Autostraddle (feature image) described Ari Fitz’s new YouTube androgynous style chronicle, TOMBOYISH, as “a hybrid documentary and fashion show.” My initial thought: WHAT THE WHA? So, I had to go see for myself. Not only was their description spot on, but within minutes I was hooked on the series, desperately combing through Fitz’s channel looking for more of these hybrid videos celebrating androgynous style.
Sartorially smart folks know that the key to head-turning swag is knowing how to blend “off limit” colors, patterns, and textures to create a personal style that is both unique and affirms one’s identity. And, Fitz is dropping her fashion-forward knowledge on all of us! For example, in TOMBOYISH II: How I Style with Prints + Patterns” Fitz points out:
Again, a lot of my TOMBOYISH friends steer clear of floral, but seriously it’s one of my favorite patterns. And, you can still keep your andro thug card and rock it thoroughly.
Church! So, what else does Fitz’s have in store for us? Well, we interviewed the creative mastermind behind the series to find out more about her and what’s next.
dapperQ: Many of us know you from MTV’s Real World (season 29). But for those just getting an introduction to all things Ari, please tell us a bit about yourself?
Ari: I’m Ari and I’m a storyteller.
I work as a filmmaker and model/actor in Oakland, CA. On top of this, I recently fell in love with YouTube and spend a lot of my time creating videos for my audience there. But, the one thing that’s consistent in all that I do is: story. Whether I’m behind or in front of a camera, there’s is always a narrative at play.
dapperQ: You recently launched an incredibly cool style web series, TOMBOYISH. What’s it all about?
Ari: TOMBOYISH is a style web series highlighting androgynous style amongst women. Every Tuesday, I post a TOMBOYISH video on my YouTube channel. An episode might include me styling my own unisex wardrobe like this summer in San Francisco video, raiding the closets of other “tomboys” like Kelly, collaborating with menswear designers to style looks for women and more.
dapperQ: What inspired TOMBOYISH?
Ari: While on The Real World, my girlfriend at the time and well… the world found my androgynous style off putting. For some reason, it was nearly impossible for me to explain how and why I felt sexy in a pair of men’s chinos. Truth was and still is: I just do!
I realized there was a need for something like TOMBOYISH after receiving dozens of emails, tweets, texts and comments from women that felt the same exact way. Interestingly enough – despite the obvious need for this kind of content – there weren’t any style video series out there for us. Well, until now. [Winks and smiles.]
dapperQ: Our team is already swooning over some of the amazing looks you’ve rocked on the first episodes of the series. How would you describe your style aesthetic?
Ari: First, thank you! I’ve realized recently that my aesthetic is a blend of streetwear, grunge and minimalism. All of those things are typically at play when I style.
However, TOMBOYISH exists to show the range out there. I do interviews and raid the closets of other “tomboys” to do just that. Many andro women feel best in boat shoes and a crisp polo or a leisure suit with loafers. I plan to feature those women, as well.
dapperQ: Has it been a journey defining your style? How has your style changed over the years?
Ari: When I was younger, I liked the shock factor (think Lady Gaga meets Elton John). I once designed and wore head to toe royal blue felt, just to do it! Now as I’ve gotten older it’s less about the audience’s perception of what I’m wearing and more about how my clothing makes me feel.
That said, I continue to evolve. I love the challenge of getting up in the morning and having to create something new. That’s part of the reason I’m selling and giving away most of the items on TOMBOYISH through my shop. It forces me to find new pieces and experiment.
dapperQ: Have you experienced any challenges when it comes to dressing dapper queer? What are they?
Ari: By the way, don’t we all just love the word “dapper”?
Challenges are tenfold. From my mother passive aggressively asking me to be the “girl she gave birth to” to having a fight with my girlfriend on national television about wearing a men’s tee, it can be tough. It baffles me how much we put on clothing and presentation.
All I can say to any of this is it’s taken me a long time to genuinely love the person I am and the person I am becoming. The way I dress and the almost instantaneous confidence that it gives me contributes to that self-love. I’m not interested in giving that away for anyone.
All I can hope is TOMBOYISH positively affects more and more women like myself. Because, goddamn it feels good to rock a suit!
dapperQ: Who or what has most influenced your style?
Ari: I don’t think I can point to a single person and say they’ve influenced me. I can point to a single entity: The Internet. I have spent so many nights and days on Tumblr, Instagram, Lookbook.nu, blogs, etc… gorging myself on all things tomboy, andro, unisex, dapper, queer style. It’s a bit of an obsession of mine. I’ve collected thousands of screenshots that I want to emulate, that inspire me, etc.
These files also make me feel incredibly good about my decision to be comfortably and openly “dapper.”
Ari: Oh man. This question always gets me going and it changes daily.
Right now: Kurt Cobain, Coco Chanel, A$AP Rocky, Aaliyah, Coco & Breezy, Sheila Rashid, Maxwell and Dao-Yi of Public School, Ronnie Fieg, Ricardo Tisci of Givenchy, Aleali May, Karl Lagerfield, Ruby Rose and Angel Haze.
I just really love people who have a definitive style especially as I’m still exploring and finding the things that work specifically for me.
dapperQ: What is the one article of clothing you cannot live without?
Ari: Why’d you have to ask this one!?
This is tough. I’m sure most won’t expect this, but I’d have to say my black booties. I can wear a completely androgynous look – nothing contours to my body, everything obscures my femininity – and then throw on a pair of heeled black booties and it transforms the look.
Runner-ups: my denim & leather jackets.
dapperQ: What can we expect next from you?
Oh ya know… a lot! Get ready for some amazing insightful interviews under TOMBOYISH and some fun style guides for those moments when we’re stumped staring at our closet.
One thing: I’d recommend everyone subscribe to the channel and if they have any content they’d like to see explored on TOMBOYISH to let us know!