The summer is a bit of a tricky time fashion wise. (Especially for a lover of the vintage Chap style. There’s a lot of tweed involved.) While you really want to be wearing the bare minimum, there is a never ending struggle of “the dysphoria” looming above you. Wearing a binder in anything about 18°C is like living in a sweatbox – trust me, being able to feel the sweat dripping down inside your binder is the least entertaining thing. I felt for years that my only option was to grit myself and go for baggy t-shirt and shorts. After all that was cool (temperature not fashion), and it didn’t matter if I wore my binder. BUT since I have allowed myself to open up more about NB and how I present, this feeling of need, to look “masculine” has faded. Afterall, I am not masculine, anymore than I am feminine so why should I have to suffer for the sake of conforming to gender stereotype that I am not.
I have never understood, why it is that masculine is the default in fashion. Mens clothes, at least in this more modern era, are just not up to scratch. I feel we lack a experimental bone in our bodies when it comes to men’s fashion on the high street. Why should every male identifying person fit into the same 2 or 3 boxes of what man is? It is high time that men’s fashion was given a long hard look and told to pull up its socks, so to speak.
I have spent many years staring longingly at the fabric patterns and designs on summer dresses and skirts that I have never felt comfortable enough to wear, the closest men’s alternative being hawaiian shorts. Honestly, it’s just not on.
Bring back the silks and embroideries, the patterns and quality cuts. It’s not like we’re not seeing this in women’s wear on the high street – it’s not as expensive as you might think. And not only will this allow for much better dressed chaps, but it starts to blur the lines between masculine and feminine, creating a beautiful mish-mash of gender and fashion. Boys and girls should not be defined by their clothes after all.
On a more personal note, I have found myself, as ever, abandoning the high street in favour of a more vintage style. In more recent times, I have started to make a move towards the beach and play wear of the 1920s and 30s. I have found that the rascally looks of pre-teens from those periods as well as the carefree clothes of 20 something women – now liberated from corsets and hoops – are a perfect, practically androgynous place to start looking for easy summer wears.
There is no harm in donning a boater instead of a tshirt and cap, no matter what gender you identify as.
This is a very simple look, taking inspiration from the sailor suits that littered children’s fashion from the Victorian era through to the 1920s and 30s – though this is a look that has never really left us, just evolved. However, the version that I’ve created also has it’s base in 20s beach wear, with a modern twist.
The blouse is a super cute find in my mum’s clothes from the 80s. It’s vintage Laura Ashley, but you can find similar pieces on ebay and vintage stores if you’re lucky. The best way I would go with getting hold of a blouse like this is to get a detachable sailor collar – etsy is a good call for these and you can also make your own, it’s a super simple sew, and plenty of people have put DIY collars online.
You don’t want the blouse to be tight, the look comes from it being slightly “oversized” even though it’s not. The vintage style that I am trying to emulate doesn’t push the modern idea of hugging curves in the same way. Plus for me, a lot of my body issues come from my chest and so for me being able to hide that was a baggy, flowing top is very comforting.
The shorts follow this progression. Yes, they’re tight at the waist but they are a loose fit, styled after 30s/40s beach shorts. Again these were a lucky find in my local charity shop (which is incidentally the best charity shop in the world), but I would encourage people to be looking in places like Marks and Spencers, they currently have some outstanding vintage designs, and H&M has some great stuff – hint, the shorts in men’s wear are generally longer and baggier so they can be worn to look more like this style.
It’s meant to be cheeky and cute but not childish, the larger look of the blouse with the high waisted shorts keeps you walking that line.
As for the shoes, I’m not completely sold on the brogues, even though they match my belt. I was going out for the day and wanted to go for comfort, but I think possibly white deck shoes or canvas slip-ons would have been better, or some cute blue mary-janes. Ah, we all live and learn. The socks on the other hand, are cute beyond cute. Stripes and frills add to the child-like fun, and the little anchors add just that final touch to the nautical aesthetic. Perfect for a summer day out with the family.
I wanted to keep this simple, so didn’t feel a need to go OTT with the accessories. The boater is a staple of the summer, if you don’t have a boater, you go and get yourself one this second. Unfortunately, a good quality one isn’t all that easy to find, at least not on a tight budget, but shop around online and possibly try and find a local hatters (yes, a HATTERS) to see what you can find. Again, vintage shops may have something, but the time of year is a real hot point for these.
Round sunglasses are really on point at the moment. You can find them in most high street shops, but they don’t work for everyone, so play with shapes, sizes and styles to find the glasses that really work for you.
I hope you’ve liked this article, and sorry for such a long break! I’ll be back on weekly (sort of) articles from now on!
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Written by Holly Rose Swinyard