Tomboy fashion with a feminine twist

Spring and summer are perfect seasons for borrowing from the guys.

05/21/2012 12:00 AM

05/20/2012 1:05 PM

You know the guy: Open the door of his closet and you’ll find jeans, jeans jacket, plaid golf shorts, striped T-shirt, chambray shirt, deck shoes, polo shirt, cargo shorts, plaid shirts and high-tops.

Wait! That’s her closet.

You might assume she’s a tomboy, but that’s not necessarily true. She is a fan of tomboy fashion.

Designers such as Ralph Lauren and Oscar de la Renta have made numerous tuxedo looks for women, but there are many more items borrowed from the guys than the tailored suits of the menswear trend that show up from time to time.

The category of men’s casual with a feminine twist isn’t new. Coco Chanel knew what she was doing when she put trousers on women. She borrowed looks from French sailors but made sure stylish women didn’t look like they were about to set sail.

And who can forget the stylish Katharine Hepburn, a self-proclaimed tomboy? She loved her oxford shoes, pleated trousers and a loose shirt with the sleeves rolled up. Later in life, she wore a turtleneck under her shirts. Although the look isn’t new, Tommy Hilfiger, the Gap, Banana Republic, J. Crew and others have made the tomboy look easy, comfortable and all-American.

It crosses boundaries of age and price points. Even females who are “girly girls” see no reason garments such as soft chino pants should be reserved for only the guys. Pull on a comfy pair of cropped cargo pants, add a white shirt, some great sandals or Top-Siders, and you have instant casual chic.

“The tomboy look doesn’t mean you have to steal clothes from your boyfriend or husband. You can take the feminine approach to the look,” said Betty Johnston, buyer for the women’s department at Johnston’s.

She gives the example of a boyfriend jacket that is far from the oversized styles with big shoulders and wide cuts. These jackets are somewhat fitted, but it’s still evident what inspired designers.

Guys look great in white shirts, but so do women. A good-quality white shirt is just as important a wardrobe staple in a woman’s closet as it is in a man’s. Get at least one white shirt sans ruffles and frills.

If you wear a small size (0 to 4), stroll through the boys department, and if you see something you like, take a longer look. Try it on. Some of those T-shirts for middle school boys are perfect for a female’s casual summer outfit and very inexpensive compared to what you pay for in the women’s department.

And remember, mixing it up is part of the fun. Wear a feminine top with bold, plaid shorts. Try a cute skirt with a no-nonsense chambray shirt. Choose colored denim jeans instead of indigo denim, or a jeans jacket in a vivid color.

Spring and summer are the perfect seasons to turn on your tomboy attitude and let your fashion sense kick back.

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