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How to dress more Masc as AFAB at work?


Kiara

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Hello! Currently I am in line for potential promotion to supervisor for my department which means I will have start dressing more professionally as a customer facing supervisor. My work dress code is pretty vague and most people get away with dressing very casually. Aside from banning the obvious stuff like torn, revealing, and inappropriate clothing policy says employees "should dress in a manner appropriate to their position and the frequency and purpose of contact they have with the public to project a professional image in conducting Library business." All of my previous supervisors were cisgendered women and wore very feminine clothing (plain womens cut shirts and pants or shirts and dresses). Right now I can get away with wearing slightly oversized men's graphic t-shirts, but that's not a practice I can continue as a supervisor. I was planning on just trying to pick up some plain shirts or polos, but they would likely have to be feminine cuts. I'm short with a large chest and I'm concerned that anything from the men's section wouldn't look right on me. I really don't want to wear button down shirts and ties especially since no one else dresses that formal in my location. I'm not as worried about pants since we're allowed to wear jeans even as a supervisor as long as they are neutral (no crazy colors or styles).

Any ideas or suggestions?

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Hi @Kiara. The main issues as I see them for androgynous or masculine tops for afab ppl are (1) width of shoulders and (2) afab chest size. If you get a men's shirt large enough to accommodate a large chest, then the shoulders are too wide such that the sleeve seams lie almost to the bicep. For a professional look, it's not ideal. You can find women's button up tops that are not so femininely tailored. That is, there are women's tops that are straight cut without any darts sewn in that would accentuate the chest. I've found some androgynous tops in the women's section at H&M. They fit right across the shoulders, and do not highlight my chest. Here's another idea. Some stores carry men's short sleeve button ups with smaller sleeves - almost like a men's version of a cap sleeve. If you try shirts of that style, you may be able to find some that fit your chest without the sleeves being so big. I know you said you didn't want to wear button ups & tie - I envisioned some print button ups with jeans. I think that would look nice and professional too. Good luck!! 

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2 hours ago, Vidanjali said:

Hi @Kiara. The main issues as I see them for androgynous or masculine tops for afab ppl are (1) width of shoulders and (2) afab chest size. If you get a men's shirt large enough to accommodate a large chest, then the shoulders are too wide such that the sleeve seams lie almost to the bicep. For a professional look, it's not ideal. You can find women's button up tops that are not so femininely tailored. That is, there are women's tops that are straight cut without any darts sewn in that would accentuate the chest. I've found some androgynous tops in the women's section at H&M. They fit right across the shoulders, and do not highlight my chest. Here's another idea. Some stores carry men's short sleeve button ups with smaller sleeves - almost like a men's version of a cap sleeve. If you try shirts of that style, you may be able to find some that fit your chest without the sleeves being so big. I know you said you didn't want to wear button ups & tie - I envisioned some print button ups with jeans. I think that would look nice and professional too. Good luck!! 

 

Thank you! I've been dreading going shopping. I haven't been in a clothing store since before the pandemic and I've really become more comfortable expressing myself as more gender neutral/masculine. I hadn't even thought about the clothing issue until I realized the go-to for a wardrobe change would be women's cut shirts and polos and then realizing how uncomfortable I was with that idea now. I used to live in those shirts in a previous job, but that was a different environment and time in my life.

There isn't an H&M store close to me, but hopefully I can find similar tops in the stores near me. I'll try to look out for the men's shirt style you mentioned too. I don't want to go too formal because no one else in my branch dresses that way. We're a pretty casual group. The two guys on staff wear graphic or solid t-shirts and jeans or cargo pants. Most of the women just wear casual feminine clothing and pants. The only exception is our current branch manager who I've never seen in anything but skirts and nice shirts or sweaters.

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My pleasure, @Kiara. Kohls or Burlington may be good for those types of shirts too. Kohls usually has a vast men's section so there may be some variety from which to choose. I hope you find some cool things that you feel good and comfortable wearing.

 

I relate so much to what you said because during the pandemic I also have been freer with exploring my gender expression which is leaning more neutral with some masculine features. I'm not scheduled to return to work in person til August and I wonder what anyone might say about the change in my appearance. We shall see! I got some fresh men's Timberland shoes and boots that I plan to wear to work. I'm actually excited about that. 

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Hey @Kiara. Was shopping at the outlet mall w my husband and noticed Express Men has a nice selection of what might work for an afab body too. Cheers. 

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