I'll Have What He's Having
There comes a time in many men's lives when they realise their clothes look better on a woman. That's what I'd like to believe, at least, when I slowly migrate my boyfriend's wardrobe into my closet. Dress shirts, linen shirts, any polo in sight, shawl collar sweaters––these things that were once his become ours and then, after a respectful amount of time: mine. If something's been in my closet for six months, isn't it official? Of course, it doesn't end there; the number of cufflinks, printed scarves, and dozens of pocket squares that are hidden in my suit pockets and carry-ons are an ongoing surprise to him and even to me.
This all started with a humble collection of 70s Lacoste polos and cardigans my dad gave me when he noticed I took more interest in his old clothes than my brother did. Pretty soon, one by one, his sun-faded short-shorts went missing, and he didn't need to look far. Each pair had the salty patina of a boat on Lake Iseo by way of New Jersey and a loose, floppy ease.
How could I resist? The pique polos had a slightly relaxed, elegant fit and sleeves that skimmed my elbow instead of those dreadful women's cap sleeves. Next, I took matters into my own hands and started going to the Brooks Brothers boys' department to stock up on the largest size of polo shirts, straight-leg chinos, and classic navy sport coats that fit me much more naturally. Totally classic and beautifully made, these pieces had just enough room and a little extra length without looking oversized. The early hits continue their wardrobe tour. I still rely on men's polo shirts beneath sport coats, chore coats, linen suits, or paired with white denim and worn two sizes higher than seems natural. They're balanced by tailored silhouettes and loafers, fruilane slippers, or espadrilles for sandier places.
The men's sizing guide might not be what you think. I don't look for the smallest size. I size up—if I'm a small in women's, I'll opt for medium in men's. This doesn't always feel intuitive, and you might be tempted to get the smallest men's size. It still is not always natural for me, but I'm grateful I sized up every time. The extra room will fall into place easily and provide a sense of nonchalance.
This can all be intimidating if you're looking for something flattering that fits narrowly. Trust me, you can find just the right thing, and it might just take a dash of confidence. In Drake's linen shirt, for instance, I size up to a medium and embrace saturated colors like yellow, blue, and orange. These end up being as versatile to wear as crisp white—easy to style with denim, a suit, linen trousers, or over a bathing suit at the beach. These shirt collars are bigger, which is flattering on every woman, and the body is slim but not too slim.
The same goes for the knit polo and summer sweaters, which might sound boxy or even boring, but they have an early 90s simplicity that I look for but rarely find. The shawl collar sweater, more specifically, is the most worthy sweater I've worn—period. I size normally here (small=small) and wind up wearing it on so many occasions—it's warm in the winter, chic for summer nights, and made for natural settings.
And when I see another woman wearing it, usually in ivory, black or navy, I applaud how great they look. Knit polo shirts are incredibly versatile—Italian seaside and English countryside, Manhattan sidewalks, tennis courts, hiking trails, running paths, boardrooms, family dinners, or local cafes. And in virtually any color. They. Are. Great.
Borrowed things are always more fun, and they feel novel but personal. They're also a quick way to experiment with styles that might become favorites and to find the two-sizes-up ease that's right for you. Long, light Drake's scarves in sophisticated prints are universal, easy to wear and gift to someone else, and make an understated look more interesting.
The secret women's wardrobe weapon is a larger men's pocket square or cravat. A pocket square? It's not what you think! These bandana-sized treasures don't require a suit or even a pocket. I wear these as a scarf around my neck or just tie them in my hair. It doesn't have to be perfect. It's an expression of pattern, color, and just delight. Silk editions can be worn in any summer heat or dressed-up setting, don't worry about sweat or sun.
This versatile accessory adds flair without fuss and still feels feminine. They look so natural it's easy to forget who they belonged to in the first place. At this point, my household has accepted the fact that anything not hidden is fair game. I feel more feminine and myself wearing classic clothes and accessories made with quality fabrics. Whoever these might be designed for, they work well for me. The most important thing is finding the silhouettes and sizes that work best.
Menswear is a world of style that's easier and more versatile than you might imagine. And sometimes, it's found just next to the most old-world tailoring houses, in a more relaxed and colorful setting, right on Savile Row.