Ask dapperQ: Curvy Androgyny?

Many of our readers eagerly awaited the launch of specialty “tomboy” and “androgynous” brands, such as VEER and Wildfang. These brands advertised that they were finally going to make androgyny accessible to more people; that is, if by more people you mean more tall, skinny bodies that do not represent the majority of us.

Wildfing ad campaign via Cool Hunting

A number dapperQs want to cop this awesome modern androgynous look, particularly because so many of us do not fit neatly into the “high femme” / “masculine dapper” style binary, but are at a loss as to how to do that when you’re fat or curvy. We’ve received countless requests for us to provide style advice for curvy androgynous style that even BuzzFeed reached out to us requesting tips on how to nail the look. So, we obliged, but once again, BuzzFeed snubbed our input and ran their article “19 Ways to Rock Androgynous Style Like No Other” without our recommendations.

Image via Wiffle Gif

Oh wellz. Even without our advice, the article offered some spot on tips (even though gender diversity was lacking); but we think we have much more to add. Here are dapperQ’s 10 Commandments of Curvy Androgynous Style:

1. Androgyny Is for Every Gender and Every Body!

Everything Curvy
16HEELS-popup Mojo-Juju-1
Top via Everything Curvy and Chic
Bottom left via The New York Times. Bottom right courtesy musician Mojo Ju Ju via dapperQ

Androgyny has been defined as “neither specifically feminine nor masculine” OR as “having BOTH masculine and feminine characteristics.” Yet, much of today’s androgynous style tends to be explicitly more masculine leaning: curves are shunned; feminine adornments are discouraged; and masculine is seen as being more neutral – more ambiguous –  than feminine. Furthermore, fashion media and designers perpetuate the idea that androgyny is best represented by ultra-thin, white, curve-less bodies that were assigned female at birth (AFAB). As Hell Yeah, Agender! points out:

…you cannot be androgynous with breasts, you cannot be androgynous with a fat ass, you cannot be androgynous with hips. A large portion of the FAAB community is going to be curvy, regardless of their brains and hearts and hopes. People like myself often avoid speaking about their gender identity for fear of being mocked, or in the knowledge that they will never ‘fit into’ the community because they are not thin, waiflike, ethereal, and will never look like what genderqueer tumblrs reblog as our personal ideals.

The current aesthetic seems awfully narrow and limiting compared to the textbook definition of androgyny. Androgyny does not belong to one gender or one body type: it is for all genders and every body!

2. If You Love Your Curves, Embrace Them!

Ariel Speedwagon
Curvy_Androgyny 2

Top: Ariel Speedwagon photographed by Yi-Ching Lin for dapperQ
Bottom: Lydia O. via  Autostraddle

If you have mad Yonce-level love for your curves embrace rather than hide them. You shouldn’t have to conform to an unattainable representation of androgyny that excludes a wide range of bodies. Be a part of rewriting the androgynous fashion narrative to include more diverse, gorgeous, androgynous folx!

3. Coats, Vests, and Blazers Can Either Accentuate or Conceal Curves, Depending on Your Preference.

curvy_angrogyny Curvy_Androgyny 1

Top via hey, fat chick!
Bottom left via Geetanjali. Bottom right via Dressing Out of the Box

While some of our readers want to accentuate their curves, we also recognize that many of our readers want to conceal their curves for a variety of personal reasons that are no one’s business but the individual reader’s. Coats, vests, and blazers are great wardrobe items that can be styled to either accentuate and/or conceal curves. First, all three can help disguise the tissue that extends from your breast/chest to your axilla (underarm). Second, you can play with the fit around the waist, as well as various lengths, to achieve a look that is just right for your androgynous style goals. For fit tips, visit our style guide on Autostraddle here and here.


4. Play with Leather/Pleather.

Curvy_Androgyny 4
Majestic_Legay1 Curvy Androgyny 8
Top via Everything Curvy and Chic
Bottom left via Gender Fork. Bottom right via A Style Enthused Young Woman

THIS! Leather/pleather is timeless and is an essential wardrobe piece for any aesthetic.


5. Shoes! It’s All about the Shoes!

Andrognyous Heels lenny-kravitz-heels-nyc

Top via How to Spend It
Bottom left via Crunk and Disorderly. Bottom right via Refinery 29

Again, masculine doesn’t automatically equal more ambiguous and more neutral than feminine. It’s about the entire look and how you want to rock androgyny. And, about those heels, here’s something to think about from Hell Yeah, Agender!:

A man of average to thin build can put on glitter and lipstick and be called androgynous, he can grow his hair out and wear v neck t shirts and be called androgynous, he can wear his jeans a little too tight and his shirts a little too lacy. A woman in little make up, wearing a t shirt and jeans, with size D breasts, will never be called androgynous. She would have to bind, cut her hair, and buy her clothes from the men’s section.

So, yes, if you’re female identified, you can wear heels and still be androgynous too. Of course, a great pair of masculine dress shoes can also read as androgynous.


6. Add Makeup to Your Androgynous Arsenal.

Butch Eyeliner
majestic1 86132-5343103-SophiaWallace_ModernDandy04

Top: Comedian Julie Goldman photographed by Robin Roemer via Austostraddle
Middle left via à l’allure garçonniere. Middle right via Sophia Wallace
Bottom via Goldie Peacock

Be it a little or a lot, makeup can be another tool in your androgynous style kit. Our Editor-in-Chief personally loves her androgynous partner in just a touch of eyeliner and recommends checking out Autostraddle’s “How To Do Rad Butch Eyeliner: A Video Makeup Tutorial From Julie Goldman & Brandy Howard” for some application 101.


7. That Hair, Tho!

Long Hair Queer Accessories2

Top: Style blogger Bing via i dream of dapper
Bottom left via Qwear. Bottom right via A Style Enthused Young Woman

All lengths welcome! Visit our Editor-in-Chief’s space specifically dedicated to QPOC queer cuts here.


8. Don’t Forget Accessories.

Rings Jewlrey

Top via A Style Enthused Young Woman
Bottom left via Style Like U. Bottom right via Street Etiquette

Accessories not only add layers of stylish complexity to your ensemble, but they can attract the eye towards or away from certain areas of the body.

9. Fit is Key!

Curvy Androgyny 9
Model Ema Lu wearing un-altered button-down by Androgyny. Photo for dapperQ by Maria Steinzor

Easier said than done, right? Only a handful of the 47+ brands listed in our store guide offer a robust range of plus size options. Facing a lack of options, our readers and contributors have gotten pretty creative at troubleshooting fit issues. You can check out some of their advice, which you can find in the following:

+ Style Manual: Suits 101
+ Style Manual: Suits 201
+ Style Manual: Fashion Council answers fit questions about suits
+ Style Manual: Dress Shirts 101
+ Style Manual: The Fashion Council answers fit questions about dress shirts
+ Reader Recommendations: Trousers for curves

The best (but most expensive) way of achieving the perfect fit is to have your clothing tailored or custom made. When purchasing attire that requires alterations, remember that clothing should fit the largest parts of your body first; excess fabric can be taken in, but it’s more difficult to have clothing “let out.”


10. Thrift it!

Tailoring can be expensive, so many of our readers and writers shop at thrift stores and add the savings to their tailoring budget!

Check out some thrifting tips from the uber stylish bloggers over at Street Etiquette below. Even though they are not curvy, note how they purchase over-sized items to have tailored later. Buying over-sized and getting excess fabric taken in is key to fitting larger parts of your body.

Thrifting with Street Etiquette (From Put This On S2E2) from Put This On on Vimeo.

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  • Hi, how can I dress more androgynous without my parents finding out? My mom is trying to push me twards more form fitting clothing, and I don’t want to present myself in that way.

  • I’m going through something similar as well, I understand how hard it is to not let your parents know. They don’t like the idea of changing genders and think it’s weird to not have one. It hurts I can’t tell them but I try to be as androgynous as possible. I’ve looked at the sites and readdifferent ways. It’s hard without getting new clothes. But I work with what I’ve got I suppose. I wish I could be of more help. And you may not read this but I’m there too.

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