I just went shopping to help a male friend of mine buy casual clothes for work. I learned that I am not alone in having difficulty finding menswear that fits me well...
My friend is a small guy, but not tiny. He is probably 5 ft 6 or so, and very slim. Men's shirts with a 14.5 collar simply didn't fit him. For the most part, the sleeves were way too long — even the 32–33's — and so were the shoulders. The Banana Republic smalls were even too big, which I didn't know was humanly possible. He was a good sport about it, and he and his girlfriend and I were eventually able to find a few — but just a few — shirts that fit.
Of course, I couldn't resist trying on a some shirts myself, whereupon I was once again confronted with the all-too-familiar problem of having boobs and hips. My neck is a 15.5, but if you have ever tried to button a 15.5 — or even a 16.5 — men's shirt over a pair of size Ds, you know how impossible it is. The 17.5 fits fine around the chest and hips, but is just way, way too big everywhere else. Of course, some brands work better than others (CK is my current go-to for shirts), but overall it was just one of those days where nothing fits quite right.
On days like this, sometimes I wish that I didn't have boobs or hips, or at least had less, um, ample ones. But my boobs and my hips are a part of me, and I feel comfortable with them; I just wish that the clothing I like worked for the body I have. Sigh.
I was also "sir'd" twice. (Usually, clerks aren't sure what to call me, so they don't use a pronoun at all.) One of those times was particularly awkward today. A salesclerk said, "Can I help you sir?" I turned around and he said, "oh, ma'am, I'm sorry." I said, "it's okay." He apologized again, and to try to make him feel less awkward, I said "I have a men's shirt on, so I understand." He looked at me a minute and then said, "Well, your haircut confuses us."
What?! Who is this "us?" And what is so incredibly confusing about a woman with short hair? The "confusion" point annoyed me in a way that being called sir never does. Grrr!
Holy crap, it's October! If anyone knows how that happened, email me.
If you follow me on FB, you know I love T-shirts and have recently designed some that you can purchase for your very own! $5 of each sale supports this site. The rest goes to Skreened. I chose them because they seem socially responsible (but they're not cheap!). More designs coming soon.
With the plethora of independent T-shirt sellers out there, there's no excuse for parading your queer self around town in dull shirts that say things like "Quiksilver" (full disclosure: I love Quiksilver). So I went to Etsy, found the coolest T-shirts, ordered 10-15 of them (some were donated), and wore them around for a couple months. Here are my top picks (not in order, though the first two are probably my favorites!).
Dana Gibson's Etsy shop contains simple artistic homages to--in her words--"all creatures, big and small, except for horses." The green four-shark design (left) comes printed on an American Apparel shirt. It instantly became my favorite T-shirt and has held that position for months. The high-quality printing survives lots of washings. $20.
...And this is my close second favorite! Chris, the owner of the Ideaka shop, specializes in designs that tend to incorporate maps, bicycles, and/or birds. I get a ton of compliments every time I wear this shirt, and the quality of the printing is impressive. Printed on an American Apparel shirt. The price is steep, but I'd rather get this shirt than two Hurley tees at Target or something. $28.
Lara, owner of 237inc, has some cool designs--some of which are explicitly queer (one of my favorites just says "gayish"). I don't love the Fruit-of-the-Loom shirt it was printed on, but I do love my "I heart coffee" design, especially the cool print job, which makes each shirt a little different from the next. Reasonably priced. $20.
This is the softest T-shirt I've ever owned. I'm not in love with this particular design (though I do like the "Grow More" one a lot). The collar is a little larger and thinner than on other shirts. I end up wearing it to sleep because it's so incredibly soft. I guess it's made out of bamboo(?!). $28.
Yeah, this is a little dorky, but we all know that dorky is in. Jodi Stiefvater's store, TheSimpleLaugh, caters to geocachers, map-lovers, and coffee drinkers. Unfortunately, not all sizes and styles are available now; let's hope she makes more. $9.
If you're looking for something a little different from the norm, but still cool, check out RetroPopNamu's store, which riffs on Japanese vintage style to create a variety of interesting designs. I love my bullet train design (pictured right), although after 8-10 washes, the graphic is already fading a bit. These shirts run a little larger than most, and the collar seems kind of thin and stretches out easily. Still, it's a cool enough shirt that I'd buy from this store again. $28.
As Etsy shops go, ZenThreads is pretty large. They have a terrific assortment of shirts from which to choose--tons of animals, but also miscellaneous designs featuring astronauts, ampersands (I disapprove of ampersands, just FYI), and hops. I got the one pictured left, and while it's cool, the contrast doesn't show up nearly as well on the actual shirt. They use American Apparel tees. Good price, too. $18.
Dark Cycle Clothing
Dark Cycle Clothing specializes in shirts of a few categories, the largest of which is "animals on bicycles." While the print is way too big (and maybe a little too blatantly hipstery) for this shirt to be a favorite of mine, I like their art. I suggest getting a higher-contrast shirt/print pairing than the squirrel one (pictured), which is what I have. Printed on an organic American Apparel shirt. $25.
This adamantly political, left-leaning, anarchist, feminist, environmentally-conscious shop prints on used tees from thrift stores. A good idea, but I don't like not knowing the brand ahead of time--even though I ordered my usual size, the shirt I received ended up being way too big for me. Plus, I didn't like that it was already a little pilled. Still, an awesome idea. $18.
There you have it--awesome tees to spice up your fall. Yay for supporting Etsy and independent businesses! And if you have a great idea for a BW shirt, let me know--we'll make it happen.
After a year, my Butch at the Beach post is still one of my most popular, but I wanted to write a couple follow-up posts to answer some great questions I've gotten from readers. Here are a few you've been asking:
What other swimming-related questions have come up for you this summer? (I'll probably be writing another swimwear post soon and will answer as many as I can.) What tips and tricks would you give to other butches about swimwear and beachwear?
Okay, folks: we're in the throes of summer, and it's time for a butch fashion refresher. (Note: The exception to these is Pride, where you can break any fashion rules you want. I say: if full frontal nudity is accepted, your belt and shoes don't have to match.)
1. Now is a perfect time to go shopping for summer stuff, because it's all on clearance! I love waiting till a season's underway, then snagging the good stuff for half price.
2. Athletic shorts are to be worn only if you are doing something athletic. Going out to dinner does not qualify as "athletic." (Hiking shorts are a different matter--I'm talking about mesh or nylon basketball or running-type shorts.)
3. White belts are IN, and so are light grey ones. Pair with light-colored pants or shorts, and shoes that are not completely black. Check out the photo at the right. Soooo hot!
4. Experiment with lighter fabrics, like linen and seersucker. They're actually kind of fun. If you don't know where to start, try cream-colored linen shorts or a seersucker button-up shirt.
5. No pleated shorts (please).
6. Boat shoes and deck shoes are in. Wearing them with socks is out.
7. It's perfectly acceptable to wear black socks with athletic sneakers if all three of the following apply: (1) the socks are athletic-type and barely go above your ankle; (2) A significant portion of your shoes is black; (3) Your shoes are not the least bit dressy.
8. It can be hard to find men's shorts that aren't absurdly long. If you have this problem, too, check out--I kid you not--the golf shorts at a fancy department store. Most are dorky, but some are awesome. Plus they have secret pockets. Another place to look: "outdoorsy" stores like REI. Many hiking shorts are versatile enough to be worn anywhere.
9. Choose short-sleeve button-up shirts made of light material, and not too wide in the sleeve. You're going for this look, not this one.
10. Get goofy. Summer's a great time to experiment with colors and patterns you wouldn't ordinarily wear. So break some of your usual rules--heck, break some of mine, too--and go have fun!
Everyone knows that butches love boots. It's one of those iconic accouterments that make us feel kickass. So today, I'm giving you a quick guide to casual boots (e.g., boots that can be worn with jeans, khakis, Kuhls... basically anything besides dress pants).
There are several types of casual boots. I'll list some, and then you should check out my favorite picks from my new casual boots section in the Butch Store. My choices were mostly about style, but in part about size, since I know that many butches have trouble finding men's styles in small sizes. (If that's a problem for you, you might also check out this site.)
Frye Dakota Boot
It's been a long time since work boots were just used for work. Work boots look great with jeans, and can even be worn to most non-physical-labor workplaces on casual days. Many come with steel toes, which are super cool, but not really necessary (and actually pretty heavy) unless you work in construction or in a machine shop or something. I especially like Frye Dakotas (pictured), but there are tons of great work boot options from many other brands, including Caterpillar, Thorogood (often made in the USA), and Wolverine.
I'm going to lump Australian work boots in with Chelseas, since they look so similar. The basic point is that they fit like a glove and are easy to pull on and off because of the elastic sides. For the quality, it's hard to beat these Blundstones (pictured)--but if you want something dressier, get a pair that looks more like these (the big differences are the polish/shininess and what the sole looks like viewed from the side). Fun fact: according to Wikipedia (which is never wrong), the Stormtroopers' boots in Star Wars were plain ol' black Chelsea boots, painted white.
To Boot New York Crosby
I used to hate chukkas, but I have to admit that they've grown on me. They're stylish, come in great colors, and work in all seasons. Chukkas are ankle-height (the equivalent of mid-tops in tennis shoe terms) and usually have just 2-3 eyelets. I like this To Boot New York pair (pictured, also comes in a dark chocolate brown), and Timberland and Johnston & Murphy make nice ones, too, including these and these.
I don't usually think of engineers and motorcyclists as heavily overlapping categories, but boot names are the exception. Made of heavy leather, these are usually taller than average boots and have a strap at the ankle and/or the calf for adjusting the fit. Unsurprisingly, Harley-Davidson has some cool styles.
BED: STU Culture Boots
This is a catch-all category that basically encompasses boots that look cool and don't serve a specific purpose or fall into a specific style (neither the ones I've listed here, nor hiking, Western, etc.). Many of them have features that emphasize form over function--for example, white soles instead of tan or
Wolverine 1883 Mayall DGs
brown or black rubber ones. There are bunches of great-looking ones to suit every butch's personality, including these "Culture Boots" (eh?) by BED:STU (the blue ones, pictured above), and these Wolverine 1883 Mayall DGs (pictured right).
It probably goes without saying that all of the boots I've written about here, as well as most of the ones in The Butch Store, are "men's," so it may be harder for you to find the right fit; if you're like most women, your feet are smaller and/or narrower than the average man's. But with patience, you'll find brands that work for you. (And here's a hint: using these insoles will increase your shoe size by a half to a full size!). Hope you enjoy the new Butch Store additions.