Move over, prim girlie-girls. Soccer-playin’, skateboardin’ tomboys with don’t-care-mussed-up-hair are carving out a niche in the fashion world.
Of course, some fashion designers have long experimented with gender-bending collections, such as the late Alexander McQueen. Menswear for women, skirts for men, androgyny for both sexes. Other iconic enfants terribles, such as John Galliano and Jean Paul Gaultier, also took stabs at challenging social conventions about clothes. Burgeoning brands such as Band of Outsiders have also staked an edge in defining tomboy-ish fashion for women, especially with their new line, Girl.
This last spring, a new e-commerce site emerged as the champion of tomboy lifestyle and culture. Wildfang, a Portland-based brand, curates clothing and accessories that fit under the umbrella label of “tomboy.” In a way, they’re aiming to take back ownership of the term, which, judging by Wildfang’s 5,000 Twitter followers, resonates strongly with a certain kind of girl.
The name tomboy certainly surfaces many emotions, especially if you’ve ever been picked on for hanging with the dudes, or if you spent your early years with sun-toasted skin and scraped shins after too much outdoor roughhousing. Maybe grace wasn’t your greatest attribute. But then again, tomboys don’t cry, do they?
Luckily, the tomboy look has many bold pioneers: boyish gamines such as Audrey Hepburn, rockers such as Alison Mosshart, androgynous jocks such as Agyness Deyn. These iconoclasts made the tomboy look their own, replete with their against-the-grain personalities and distinct style, setting examples for those of us who also wanted to break the rules of what girls and boys are supposed to look like.
So go ahead: Step out with your own tomboy look, with just a few staple pieces in your closet. Get inspired by McQ’s 2013 resort collection graphic pants, patterned blazers and a chunky sweater with a big arrow down the front. Or check out Wildfang’s guide to tomboy style and etiquette.
The key here is spotting clean, streamlined shapes in sharp cuts that accentuate your shoulders and lean legs. Pick clothing in subdued colors, such as muted, beiges, whites, blacks and grays. Invest in a classic, minimalistic blazer, or use the jacket from a pantsuit. Match the blazer with a pair of cropped straight-leg pants that hit at your ankle, and throw on a crisp button-up underneath. Top off the look with a pair of loafers or oxford heels.
Wear comfy outfits that let you joke around the guys while still looking stylish. Try mixing simple layers made from athletic material. The less hassle, the better. Pull off a casual-cool outfit with an anorak jacket or this Rag & Bone varsity jacket, a T-shirt and slouchy boyfriend jeans. Slip on some high-tops. Done.
Here’s a favorite, the preppy gamine. Slightly more dainty than the menswear-inspired look, gamines wear minimalistic outfits that give a hint of the flirt inside. Try wearing a loose blouse and a flared skirt or trousers. Or, throw a long blazer over a short monochrome dress. Rock a pixie haircut with barely-there makeup. Finish it off with a mischievous attitude.