Everyday Tomboy Style
August 15, 2014 10:49 AM   Subscribe

I think it's time to update/upgrade my fashion style now that I'm slightly older and dressing as a HS boy is not seen as positive in the early 20s in metropolitan area.


Although I'm aware of certain fashion styles, I never put much thought about it because I tend to to be too tired in the morning to prepare. I don't wear makeup and most of my outfits consist of t-shirt, jeans, and shoes depending on weather conditions. I complete my everyday wear with a school backpack and ... end up looking much younger than my age (23).

I'm a fan of tomboy styles (?) and androgynous outfits but unfortunately, I'm relatively short (4'11"), Asian-American, and stocky. As a result clothing styles I like look awkward and/or too large for me. Also, I have a limited clothing budget and not too crazy about high maintenance clothing atm. I guess, I could work on maintaining a healthy weight too since I don't exactly fit into the petite category either.

Some examples of outfits I like are military-inspired jackets, school blazers, 3/4 sleeve jackets, crop jackets, layering clothing, dark colored clothing, minimal branding, and simplistic designs. I apologize how I can't exactly describe the exact look I'm interested in but here's a image set of what I meant.

Right now, I'm still wearing my old clothes from HS which are around 5-10 years old by now. I did buy a few basic clothing articles from Uniqlo but most of my clothing is somewhat outdated. Currently, I'm a student who attends a city college and I'm feeling increasingly foolish compared to my sometimes (younger) peers. I don't follow any fashion blogs apart from collecting references for drawing in my free time.

I'm not interested in some menswear (bow ties,suits, and suspenders) clothing, dress/skirts, "loud" patterns, or anything overly feminine. Ideally, it should be between casual and semi-formal for a school setting. I'm not against bright colors but I'm used to wearing neutral or monotone clothing over time.

I have read old Mefi and AskMefi posts in related fashion questions but it's not completely what I'm looking for since I'm in a odd zone w/r/t body type.

I'm curious if anyone could pinpoint the exact fashion style I'm describing in a more specific term? Tomboy femme is the closest approximation I've seen online although if I were to dress similiarly I'd look like I'm playing dress-up with my brother's clothing. For example while, I like Ellen DeGeneres's fashion but custom tailored suits are sadly out of my budget and even then not suitable for class.

Any suggestions for gender-neutral clothing styles or stores would be great too. I can order online but I prefer B&M for returns and exchanges. Thanks.

BTW: I identify as Asexual and I've always felt out of place with traditionally feminine clothing from a young age. It's hard to describe why tomboy style appeals to me, but it fits with my uncertainty how to define myself in society.
posted by chrono_rabbit to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (7 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Ditch the backpack for a Cambridge Satchel style bag.

Try some fitted women's polo shirts with slacks or dark straight-legged or slim-fit jeans.

Try blazers over plain tshirts with dark jeans.

If you wear sneakers, trade them out for some real shoes or boots.
posted by erst at 11:03 AM on August 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

Hello! Fellow would-be tomboy, thwarted by shortness and boobness forever. It really sucks to look at the pretty clothes and realize they're just not right for your body. BUT YOU CAN DO IT! It will take a little more effort than maybe you've put in so far, but once you get a nice little wardrobe established, you can go back to clothing autopilot.

If you want to avoid the too-large, wearing-my-brother's-clothes effect, you need to focus on fit:

-If your variety of "stocky" includes boobs, buy button-down shirts a size up, but then have them tailored to fit you. It's not as high-maintenance as it sounds. Pretty much any tailor can take in a button-down shirt; it'll cost you around 10-15 bucks. I like the button-down shirts at Downeast Basics, which are built with actual adult women chests in mind.

-As you can see in your Tomboy Femme link, many of the women use skinny or legging jeans to balance out a baggier top half; this can also help give the impression "my clothes fit, they are mine", but YMMV on wearing skinny jeans in general.

-Make sure your clothing is the right *length* in addition to not being overly baggy; look for "ankle" or "petite" length pants/jeans (us shorties can sometimes even cheat by buying a "crop," which won't look cropped on us).

For what it's worth, notice that Ellen isn't actually wearing a suit in most of those pictures you linked--she's wearing jeans, a button-down, and a sweater or jacket. These things are not nearly as cost-prohibitive as an actual full-on suit, and I doubt anyone would consider them out of place in a classroom.
posted by like_a_friend at 11:08 AM on August 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

Have you seen the actual blog Tomboy Style? It's trending more towards lifestyle than just fashion now (the front page has posts about things like a particular kind of notebook and "behind the scenes at the Timberland boot factory" or whatnot), but the look sounds like it's what you're going for, and they do discuss specific brands at times.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:28 AM on August 15, 2014

I don't know if I can link directly to this here, but if you click the Pinterest link in my profile, I have a board called capsule wardrobe which should give you some ideas. I skew slightly more femme than your description but have pinned lots of tomboy outfits too.
posted by ellieBOA at 5:02 PM on August 15, 2014

Definitely take a look at Madewell. For style examples, check this out.
posted by moons in june at 7:07 PM on August 15, 2014

Response by poster: @erst: Forgot to mention that I got a new MK school bag/satchel to replace my old backpack but I appreciate the recommendation though :)

I guess, it's time to retire my old sneakers for normal shoes. I'm not against shopping per se but I tend to wear size 4-5 shoes and almost no store sells it in USA.

@like_a_friend: I do have a few button-down shirts for formal events and I have a sewing machine so I can do minor adjustments too. Most of the time my issue is that the sleeves are too long for me or too tight.

Yes, skinny jeans are tricky for me to wear (along with leggings/tights) because it'll be a little too form-fitting and I look even shorter/disportionate haha. I'll keep it in mind though.

Yes, crop pants are the best because I can wear them w/o fixing the hems 90% of the time. It does look somewhat odd when I'm wearing seasonal pants during winter though.

You're right now that I've spent more time looking at the Pinterest page.

@EmpressCallipygos: I have seen the blog recommended but ehh, many of the items are out of my budget but I like the overall looks featured. Thanks.

@ellieBOA: Thanks, I haven't spent much time on Pinterest but I'll check your page out for fashion later.

@moons in june: Madewell's style looks very nice and they even have a local store in the area =) Will take a look during my free days off. Thanks.

After browsing around for a few hours I managed to create a scrapbook of interesting Tomboy styles for ideas. I'm more of a fan of menswear-inspired outfits over direct menswear fashions for women.

IIRC I can fit menswear (at least teen/young adult sizes) but they tend to stop at Medium size. It's unfortunate because menswear tends to be more durable and flexible compared to some women's clothing.

Oh well, but thank you everyone again for all the advice here.

OT: Reminds me has anyone tried online-only stores for clothing? I like online shopping but I know from personal exp that I hate dealing with returns and shipping.
posted by chrono_rabbit at 9:57 AM on August 16, 2014

i'm really late to this party but i have also struggled with how to dress for a while. i'm short and busty and i like plain, tomboyish stuff but don't want to be boring or schleppy.

it's taken me years, and i'm still working on it, but here's what i've learned. it's often the finishing touches that are key. my friend wears the same basics that i do--plain white tee, for instance, but finishes it off with a big gold watch and a tiny elegant necklace and some interesting shoes. etc.

this is a relief because it's easier to find cool shoes and accessories than clothes. and that's really the way to elevate the clothes from the same pieces everyone else has to part of a unique outfit that only you could have put together.
posted by iahtl at 2:08 PM on August 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

« Older Immigrant parents won't drop the subject of their...   |   Summon us a dinner genie Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.