This week we have a grand guest post from fellow blogger and author Marie Marshall. (Visit her excellent site here.) Enjoy!
Wearing boys’ castoffs
I remember the first time I made the conscious choice to wear a boy’s garment. Strangely, it was during what must have been my most ‘femme’ fashion stage. I was thirteen, and along with my best friend I was hooked on the urban fashion of the previous year (1969), which dictated that I wear a short, tight miniskirt along with a boy’s shirt. The shirt, a UK copy of an American sports shirt – cotton, button down soft-roll collar, short sleeves, sewn-in box pleat, slim, waisted cut – was in a small, blue-and-green check, and it totally rocked. With a layered hairstyle, loopy earrings, and clumpy shoes, it rocked like Gibraltar!
Forget the styles that have come and gone since then, fast-forward to my middle age, to making-do and mending, to the point when I realise that the fashion industry can’t see me any more, and in any case it’s a waste of hard-earned money (sorry isme, but no), to my kinda superannuated soft-butch persona. Fast-forward to my having a handy, in-family source for boys’ cast-offs, to my being able to reach for outgrown jeans, shirts, biker jackets, even school uniforms (should I so desire). Ah – comfort! And it’s so cheap! It’s finite, but then so am I, and I reckon it won’t fall apart before I do.
If you go down this road, then it is important to make some concessions to conventional femininity. The look is only topclothes-deep, we are not aspiring drag-kings, and there is nothing wrong with nice underwear underneath. It feels good. It’s okay to be a middle-aged skinflint who won’t buy new clothes while there’s boys’ clobber to throw on with insouciance, but remember that it’s also possible to wear pearls with this kind of outfit, or to load your wrist with sparkly, jangly bangles. You can, with careful selection, even appear as a rêveuse in black and white with a hint of red. Sisters, it can be done.
Consider the humble bluejeans. If you can get boys’ jeans over your hips, chances are they’ll be too big in the waist. So cinch them with a belt, or the cord from an old dressing-gown, or a silk scarf. They’re too long in the leg? So roll them up to show off your socks, or cut them to knee-length, or cut them to any length. They have holes? Patch them – it doesn’t matter if you can’t get the same colour denim, go flamboyant if you wish.
The secret to scruffiness is cleanliness and a sense of purpose. It comes from inside and appears on your sleeve. However, castoffs are not necessarily scruffy. Youngsters grow at such an alarming rate that you can back-inherit some items – maybe a whole ensemble – that’s immaculate. Experiment, and let Angélique know how you get on…