Spring is just around the bend! At the start of spring, most people are thinking of flowers, light colored skies, and sunny weather. If you’re like me, you’ll think of sweat, the onslaught of preppy pastels, and a style retreat into comfortable t-shirts and basketball shorts.
Since starting The Dapper Matter, I’ve learned that my style and comfort doesn’t have to only come out in the fall and winter. As a trans guy, I feel like the start of spring can be an anxious time. Before I transitioned, I used layers of warm clothing to cover my body and be secure, so wearing less amounts of clothing and thinner materials in the warmer weather tends to make me uncomfortable. Additionally, binding during the heat is a stifling, sweaty mess.
But along the way, I’ve picked up a few ideas of what might help make navigating the warmer weather a bit easier.
The biggest transition: summer pants and shorts
As many of you know, finding pants can be a nightmare. Personally, I’ve always thought that shorts were worse. If shorts fit my hips, I thought I looked like I had chicken legs. If the fit was too slim, I felt it made my hips stand out even more. However, finding the right pair is possible, no matter your body type!
Colors like light grey, khaki, and olive are considered to be the best staples for a spring and summer wardrobe. If you’re adventurous, grab a pair of light red or blue shorts (or chinos) to add some variety. When wearing such a stand out color, make sure the rest of your outfit is toned down and doesn’t compete with the shorts. In general, avoid wearing denim shorts, unless you’re so style savvy that you’re seeking a particular look.
One new trend I was a huge fan of last season was stretchy material. It allows guys with bigger hips to get a more snug fit up top without sacrificing comfort, balancing out the proportions of the thighs to the calves. Luckily, this trend is continuing into the spring, so keep an eye out for stretchy material shorts (no — that does not mean basketball shorts). Another trick you can use is to cuff your shorts, which will taper your pants just at your knees, without exaggerating the curvature of your thighs.
Shirts and tops
Another way to keep stylish is to opt for short-sleeved shirts with patterns (plus, they will help camouflage visible binder lines/chest lines.) But remember — these aren’t your grandpa’s baggy summer vacation shirts. Picking the right pattern, material, and fits can keep you looking like a sleek, mature adult even when your shirt is covered in pineapples and parrots. If you’re looking to dress well without wearing a binder, these tips count double! While you want the whole shirt to be fitted, pay special attention to the sleeve width. Pick shirts with sleeves that fit closely to your arms without being too tight against those biceps.
For boot lovers like myself, letting go of my winter boots can be a struggle. But there’s just as great a variety of spring shoes out there! Boat shoes like Sperrys and other low tops are summer classics. Another great option is a canvas sneaker, like a classier pair of Chuck Taylors or Vans, or simple white sneakers. If you have more occasions to dress up, I’d suggest a pair of loafers or other summer dress shoes.
If you’re wearing shorts, you’ll want to make sure your socks are relatively hidden. Certain types of summer shoes can be worn without socks, but if that’s not up your alley you can always pick up a pack of inexpensive no show socks. And if you still want to incorporate boots into your look, you can always wear desert boots, or ones with a natural or tan color leather.
Pick your fabrics carefully
For the summer, you’ll want your clothes to keep you as cool as possible. This means wearing lighter weight fabrics, like linen and cotton, that offer breathability. Trade in your thick denim for chinos, or do a little extra searching for specialty lightweight summer denim (raw denim weighing in under 12 oz). Switch over from the warm lined jackets of winter to the thinner, lighter raincoats and jackets of spring.
Grooming and Accessories
With spring, you may have a few less options in terms of layering, but more options in terms of color! Pick up a colorful webbed belt or go for a bright brown leather belt instead of a darker one. Now’s the time to experiment and have fun with colorful mix-and-match watch straps. You’ll also want to protect your eyes with a pair of shades, but make sure they compliment your face.
To help with sweaty spring and summer binders, you can get talcum and grooming powders that you can apply to your skin to minimize sweat, friction, and stink. (More on binding in the summer here!) You can also grab a total body anti-perspirant if you find sweating a big issue. If you aren’t wearing socks, definitely get some odor-neutralizing and sweat absorbing products. I use this foot-intended spray powder on my hockey bag, and if it can tackle that stench I’m sure I can trust it for my feet. This classic-scented powder from The Grooming Lounge is widely recommended, as well as these talc-free powders by Lush.
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