Nikki’s Inbox: Nerdy Androgyny

I’ve been struggling with finding clothes that suit my gender. I was born female at birth, but I don’t consider myself to be male or female. I struggle to find clothes that aren’t overly gender-specific. Men’s clothing fits my body a little better though. I have very broad shoulders and am wide in general, and I don’t really have a waistline. My measurements are 40-34-41 and I’m 5 feet 9 inches tall. I have a 34D bust, but I don’t feel the need to hide it and I’m not ashamed of what my body looks like. I need help on finding what suits my body and my taste in clothes. I like simple clothing with a “nerdy” kind of style, and I really like neutral colors, but I don’t know how to put an outfit together that looks good. Any advice would help!

Cameron, 15/USA

Hello Cameron, and thanks for trusting me enough to ask me for advice. I want to give you a hug because it’s rare that I come across an email that states “I’m not ashamed of what my body looks like.” In this day and age where stereotyping is still so common, your love for yourself is really inspiring.

Never compromise on FIT
As someone who has broad shoulders herself (despite being a petite), I definitely know how difficult it is to find tops that fit just right. If men’s clothing fits you better, then go for it! Whether you’re buying a shirt or a pair of jeans from the men’s or women’s section, always choose the one that fits you best – one that fits in all the right places, allows you to move freely and easily, and the hemlines are where they should be, more or less. Hemlines are easier to fix than chest sizes so that’s something to keep in mind. I only implore you to never settle for super baggy and oversized clothes. You love your body and your shape so why hide it, right?

Whether you’re shopping from the men’s or the ladies’ section, make FIT your first priority.
Oversized clothes don’t always translate to “cute.”

Invest in basic but quality pieces
For some gender-neutral starters, Cameron, I’d advise you to stock up on button-down shirts. Get them in the colors and patterns you want, and double up on the ones you really, really like (like red, for example). The same goes for whatever bottoms you prefer – jeans, pants, skirts or shorts. As long as they’re a great fit for your body and in the style you like, you’ll get a lot of use out of them. As button-downs are very versatile, you can easily pair them with any bottoms, and still look smartly put together. Never hesitate to get them altered, such as shortening jean and pant lengths, or taking in a little at the waistline or shoulders for shirts. If the end results mean you’ll look fabulous and more confident wearing them, then you get the best deal out of it.

When you’ve found a brand or piece of clothing that ticks all the boxes, get at least two. Well-fitting clothes are always a good investment.

Nerdy chic is cool
Your outer layers can stand to be a bit more relaxed and loose when it comes to fit. A boxy cardigan or drapey sweater looks relaxed yet cool when paired with a classic white shirt plus boyfriend jeans or slim-fit pants For heavier layers, avoid double-breast fronts and always choose a single-breasted coat or a two-button or three-button blazer to make it look flattering. You can half-tuck the shirt in, roll up the cuffs, and wear with high-top platform sneakers, penny loafers or lace-up boots. Crazy socks can add a quirky finish.

Complementing layers and colors keep everything interesting, with denim as a neutral.

For a different take on the “librarian” style, a long-sleeved tie-neck blouse does the trick, but pair it this time with a waist-length, boxy blazer, and tuck it into bootcut pants or jeans. You’re showing off your height and that you also have a waist. Finish with stacked-heel boots or even wedge sneakers. Take this look one step further, by adding a cute patterned tie or bow tie, plus a knit vest and non-prescription glasses.

No waistline? Wear tops that are shaped to define your proportion. You can also create visual “boundaries.”

Pair neutral colors with vivid colors or pastels to look playful.

Add the unexpected
Here’s another piece for you to try, darling: wide-leg pants. If you find most skirts to be a little too girly, then this is the perfect marriage of the maxi skirt and a pair of roomy trousers. Plus, they only look great on taller girls, which is where you come in! You can team wide-leg pants with a crop top, tuck in your favorite button-down, or pair with a turtleneck sweater (form-fitting or with a relaxed fit). Wide-leg pants look great with slip-ons, sneakers, boots or heels. They totally rock that lazy-day vibe but look so streamlined thanks to the flowing silhouette.

You can also look to accessories to spice up your ensemble, such as hats, glasses, ties and socks. Your jewelry can also be equally nerdy yet quirky: brooches, matching knuckle rings, or even non-matching earrings.

Serious 80s preppy throwback: Brogue boots, monkstraps, classic penny loafers, and kiltie loafers.

Put cute and surprising finishing touches to your outfit!

Now’s the time to take that body confidence to the next level, Cameron. I wish you all the luck!


P.S. If you’re sending a question, please don’t forget to include any helpful information about your body, your tastes or personality. You can include a photo (link only please) of yourself or your clothes (which I will never publish without your written approval). Thank you!

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