musings on fashion and identity — practical edition

as continued from

=== gallery / inspiration === (“Uzzlang Board” … what is an uzzlang?) (Pinterest Androgynous Fashion) (female sherlock)

rolling up of the sleeves, open collar with tshirt underneath, untucked shirt, thumb in pocket:$585×585$ (1930s Hollywood Classic style masculine female dress)


Eddie Izzard on fashion

Break Free “A short film about gender roles, Trans, and what it is like to have an identity that deviates from the status quo.”

Behind the scenes of ‘Break Free’ (you can see the makeup at 3:35 )

=== my work so far ===

=== clothing ===

men’s sizing is different (and much more sensible really).

i tried at first going to thrift stores. i realized quickly that this wasn’t going to work. goodwill’s isn’t sorted by size, and most thrift men’s clothes are not going to be in sizes i can wear.

I took my tape measure and measured myself.

  • inseam goes from crotch to ankle (not floor!)
    • 27” inseam / 34” waist, for pants
    • 14” neck / 30” sleeve (from center back of neck, to wrist, with arm hanging down) for collared shirt

then i went to a “real” store (H&M) and found roughly the right sizes, and tried on several size variations of the same thing.

for jeans:

  • slim fit size 28 — nope
  • relaxed skinny fit size 33 — nope — length is okay, the waist is even like a balloon around me
  • regular waist, size 29 — actually works. an inch too long, but fits me better than 95% of my actual jeans. Then again, I’ve *never* shopped for jeans on my own / by trying multiple sizes on to see what fit well, so possibly there’s women’s sizes that fit me even better… but really who wants to deal with “size 4 6  peitite” sizing crap
  • sock

for shirts:

  • size XS — seems to work reasonably well — two inches too long on the sleeves, and fitted enough that it reveals i have more hips than chest
  • you want to elongate your neck, so v cuts are better than tight collars
  • reference


  • 77 cm inseam –  27” inseam (31” to floor)
  • 34” waist
    • hips 35”, butt 37”
  • 29” back of neck to wrist (23” from side of neck to wrist)
  • 14” around my neck
  • 9” from center base of neck to center shoulder
  • chest 29”
    • 33”  across breasts, 32” on the lower slope
  • 32” (no less than 31”) waistline (under belly button, above hips)

so, 27/34 pants, 14/30 shirt

turns out men’s (shirt?) sizes can go to the half inch, so i might want to measure again someday.

update 25 July 2018: “Jeans sizes are often given in inches, e.g. 30/32. The first number is the waist measurement and the second is the inner leg length.” — so, 29/30 (30 is shortest)

= >< =

I ended up getting:

  1. collared grey shirt (halftone color) $25
  2. collared blue shirt (solid color) $20
  3. black cargo pants (pockets are bulky and make me look more short) $35
  4. blue jeans $25

For my advisor meeting, I wore #1 and #4 together, they seemed like the best combination.

(i don’t feel like posting pictures, sorry)

I think next time, I’ll wear an undershirt (with a binder) and have the collared shirt draping (to give more of a straight line from shoulders to butt ). “button down casual” style

Oh, and I’d switch to a shorter (in the back) wig.

= > $$$ < =

The two sets of H&M clothes came out to be $100 !!!!! ;__; The cost I pay for a really impulsive decision.

(although, hopefully now that I know my sizes I can aliexpress the rest).

With 5 tshirts, 3 button-downs, and 2 pants, I’ll have 30 outfits.

[Update 30 Aug 2017: the tshirts (undershirts) can be pretty inexpensive, since

Some more ideas of costs:

=== hair ===

  • i’m keeping my actual hair long. i like the feeling of having my hair braided too much, and it invites less questions in my non-Harvard life
  • wig it is!
    • i needed this same day. boston costume wasn’t helpful, and i was going to go check out dorothy’s boutique. fortunately a friend (julia hopkins!) lent me a wig

I did two ponytails and wrapped them around my head with bobby pins and clips. i wonder if the back of my head had a weird lump. the wig seemed to hold up fine, and even stayed on through biking, although it was hard to tell without bangs in my eyes whether it had slipped up, which was nerve-wracking.

wig (for izaya cosplay, lent to me by julia hopkins)


i haven’t really thought about what to do in terms of sports and exercise and martial arts. erm? i’ll figure it out later. (and showers!)

[Update 30 Aug 2017: The $10 wig I got from Amazon Prime works surprisingly well, few people seem to realize on their own that I’m wearing a wig. I keep getting compliments on my haircut.

An important thing I learned though, is that wigs are adjustable in circumference! The weird dangly things around where your ears are on the wig, are for adjusting to how big your head is. The first time I wore it, my wig kept slipping off and eventually fell off as I was biking!! But I didn’t put anything on except the wig.

The second day, I made the wig a big smaller, and got some of the thicker longer black bobby pins (so expensive, $5 for 20 at walgreens), and life is good aside from the constant anxiety that people will figure out I’m wearing a wig, and that my wig might be falling off. The pins are a little shiny, and so I always worry that they’re sticking out — it’s really hard to see the top and back of your head by yourself.

I had a braid originally, but some “athletic” hair bands with a ponytain held up by the pins and some heavier-duty hair clips have worked well.

I suspect I’m still not quite androgynous though. Alas, something to work on over the course of the year.]

=== shoes ===

Apparently men’s shoes sizes, are just women’s shoe sizes minus 1.5. So I’d be around a 6.5 mens, and I think the smallest size at H&M was 8.

i ran out of time, and even the smallest size at H&M was way too big. In the end I just went with some black (nominally women’s) flats I got from target a while ago, to serve as my comfortable business casual black shoes.

Black boots though… I want a set. (Although I still have trouble distinguishing between things I like, and things I like wearing on myself).

=== accessories ===

giant watches? i was trying to source a <$10 one, but decided I was going too hard for trying to pass as “white business casual guy” . Instead I could aim for the pretty androgynous asian boy.

=== makeup ===

i’m pleasantly surprised at how, even if it’d day-to-day and not drag king-ing, makeup isn’t obvious even if you’re looking up close. i can tell that my face is a little shinier and smoother, but if it’s blended smoothly, it’s not super obvious I have makeup on even when I have A LOT on. the following is all e.l.f. brand from target

the easiest way i found, is

  • a small “eyeshadow” brush ($1)
    • a bit of dark eyeshadow ($3)
    • a light foundation and a dark foundation (relative to my skin)
      • light foundation on the center of nose, above the cheekbones, on the lips, top side of chin,
      • dark foundation in the hollow between the eyes and nose, on sides of nose, under cheekbones, right on jawline
    • blend the heck out of it all with a makeup sponge (little triangles that are squishy). i tried a soft “foundation” brush, but the contrasts are too heavy for it
    • optionally, “set” with a transparent powder (keeps it from smearing off as much, i guess, and keeps it from being too shiny and obvious you have makeup on)

if i actually wear this on a day-to-day basis, i’ll invest in more quality makeup, since it *is* going on my skin

makeup can also be for actual guys

=== breasts ===

a sports bra works great for me.

in terms of things I’ve tried: sports bandages for binding are cheap and readily available at target for $2. (everyone on the internet will tell you this is bad over the long term, but for a next-day thing it worked fine). the self-stick kind is a no-no, impossible to use. i got the elastic kind, which possibly is better than the athletic kind, but certainly not great. the analogy is, elastic means it’s like a rubber band — the more you stretch it, the harder it compresses. except here, stretching = you trying to breathe. it came with velcro hooks at either end, which worked well (I guess otherwise you get clips?)

tutorials on crossplay (“open chest crossplay“) use tape, or bandages, or cut-up leggings (i tried pantyhose, it was wholly ineffective since it was so lightweight)

binders may be the way. so, ebay / aliexpress in the future


I’m in part doing this, since grad school is a fun time to experiment around, that I might not get if I were in industry or being judged by my superiors later in my career. There is some excitement [2]. It makes me feel like I’m expressing a bit of the way i’ve always felt weirdward of normal society. (I sense some rainbow hair in my future).

Katie Kuffel
Katie Kuffel

[2]  since it’s a choice i’m making without much fear of negative repercussion professionally or socially, just the same social anxieties i faced when i started putting on dresses and in particular experimenting with makeup

of course, i’ve the $$$ to do so; it’s kind of funny, as questionable content’s current story arc is also about this.