From the AE Archives: Butch/Stud Fashion Panel

AE: What would your advice be to young butch and stud lesbians shopping in the menswear department?

Anita: Prepare! Shopping can be emotionally and physically draining for anyone, but particularly for those who do not like to shop and for those who are marginalized and discounted in the fashion industry. Clothing is made to fit people who fall within very narrow and limiting definitions of beauty, and this includes menswear. The Handbook of Style: A Man’s Guide to Looking Good by Esquire Magazine writes, “Are you a ‘drop six’? If you are, you’re a suit maker’s dream: Your chest is six inches larger than your waist. You can wear anything. Sadly, most of us don’t live inside those ideal tailoring measurements.”

So, even masculine clothing made for cis men is not very body-inclusive. Furthermore, butches and studs often have to deal with the judgemental stares and outright discriminatory behavior of sales staff and other customers. This is a lot to deal with: finding your own style, finding clothing that actually fits, finding clothing within your budget, and all the while guarding yourself from discrimination. I’d start by having an idea of your style. Bring images of what inspires you. Know what you are going to the store for and stick to it. Lastly, bring a friend or family member who is supportive.

Danielle: There are a few tips that I would give: 1) Know your size (measurements). If you are looking for a suit, understand that shopping ‘off of the rack’ will require adjustments. 2) Wear what you like. People will always find a reason to criticize, but be true to you! 3) Don’t be afraid to look for inspiration or advice. I ask friends for opinions all the time.

Sara: I’d advise them not to blindly trust the available sizes. They should always try on the pieces they select. Different brands carry different measurements of their sizes, so not every XS will fit the same.

Rhea Butcher & Cameron EspositoGetty Images SXSW Portrait Studio Powered By SamsungPhoto by Smallz & Raskind/Getty Images for Samsung

AE: What are some trends you’re seeing in work attire?

Anita: Masculine attire is making a “comeback” in the fashion industry. In American culture, it took a back seat to feminine attire for a few years. But, now that the market is growing (New York just held its inaugural standalone Men’s Fashion Week last summer), designers are getting more bold. I’ve been seeing more creative styling, like power clashing, Euro-style slim suits, pants with higher breaks (think ankle length), and colors that pop instead of the standard black or blue suit.

Danielle: Men are not so traditional these days and more women are wearing suits. It is great to see fashion and individuality really take off. The evolution of the suit has been my favorite trend. Between more colors, pocket squares, mixtures of prints and patterns. It’s great to see that we are becoming non-traditionalists.

AE: What about streetwear trends?

Anita: Streetwear has gone from a printed logo on a T-shirt to high fashion with interesting design. For example, the SunSun bomber I mentioned above is black with African print contrast sleeves, and Sir New York has a bomber with a “muzzle” reminiscent of a Mortal Kombat character. Don’t even get me started on shoes. Blinged out high tops with accents like glitter and leopard print have kicked the streetwear game up a notch.

Danielle: Streetwear has come a long way. I remember when styles sporty by Left Eye and Aaliyah were in and now we are adopting more of a European style. Elongated tops, ripped denim, Chelsea boots or white kicks are in trend. The resurge of all black everything works day and night. I absolutely love street streetwear. It’s something I am starting to share more and more.

AE: Who are your favorite major retailers for butch/stud fashion and why?

Anita: Uniqlo and H&M are good options for affordable androgynous streetwear and work attire. Topman and Asos are also great for slim cuts for petite butches and studs who often have a hard time finding masculine cuts that are small enough for their frames.

Danielle: That’s a difficult question to ask because it all depends on the person’s individual style. Any menswear or brand with a bit of androgynous style fits butch/stud fashion, but it all depends on what the person is looking for.

Sara: Asos and H&M. Because of my tiny posture, it’s very hard to find clothes in the men’s department that fit me at all. These retailers offer small sizes and are affordable. Asos also offers a lot of different brands, including designer ones.

AE: What do you think is over, fashionwise, for butches and studs?

Danielle: I think that more butch/stud women are looking to dress a little more clean and fitted rather than oversized clothing.

Sara: The use of the bow tie. I think it’s overrated. Yes, there are occasions to wear one, but it doesn’t have to be with every button down shirt.

Lena Waithe2016 ESSENCE Black Women In Hollywood Awards Luncheon - Red CarpetPhoto by Earl Gibson III/Getty Images for ESSENCE

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