As trans guys, we have to navigate more obstacles than most when it comes to picking out clothes. With a few tips and tricks, the process can be made much easier.
The main thing to pay attention to should be the way your clothing fits you; patterns are a close second. You want your clothes to flatter your body shape, using patterns to draw the eye to or away from areas, and fit to contour your form.
If you have little-to-no hips, are on the lean side, and average/tall height, you’re one of the lucky few that don’t need much advice and have the most versatile body type for modern menswear. The best tip is to wear clothes that hug your body while allowing room for movement, and are the right length for your height. The same advice goes for guys who don’t fit the norm, but it requires a bit more thinking. If that’s your body type, here’s what you can do.
Below the Belt
Many of us trans guys have broader hips than most pants are geared for. With the right cut, you can minimize the appearance of a larger waist, while maintaining a trim look throughout the leg.
Taper cut pants are a type of slim pant that are slightly looser in the thighs than in the calf. For guys with larger thighs, this provides room to move but a fit close enough to look like a regular slim fit. However, if you’re on the self conscious side and want to hide the shape of your legs, a slim fit or a slim-straight fit will likely be your best bet. With a straight cut pant, you run the risk of looking swamped out by the excess fabric.
Another tactic is sizing up in the waist, and sizing down in the cut. For example, if you’re a size 30 waist and you prefer a slim fit, but you find the waist or thighs too tight, try wearing a 31 or a 32 waist and instead going for a skinny fit. The great thing about mens pants is that the waist and length measurements are separate, and coupled with the fit, you can eventually find an option that is right for you by experimenting with all the possibilities.
For pre-op trans guys, hiding your chest under a shirt can be a struggle. Luckily, patterns can help you. When a pattern is highly symmetrical, changes in how the fabric lays are more noticeable. Meaning, when you wear a symmetrical pattern, it would highlight the curve of a binder or chest more-so than if you were to wear a less rigid pattern. When a pattern isn’t uniform, a slight bump due to a chest will be less noticeable as the pattern will camouflage it.
A common notion is that if you want to hide a lack of bulging biceps, wear baggier clothing. The truth? A properly fitting shirt can give toned arms to a guy who hasn’t picked up a weight in his life. You want a shirt thats snug through the arms and shoulders, and looser (not baggy) in the midsection.
For casual shirts, the hem should end around 2 inches below the waist of your pants, and for dress shirts it should be around the bottom of your butt. For more slender guys, stores like American Eagle, Forever 21, Express Men, and Zara offer shirts on the slimmer side. If you are very curvy and have a larger chest (and wallet), there are custom shirt companies that make tailored shirts for trans-masculine bodies. The most well known is Saint Harridan – clothing designed exclusively for trans* men and masculine women – with Kipper Clothiers and Bindle & Keep ranking closely. However, with trial and error, there will be a shirt out there that fits you properly.
Dressing for Your Height
If you’re short, it’s surprisingly easy to look like the mature man you are, rather than the age usually associated with your height. Once again, the key is fit and pattern. Smaller, thinner, vertical patterns will likely fit you the best. Polka dots, gingham, and thin vertical stripes will be your friends. Rugby stripes will be your enemy. The pattern should be proportional to you, the smaller you are, the smaller the pattern. This will make you seem larger in comparison.
Avoid things that divide the visual flow – horizontal stripes, chunky shoes, and thick belts fall into this category. Suspenders are a stylish way to draw the eye up while holding your pants up. This visual streamline shouldn’t end at your feet. Avoid square toed shoes, and go for a pointed or rounded toe, like a desert boot, oxford, or wingtip shoe.
If your pants are too long, you can cuff them once or twice for a rugged look (I recommend this only for casual pants) or get them tailored. Pants that break several times at the ankle will make you shorter – you want to fill your pants, not be drowned in them.
There is no shame in buying clothes from the boy’s section. They fit a wider range of smaller bodies, and it’s cheaper too! I recently bought a boy’s large T shirt, although I usually wear a men’s small just fine (I’m 5’7-8). It’s probably one of the best fitting shirts I own, and it was only 5 dollars. No shame.
If you’re too tall for the regular selection of clothes, there is a “big and tall” section featured in most stores, and available at a variety of specialty shops. Avoid wearing clothes that are too baggy to compensate for your height, you can still find clothes that fit properly in the tall sections.
These guidelines can help you look good and feel good! For more advice like this, check out The Dapper Matter (thedappermatter.tumblr.com), where I feature rugged, modern menswear modeled by both trans men and cis men, in addition to general style tips. If you have any questions or want more specific tips or advice, drop on by and I’ll answer them within a day. Happy dressing, Point 5cc!