Allex Knight’s Winter Getup
(Photo Cred: Shaina Chin)
(Photo Cred: Shaina Chin)
kieranthehuman asked: I’m sure you get this a lot, but what about for those of us who can’t afford to spend a lot of money clothes. I have the worst time passing as androgynous because I have a very curvy body. I am always looking for different clothes or men’s shirts that actually fit me. Any sites that advertise queer clothes are usually so expensive. Where can I find other options besides scrounging and hoping at the thrift store?
Well kieranthehuman, there’s no easy answer. There’s no one stop solution. Il y a non pas de problème.
But here are some ideas and tips:
1. Shop the right kind of cheap. Gap, Old Navy, ASOS, outlet stores, H&M’s clothes (but NOT accessories), department store sale racks, all good. But don’t shop at places that are too cheap, because then you’ll just end up spending more money to replace crappy items. I generally avoid Forever 21 and Merona at Target for that reason. If the full retail price seems too good to be true, it’s probably going to fall apart. I bought some galoshes from Target a few years ago for $20 and they didn’t last 3 months. So go cheap, but not too cheap.
2. Thrift Thrift Thrift! Check out the thrift stores tag for inspiration on how many amazing things you can thrift. For more tips, Putthison has a great article on successful menswear thrifting. The most important thing I took away from it was to not look for anything specific.
3. Take things from you friends and grandparents. You never know what amazing vintage ties your grandfather has that he doesn’t wear anymore, or what delicious lacy tights your ex boyfriend needs to give away. If you go to school, check out whatever your school has for free boxes. Oberlin had a big “free store” at the end of the year where some of my friends used to get their entire wardrobe. Also look at the www.freecycle.org list for your town. (If you are under 18, talk to your parents or guardians about how to make a freecycle exchange safely.)
4. TAILOR! For curvier people looking at menswear, tailoring is key. Find a shirt that fits in the shoulders, arm length, chest, and hips, and then adjust the torso length, torso width, or arm width as necessary. I’ve gotten amazing button-ups at Goodwill for $5 and then tailored them for $10. $15 for a really nice fitted shirt to me is a good deal. Some people with wide hips who want a more fitted look will prefer bringing the sides of the shirt in at the waist and back out at the hips. A lot of the queer clothing designers do this. See this post for more info on that particular type of tailoring.
More tailoring help:
5. Become friends with the people who work at Gap, and then use their employee discount.
6. Make a shopping list. Write down what you need, and then strategize when you will be able to afford each thing. I don’t do this, and look what happened to me. Every time I walk down Boylston street, I leave with a new pair of shoes.
7. Splurging can be a good thing. Sometimes you may fall in love with something that you weren’t intending on getting. If it goes with your wardrobe, GET IT. I can’t even tell you how many impulse buys of mine turned out to be my favorite things to wear. The key is to have LESS CLOTHES but ones that you love. So don’t be afraid to go with your gut instinct. On the other end, don’t buy things you don’t love just because they are cheap. You think you’re saving money, but you’re really just throwing it away on something you aren’t really going to wear.
8. Browse. Especially if you enjoy shopping anyway, browsing can be great for finding unexpected amazing things on sale, getting to know the market better, and brainstorming about what you want to add to your wardrobe in the future. I spend about 90% of my shopping time browsing without anything particular in mind. But then again, I’m a shopaholic:
9. Know when the sales happen. If you try something in stores, check the online site to see deals. Sign up for your favorite stores’ mailing lists for insider coupon info. Shop on the off season if you’re confident you’ll still love that item in a few months. Kinowear recommends googling “name of online store” + coupon code before buying anything online. They say that a great promo / coupon code site is: www.retailmenot.com
10. Clear out your closet/ Sell things you don’t wear anymore. Ebay, Craigslist, Buffalo Exchange, Second Time Around. Or even just posting things on your blog for sale. Clearing out your closet is also a good way to remind yourself of what you have that you DO wear, and you’ll have an easier time filling in the gaps.
Thomas’ closet floor, Indiana, 2010
Related Posts: Shopping on a Budget: Plus-Sized Masculine Work Clothes
Anonymous asked: Hi! I've just moved to Boston and was wondering if you (or anyone else) might know where I can find cheap boyish clothes to buy. I'm pretty short and a pear shape so I don't know where to even start looking (not to mention how expensive Boston is!). Also, I'm looking for vests in particular. Your blog is really amazing and has already helped me figure out my style! I can't wait to buy the clothes and actually look "dapper"! Haha! Thank you! =)
Welcome! Boston actually has a lot of amazing finds if you know where to go. Buffalo Exchange, Goodwill, and Boomerangs are my favorite thrift stores. I’ve gotten so many great things at Goodwill…. beautiful boys’ shirts for 5$ each. Goodwill will have vests too. Department stores are my next haven for cheap clothes. Macy’s, Lord & Taylor, Marshalls, Filenes, etc. They have several locations, but you can hit a lot of good ones at Downtown Crossing and Boylston St. And if you are looking for boy clothes, the H&M at Downtown Crossing has a kids section with some amazing stuff for really cheap (and the added benefit of all-gender dressing room.) I also love the CambridgeSide Galleria. My favorite affordable stores there are Old Navy, Macy’s, American Eagle, Express, and Gap. If you catch the sales at Express and Gap you can get amazing finds.
As you can see, I’ve done a lot of shopping here. Any other Boston favorites?
Colorful, Dapper, Preppy menswear for work. Obsessed. This Oakland-residing school teacher’s outfit is totally knocking my invisible socks off. Known as Bookmonkey5000, she includes dapper tips about tie knots for short queers, getting custom made pants from makeyourownjeans.com, and more sartorial reflections.
Her words about the first outfit: I’d long been eyeing some beautiful blue suede Nordstrom 1901 Oxfords, as seen in this post by the amazing gentlemen at Closet Freaks, but sadly, those don’t come in a small enough size for me. So I ordered the Ely 2s and then switched out the blue laces for white ones to snazz them up a bit. These chinos are one of a few pairs that I’ve had custom made from makeyourownjeans.com. Shipping is expensive, so they can run you anywhere from $70-$100 a pair, and they’re not designer quality or anything, but they fit me the way I want them to fit, which is more than I can say for almost every other pair of pants in the universe.
Her words about the second outfit: I wanted to pair some simple classics (white OCBD, loafers) with some more modern pieces. I’m by no means a flashy dresser, so pairing these bright blue jeans with a plain white oxford makes me feel like my outfit isn’t too loud. I’ve been really digging knit ties lately; they can make jeans dressier or trousers more casual. Every tie at The Tie Bar is 15 bucks, and while the quality isn’t stellar, you can pick up quite a few nice ties without breaking the bank.
Dapper queer tip: Since I’m kinda short (5’ 5”), my ties are often too long. Because of that, I like to use knots that “eat up” a lot of tie and make the tie shorter. In this look, I used a double four-in-hand. The Knize knot is also a good one for the same reason. The double Windsor is also a large knot that’s good for shorties, but I prefer the asymmetrical look of the Knize or double four-in-hand.