You can only imagine how many scratchy dresses I’ve had to put on: Nazarene from 3-17 = 32 bazillion dresses. And I never felt quite right in any of them. I still remember dressing up as an old man for halloween one year–suit, vest, plastic cigar, bowler hat—and feeling more comfortable my skin than I had yet. If only I could dress like an old man every day, I thought. So, let’s just fast forward 36 years: and yeah–now I dress like an old man–I mean, a really good-looking old man, but still.
The trick for me has been to marry my cheap, thrift-shop-loving soul with my desire to pull of a look that I can finally swing: sharp-dressed man.
So, yeah, I thrift for ties. And for shirts. I’m having a decent amount of luck with women’s-cut dress shirts (LL Bean, Land’s End, Ralph Lauren, Gap). I have unsuccessfully attempted to tailor men’s shirts to fit me (something my tailor friends tell me is a physical impossibility). And vests just need a little bust tuck to fall just right.
But pants? Tricky. I have Cathy the Tailor to thank for my new-found skill of the waist-alter and crotch-lift. (tailoring moves, people). Now, because I can fiddle around with thrifted men’s suit jackets and pants, I can capture the quality and drape of suiting.
We all know this but I will go ahead and say it here: women’s clothes are made from a myriad of inane fabrics that I officially, break up with. (It’s you, not me, various lightweight polyesters wit no extra seams allowances to work with.)
Now I walk out into the world feeling like I am finally wearing the clothes I’ve always been meant to wear: shirt, tie, wing tips. Sometimes a vest. One of these days–when my tailoring skills catch up with my vision–I’ll wear a jacket, one off of a rack that I will have tracked down at a thrift store for next to nothing, poured my thread and my time and my back into and then given myself as a gift.
I wouldn’t say I’m trying to look like a man. I’m not trying to claim masculinity. I’m just trying to wear clothes that make me feel like myself. I don’t want to look like anybody but me. Really. It’s not really dressing like a man. I like to call it dressing mannishly.