's clothes out there that you can wear and knowing your waist, inseam, collar, and sleeve length will make it easier to pick stuff out. Depending on budget and how professional you need to be, you might consider getting a few basics (button down shirts, good pants, etc) from a place like Brooks Brothers or Thomas Pink (mens or womens side) that can serve as interview wardrobe when tucked in and as business casual with nice jeans or khakis
posted by cubby at 11:33 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you usually wear jeans and a t shirt, I'd go for trying to find non-jean pants that are cut similarly in neutral colors like khaki, black, and grey. On top, you can keep the t shirts but I like wearing jackets and blazers when I'm trying to look more professional because I can throw them over a tank top and still feel like myself.

As for managing costs, if you know your size and what you're looking for, eBay frequently has new clothes for cheaper than they are in stores. Most stores email coupons regularly. Get on their email lists and once you have a coupon for 30% off or more, splurge on those more expensive items.
posted by kat518 at 11:34 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

1) Look around for styles you like.
2) Buy and wear those styles.

I've been wearing button up men's shirt with khakis, jeans, men's work pants, or nicer slacks for about 15 years with no ill effects. These clothes are available at the Gap, Ross, thrift stores, H&M, online, or wherever else clothes are sold!

For dress up, invest in a couple expensive or even tailored pants (tailored will work better for your body since off the shelf men's pants, as you've noted, are not designed for hips and ass), a high-quality blazer or jacket, and a nice pair of chunky women's shoes or regular men's dress shoes.

I'd say good luck, but you won't need it! The nice thing about being on the masculine end of the fashion spectrum is there's not as much pressure. You can look good with a fairly easy to attain wardrobe.
posted by serazin at 11:39 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

The best dressed of my lesbian friends is a total Brooks Brothers groupie. They cost, but the pieces are truly classic and only need to be replaced when they wear out.

I would also suggest taking a look at Talbots' pant suits. I'm around your size and find their petites fit well.

Oxford style shirts look great with pants suits and definitely are more masculine.

You can make a little statement with your shoes, too going for a low boot style with a discreet heel.
posted by bearwife at 11:40 AM on July 27, 2010 [3 favorites]

Oooh I love this game! *Bounces up and down*

Why don't you go adorably preppy? I think you should actually "play up" the boy thing but dress it up a little. This: it works on the lady-loving-ladies so well. And you're a fabulous size for it. I encourage you to go full-on J. Press. Twill slacks. Button-downs. Plaid. Polos. Cotton in the summer, wool in the winter.

HONESTLY if you started wearing SHORT-sleeved shirts with plaid and solid-color cotton summer ties? (AHEM.) There would be no lady who could resist you. It's so sexy Mormon!

Okay, I'm done now. But yeah, if you can get to a Brooks Brothers, GO. All the summer wear is 50% off! Bring a friend for moral support!
posted by RJ Reynolds at 11:46 AM on July 27, 2010 [6 favorites]

I like androgynous clothing, leaning more so on the masculine side. I'm about 5'3'', have a 32" waist, and typically fit men's small sizes.

My oldest friend is kind of like this (though a little taller) and I know she's had good luck at Banana Republic for office clothes. She always looks sharp.
posted by rtha at 11:54 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Well, with Ellen it's all about the button-downs with the vests. These are very well-fitted button downs - they fit correctly in the shoulders, which is key - she doesn't look like she's swimming in them even if she flips the sleeves up one fold.

Basically, I think she manages to make a really stylish look because everything fits very well - which is not the same thing as fitted. She has a whole wardrobe blog, did you know that?
posted by DarlingBri at 12:05 PM on July 27, 2010 [9 favorites]

I like the suggestion above (...though I'm not sure about vests...personally I like them--but they can go "bad '80's"/possibly even worse 70's fast).

I love the lace up oxfords ocherdraco suggests. If you wear mostly jeans (blue denim) I'd strongly consider getting the oxfords in dark brown or oxblood rather than black. A classic style like this will never go out of fashion, so I'd try to avoid more trendy-looking heel and toe designs, or big, funky-chunky soles (the Doc Martin look's too 1990's imo).

How do you feel about very simple jewelry? I think lots of tailored menswear and androgynous looks can be improved with a very small touch of jewelry, like a simple cuffed bracelet. A little something to keep an androgynous look from being too plain, and to show you put thought into your attire...didn't just roll out of bed and throw it on. A white oxford shirt with both sleeves casually rolled up to show one cuffed bracelet on your lean arms will look hot.
posted by applemeat at 12:07 PM on July 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

My friend finds a LOT of pieces in the mens section of H&M. She also loved the Topman line from Topshop in London.

I think the main point is to find a good fit- I see a lot of straight-leg pants, but not skinny-leg or bootcut or flare. Same goes for tops- body-skimming but not tight or too loose. You don't want to completely lose the shape of your body.

Seconding DarlingBri's Ellen wardrobe link.
posted by rachaelfaith at 12:16 PM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

You probably already know what things to avoid if you don't want to look like a teenaged boy:

* T-shirts that say stuff
* Baggy/long "skater" shorts
* Baggy cargo shorts/pants
* Baseball caps

posted by applemeat at 12:18 PM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

As a fellow queer girl, I'm gonna just come out with it.

Ellen looks great because she wears women's clothing.

One can get women's clothing in tomboyish, menswear inspired cuts and styles.

If you want to look like one of those fabulous, tailored "executive lesbians" (as my friends put it), don't wear men's clothing for the most part.

If it's a butch/gender identity thing, I dunno - maybe bring stuff to an understanding tailor to be altered to fit you? And I don't mean to offend by saying this so bluntly. But there you go.
posted by Sara C. at 2:13 PM on July 27, 2010 [3 favorites]

Buy a super cute fedora. I'm a milliner. I should know.

Also this.
posted by Sophie1 at 3:23 PM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

What Sara C said is right: looking sharp is really all about fit. Clothes that fit well look polished and graceful, no matter the body type or preferred style of dressing. A nice wool jacket that you've spent some extra money on will look good and last a long time, and can really polish up your look.

Random idea, but have you seen the movie Coco Before Chanel ? The clothes Audrey Tautou wears in that film run the gamut from (period) menswear to feminine and everything in between, but they are all supremely tailored. It gave me lots of food for thought re: jackets.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:34 PM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

- well fitting, get things tailored if required
- choose a look and be consistent (preppy, old skool, etc)
- don't ignore the possibilities of women's brands, particularly for pants
- be prepared to work hard for your look
- if you do find an item that fits extremely well, buy a few colours and stockpile them.
- get feedback from friends on what looks good

thanks for asking the question, i've faced this problem too.
posted by MT at 3:59 PM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

The girl (the pimp character) in the TV series "Hung"; she looks like a 'dyke'. You could model your dress after her. Professional dress flannels and plaid; properly fitted. Tight hair, more of an athletic physique to boot. Speaking of boots; a mild version of a boot is a consistent 'dyke' appearance. Too boot.
posted by buzzman at 7:14 PM on July 27, 2010

Response by poster: Wow, so many great ideas!

DarlingBri: I had no idea Ellen had a fashion blog, that helps a lot!

applemeat: That cuffed bracelet is to die for, it is just my style. Well picked!

Everyone else: Thank you so much for all of the great selections, I have a lot to think about now the next time I head out to shop. I think the main point I'm taking away from all of this is fit. I think it's high time I saved up to buy and tailor clothes that will show off the what needs to be shown off (me!).

Please keep up the great suggestions! Also any pictures will earn bonus points, I find it easier to shop if I have a picture of what I want to buy. Thanks again!
posted by carnivoregiraffe at 8:37 PM on July 27, 2010

There are a few stores that actually specialize in this now--probably more expensive, but might be worth it for key pieces. You may also want to take the time to find a good tailor, so when you find an awesome vintage (or not) menswear piece you can have it tailored to fit you properly.
posted by sarahkeebs at 6:51 AM on July 28, 2010

Ellen looks great because she wears women's clothing.

Seconded. You need your stuff tailored for curves if you want to rock the menswear like that.
posted by desuetude at 8:27 AM on July 28, 2010

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