June 17, 2012

Borrowed from the boys

As someone who adores being called (and thinks of themselves as) a girly-girl, I've not spent a lot of time throughout my life in outfits that would generally be described as having a tomboy or menswear vibe to them. I've always thought there was something blessedly special about being a girl, and I relish the fact that I can wear clothes that help to highlight my womanly curves (of which I've got plenty to go around) and extremely feminine nature.

Androgynous styles or modern male fashions rarely (save perhaps for ties and bowties - both of which can make excellent headbands) appeal to me, even though I do think they sometimes look stellar on other women (especially those with willowy figures). When we inject mid-twentieth century fashion into the picture however, that's something of a whole 'nother ballgame.

It's not so much that I wear vintage styles with a distinctly masculine vibe to them, but rather, the idea of doing so doesn't put me off in the way that modern menswear inspired looks sometimes do. Assuming a yesteryear lass was sporting the typical hairstyle and make-up of the time (most 40s and 50s looks being so inherently feminine thanks to elements like curls and red lips), you could pretty much have dressed her up in a potato sack and she'd still look more feminine and beautiful than a good many modern day women in off-the-moment-trendy high street and designer fashions alike.

Not of course, that every woman needs to look overtly feminine to be fashionable. Each of us has the right to dress and look a much like our gender (or the other) as we'd like. I merely mean that because dressing in styles, colours and garments that are typically perceived being highly womanly are important to me, I'm more drawn to a period in time when even ladies in tomboy, menswear, or highly casual looks retained a sense of femininity to their appearance.

It can be fun however, to venture outside of one's usual clothing comfort zone, sneak over to the other side of the closet (or department store) and take a style guy cue from the fellows. A point which was certainly not lost on the following group of 1940s and 50s gals.

{A teenage girl relaxes - cigarette in hand - in an oversized men's plaid shirt and pair of cuffed jeans.}

{Love the collection of 1940s stuffed animals that are residing on this high school student's bed as she does her homework.}

{In a scene that's nearly as old as the telephone itself, a teen chats away to a friend while wearing a loose fitting sweater, jeans and loafers.}

{Two gals in cute hairstyles and fun causal wear cut a rug surrounded by their friends who are enjoying cokes and a bite to eat.}

{While I've never been the sort who could do so (concentration = silence in my books), this lovely 40s girl seems to have to trouble listening to the radio while doing her homework.}

{Proving that you can raid the boy's dresser any time of the day or night, this lass sports a pair of men's pajamas in addition to her adorable rag curls.}

{It's short tweed pants - and short hair - for this teen as she voraciously bites into a large sandwich.}

{Saddle shoes, blue jeans, and ribbed white bobby socks - rarely doesn't it get more 1950s causal meets boy's wear inspired than this iconic look.}

{Three 1940s teens relax outside their school in a wardrobe of jeans, baggy sweaters, and an oversized button front shirt for the friend in the centre.}

{Though - based on the footwear in the hanging shoe storage bag - I think she's standing in her own closet, I highly suspect that this young woman snuck over to her brother or father's to borrow that man's shirt - and possibly even those glen plaid trousers!}

{All images above are from the online Life magazine achieve. To learn more about a specific photo, please click on it to be taken to its respective page.}

♥ ♥ ♥

While masculine looks can easily drain some of the overt appearance of femininity from a lady, at times they can also - almost paradoxically - heighten a girl's appearance and make her seem overtly womanly - as though her feminine side is going into overdrive to compensate for the mannish threads she's sporting.

There's no denying the practicality that menswear and ultra casual styles posses. For various sports, outdoor activities (camping, hiking, etc), and DIY chores around the house and yard (such as mowing the lawn or painting the fence) - not to mention the driving part of long road trips - they can be both practical and appealing. They can as well, be rather cute (especially if you seek a girly detail or two into the picture, such as pink and white saddle shoes with cuffed vintage jeans) and very often convey a sense of youthful vitality.

Depending on your own personal style, there may be other times, too, when you want to toe the line between the genders with your fashions, and that's totally cool. Style after all, is what you make of it - not what it makes of you - so if looks like those in the vintage photos today are calling your name, by all means go for it!

There's inspiration a plenty to be found from 1940s and 50s lasses who - rather brazenly at the time - dared to borrow from the boys and let a casual vibe shine through (at least part of) their wardrobe.


  1. I am loving this so much! I really like to dress boy-ish myself from time to time... I could't actually borrow my husbands wears though. Great piece!

    1. I wear my dads shirts with womens cardigans and my hair up, I love it. I will add some more posts of myself wearing mens shirts. I love it.


  2. These are great. I really love the way saddle shoes and jeans look together. I'm always afraid I'll look too manly if I wear overly baggy clothing.
    My mom would always borrow my uncles' clothing because she said it was a lot more comfortable.

  3. Oh I love these images!! Such a classic look, and you're right-- they looks so undeniably girlish and cute. I actually have several pairs of '40s and '50s boys trousers and blouses which I love wearing casually around the house; very authentic, and they're so well-tailored that it's still miles above sweatpants ;)

  4. Gosh, these looks are so me. I've always been sort of the tomboy growing up and even considered entering in the military. I prefer pants over skirts and these styles are for moi!

    Not that I don't like feminine things, as I am wearing my 40s style playsuit now, but I love a good pair of pants!

  5. Great Post... great inspiration for a casual round the house look as well. I guess the concept of 'boyfriend' jeans is not a modern day concept after all. I love the picture of the girl in the over sized pj's. very cute. I love the rolled up jeans and socks too :) I recently saw a picture on tumblr of Jayne Mansfield in a big oversize plaid shirt and rolled up jeans and socks (google at home with Jayne Mansfield 1956 )Its a similar look to your photos above.

    Thanks for the Great Post

  6. It makes me think of the women factory workers seen in pictures from WW2. They are often wearing shapeless boiler-suits, or other overalls, yet they still look very feminine.

  7. Love this post. Very Katharine Hepburn. Even though she dressed in tailored and masculine-type outfits she still radiated femininity with her makeup and hairstyles.

  8. Such a marvelous post, Jessica! I'm mad about boyish style, mainly the antique ones kkk I always keep on borrowing things from my boyfriend's closet kkkk even underwear ;) they're só comfy hahah

  9. nice snapshots, i sometimes steal my husband's shirts to achieve similar ends. i love the photo of the tweed-wearing sandwich biter!

  10. What wonderful photos!!! I love how intimate these shots are:D Thank you so much for leaving another lovely comment on my blog. I hope that you have a positively delightful week! :)

  11. Those photos are all so charming! I've never felt super comfortable in menswear or tomboy styles, vintage or otherwise, but I love the look on others. This made me smile.