Question: Futch style tips?

Adrian asks…

I’m a VERY curvy and short female-bodied genderqueer who looks great in women’s clothes, but for those days when I want to look androgynous or butch, I’m lost. Where do I find androgynous-style clothing for short, curvy people?

Please post your response in the comments below.

» Ask Genderfork «

Posted by on April 27th, 2010 at 08:00 am

Category: questions 26 comments »

26 Responses to “Question: Futch style tips?”

  1. Clare

    I’ve thought a lot about this one from the point of view of a crossdresser who isnt bothered about being ‘read’ or ‘spotted’ or whatever the term is.
    the great thing about inhabiting the borderlands of gender is that we are free to experiment – so how about not getting hung up on specifics but just finding a comfortable combination of clothes that expresses where you are.
    I wore a pair of pinstripe pants, with a proper old style full-length collarless shirt, plus a boyfriend cardy and girly scarf to a do recently – and its a look i really like. almost semi New romantic. So – play a little – mm?!


  2. Jerrie

    I’m also a short curvy female-bodied genderqueer.
    So far I find men’s jeans or ‘boy-friend’ jeans work very well, skinny jeans tend to be out of the question if you are curvy. A cheap casual male shirt with a collar on top of a plain shirt. Or possibly a band shirt but you will want to bind or wear a sports bra if your very curvy. Converse are pretty gender neutral.
    Good luck.


  3. Anonymous

    i highly recommend getting things tailored. You can find really cheap men’s shirts that are too big for you but could fit across the chest and hips, then get them done in a style that is still cut in a masculine fashion but that fit you perfectly. If you buy shirts used and then get them tailored it ends up costing around the same amount as buying a nice new shirt, except this one will be made specifically for your body not some version of “man” or “woman” that mainstream fashion attempts to slot us into.


  4. Amy

    I have this problem too, it’s really hard to get neutral styled jeans for short legs, I tend to have to make do with relatively straight legged ones. I only ever buy tshirts in mens small sizes, they don’t drown me but they’re baggy enough to bind under, without the binding showing, and they also hide the curves of my hips pretty well. Invest in a blazer or suit jacket too, somehow I look andro or butch in mine no matter what I’m wearing it with :) Hope that helps!


  5. cinna

    Binding: Start with binding whether with a binder, ace bandage, back brace worn around your chest ($30 at Walgreens), sports bra, or frog bra. For added flatness without a binder, put the ace bandage on secured by two safety pins and THEN the sports or frog bra. If you do this, try it around the house for a while. I find its really difficult to breathe after about 2 hours. Your mileage may vary. You don’t want to be stuck somewhere, unable to breathe, but with clothing that requires you to be bound. You’ll develop a nasty cough for the next few days. :-( But experiment! You will find a way that is comfortable and masculine enough to go out.

    Clothes: Learn what size men’s shirt you wear, first. Here’s a good video showing you how to find your measurements:

    Tuck your shirt in and wear your pants low, with a belt. A suit jacket, vest, sweater vest and/or tie is a great touch. Suspenders will obviously show off that your chest is curvy. Stay away from suspenders unless you want to be mix and matching curves & no curves.

    Tucking your shirt in is counterintuitive, perhaps. But I find that if I don’t tuck my shirt in it will either ride up and bunch around my waist, or if its a button up it will gap in the front, from my waist on down. So I’ve learned that keeping a shirt loose actually shows off curves. If you do have a t-shirt that is loose enough that it doesn’t show curves, and it goes past your hips, you can pair it with a buttoned shirt worn open.

    If the shirt you want to wear is not very long, pair it with a sweater vest. They’re kind of baggy and stretchy. Dark colored sweater vests hide curves really well. Make sure it goes at least to the widest part of your hips, to hide that your waist is thinner and/or that you can’t tuck in your shirt.

    Speaking of dark sweaters – these are great on their own, or with a collared shirt. It looks pretty snappy if you button the collar, casual if you don’t. Light sweaters (tan, for example) show curves on me and also tend to show off the bump caused by the button, right around my chest. Not pretty.

    Also, if you’re wearing something with a vest or jacket and don’t intend to take them off, go ahead and wear shirts with darts in them, if they button up. This reduces the “baggy” look.

    Darts in the back but *not* in the front will reduce some of the bagginness, too. Darts in front will just reshape your chest into more curves.

    If your shirt fits but the arms are too long or too baggy, ROLL THEM UP! I like this look: snappy dresser, but casual. It seems to say, “I take care of myself and my appearance, but I’m not afraid to have some fun.” But that’s probably age appropriate advice. I’m about 30. If I were wearing dress shirts to school as a 20 year old I would have looked like a young republican, not a young professional. If you do go this route, be sure to iron your clothes or the look just doesn’t come together.

    Accessorize. Accessories draw eyes to the accessory, rather than the curves. They also give clear indications of gender. A pocket watch, a tie clip, a men’s hat, a men’s watch, a men’s scarf when its cold out. Boots, men’s or clearly unisex shoes (keens work great for me). Also, you may still come across as feminine. Look at pictures of metrosexuals and gay men who give a bit of a feminine feel but are still clearly men — what accessories are they wearing?

    Oh, you may wish to avoid plaid shirts with boots. So many lesbians in the 90’s did that, it conjures up images of androgynous 90’s lesbians instead of men.

    Pants: Figure out what size men’s pants you wear. There are two numbers: the first number is your hip measurement, the second number is your inseam (crotch to ankle). Measure your inseam based on a pair of jeans that already fit, rather than on your body. You likely won’t find pants that are short enough. That’s okay, learn to roll them up or hem them. Now that you know your size, try on a lot of men’s jeans, with a belt. Go to a thrift store so you can get a wide range. NOBODY WILL MIND A GIRL LOOKING AT MEN’S JEANS, and if anyone hassles you and you don’t feel assertive about saying you’re playing with gender, tell them you’re buying men’s jeans for a costume. You may find something. You may not. But the process of noting where they don’t fit is important — so, if after you’ve tried on a bunch of men’s jeans you don’t find anything and are totally frustrated with how they don’t fit, go to Tell it you’re looking for men’s pants. Then you give it your measurements (not just hips but waist, thigh, etc. too). Then it asks you what’s wrong with other (men’s) jeans — where do they gap, where are they too tight, etc. Then it shows you which jeans would be the best fit on you — the brand, the style, and the size. Go to a store to try these on if you can. I find that when the website asks me how I’m shaped I still compare myself to women’s bodies instead of men’s bodies and I got strange results for a while. So don’t order a $100 pair of jeans unless you can return them, just in case you aren’t shaped the way you thought you were shaped.

    I highly, highly recommend checking out dapperq for more info/ideas:


  6. Charley

    I hear ya! I have enough trouble finding womens clothes that accommodate my curves and lack of height let alone mens.

    For me I usually go for boxers and low slung boyfriend jeans with a belt, wearing jeans below my hips helps disguise them.

    On top I’ll generally bind, put on a tight fitted vest top followed by a looser one. Finally I’ll put on a mens tee. (Curves get lost in the layers)

    I then finish the outfit off with converse or skate shoes and a chunky metal watch.

    At the end of the day its all about trial and error and what works for you.

    Hope I’ve been of some help.


  7. Toni

    i like the boys section. if you have hips, for pants, go with husky short. that usually works.


  8. ellis

    hudson’s guide is very useful.


  9. Milo

    I have the exact same problem, yo. Thanks for posing the question.


  10. softestbullet

    Just want to say thank you for all the advice! *saves*


  11. Lyn Aven

    I have the opposite problem!


  12. Keanan

    I live in boys’/men’s t shirts, boys’ jeans, and Converse (or Vans). I have found that boys’ jeans work really well for me. I have found that Target jeans and jeans that are meant for really young boys don’t fit at all. Levi’s jeans are perfect though. For some reason they seems to fit. I usually get my regular size or I buy a size up. This creates more space around the waist and makes them baggier (which is good especially if they are skinny skater jeans). They usually aren’t too long (I am very short) or they just bunch up a little at the ankle. If they are a little to big on the waist a belt always works well. The Gap also has a lot of good clothes. Boys’ don’t really fit but their mens’ pants are only a little big for me so I get the hem altered. Good luck on finding clothes. I know it is always an unfortunate ordeal for me.


  13. m

    the “diva” bootcut by old navy for jeans and obey brand t-shirts


  14. Meike

    I second Keanan’s advice. I do however have to resort to the boys’ section sometimes for shirts, but that’s because I’m super-thin and not exactly curvy in that regard. But even a mens’ shirt a size too large could work well. Layers also work — T-shirts and sweatshirts work well together and don’t leave you looking too curvy.


  15. Jessica

    Overalls can work. Have you ever considered a Buddhist robe (you know, orange)- there’s also lots of Asian clothing you can wear. Try a tai-chi uniform. I love the loop-tie shirts.


  16. zenna

    As a Buddhist I just have to say: please don’t wear/appropriate Buddhist or other Asian clothing unless you grew up Buddhist and/or Asian and have some reason to be in resistance to it. Queering your own culture is one thing. Queering another has a myriad of implications. Certainly some of them are exciting, but some of them are highly problematic, including encouraging the idea that for something to be queered, it needs to become Americanized. This really fuels the idea that some cultures and religions have that, “our people aren’t queer.” So, I highly, highly recommend staying within your cultural traditions if you’re queering something. This would NOT be read, by most, as being in alliance with queer Buddhists, or queer Asians. I, for one, see it as cultural appropriation.

    I think, “queer white folks clearly have no respect for where I’m coming from and feel free to take what they want from my culture, without realizing how this clothing has been oppressive and carries histories and legacies of pain for queer people. My life history isn’t something to play with.”

    I don’t know Jessica so I want to be clear that this isn’t a personal attack though perhaps she is also implicated in what I’m saying. That is for her to judge for herself. I understand she is probably coming from another positionality and does not understand why this may be a painful/difficult recommendation for some of us.

    My intent is NOT to implicate her, but to add a caution to the suggestion that we should add clothing from ANY other culture without knowing its’ histories and having a relationship to it.

    Thank you for your consideration.


  17. Jessica

    Zenna, Yes, I was being somewhat playful with the topic. It was not my intention to slander or denigrate anyone’s culture or customs. If I was insensitive it’s because to me clothes are cloth (mostly) and I don’t consider them to be my definition, nor do I think myself their definition.

    I’d not suggest someone wear a clerical “dog collar” unless one were a cleric. I wasn’t suggesting that wearing a Buddhist robe was to impersonate a monk – quite frankly they’re rather complicated to wear and take quite a bit of practice to perfect.

    I’ve always had a few tai-chi uniforms in my wardrobe – they’re simple and I like the way they wear. I don’t look the slightest bit Chinese in them (or out of them), but I just like the simple idea of the loop front closure and the trousers are extremely comfortable, provided you don’t tie your sash too tightly.

    I don’t style myself as a tai-chi master, nor do I think anyone would confuse me with such a person. The only time I wore this “uniform” in Asia was one afternoon in Singapore and no one seemed to mind. If asked, I’d have said that I was wearing it because it was a) comfortable b) cool (Singapore is a hot city) and c) cheap ($27 if memory serves). If you don’t mean offense, very often people won’t take offense. Yes, you should be aware of the cultural significance of your dress, if any, and try to be careful not to be intentionally offensive.

    I remember a beautiful silk outfit in the Museum of Asian Civilization that has swastika’s all over it. Of course the antique outfit was centuries older than Nazism, but I could never wear it anyway. And I do realize that Europeans and North Americans tend to be way more laissez-faire in our dress and customs than many other regions. In the final analysis I’m just not a big fan of idiotic rules, no matter how longstanding.


  18. zenna

    Hi Jessica. Thanks for engaging. While I don’t want to divert attention from style advice (It is really hard just to get dressed in the morning! I’m appreciating the help!), I do want to encourage everybody — not just you — to think about the effects of our wardrobe choices not just on gender, but also through the multiple lenses of colonialism, racism, etc.

    I’d like to say, again, that I don’t know your relationship to Asia or tai chi or Buddhism. You mention that you were in Singapore and were wearing the clothing in question there. That doesn’t sound offensive to me. (When in Rome…) So really, this isn’t a personal attack. I hope you aren’t reading it as one. Please tell me if you are, I will back off.

    But this brings up really interesting questions, especially around the notion that you brought up (and “mostly” subscribe to) that clothing is just cloth. I disagree and I think its important: clothing standing for more than just cloth is why its important to me to dress in a gender congruent and gender subversive way. I internally feel differently gendered, and dislike American culture’s gender options and rules, and wearing different clothing allows me to pass, sometimes, and subvert, sometimes, according to my needs. This wouldn’t be possible if clothing didn’t carry with it cultural messages, cultural histories, and cultural purposes. As we queer fashion (or sometimes dress to pass, not to queer) I think its important to remember that we aren’t just carrying on the gendered meanings/histories/purposes but also the cultural ones. If one isn’t familiar with the cultural traditions and histories of the clothing — either by growing up, living in, partnering in, or otherwise having some other strong relationship to said culture — then there’s cultural appropriation. Even if we do, there may be cultural appropriation. And though there might be some good things that come out of it, there are certainly multiple affects and the subversion probably has unintended consequences. By the way, if someone were offended, I doubt people on the street would stop to say so, as it isn’t polite, and the dress also makes one appear not sympathetic to hearing concerns of cultural appropriation. I don’t know that you were being offensive. But I was very concerned about your original advice.

    Thank you for listening, taking the conversation seriously, and engaging. Even if you disagree, I appreciate it.


  19. Elle

    “please don’t wear/appropriate Buddhist or other Asian clothing unless you grew up Buddhist and/or Asian and have some reason to be in resistance to it. Queering your own culture is one thing. Queering another has a myriad of implications.”

    I have some trouble with this idea. By contrast, is it only appropriate for a person who did grow up Buddhist and/or Asian to queer the clothing and styles of traditional Buddhist and/or Asian cultures? Can a person who grew up Buddhist and/or Asian queer “Western/American” clothing and styles?

    I’m not trying to be contrary or offensive. But I don’t agree with rules that give certain people privileges others aren’t allowed based on culture, race, gender, etc.


  20. zenna

    hmmmm. I see that the way I stated things does imply a “rule.” Of course it is already out there, and intention is not everything… I have affected others negatively by the implication of a rule.

    I will restate to clarify my intent. Also, I apologize if I’ve created harm. My intent is to plea:

    Please consider the multiple affects of queering clothes from outside of your own culture. In our post-colonial world, queering another culture is not a harmless act. It may be fun, it may be subversive, it may also have affects which will be read as racist, colonialist, appropriative, etc. Despite best intentions.

    Thank you.


  21. Jessica

    I have always found the American habit of requiring agreement to be most strange. Hearty disagreement, when honest, can be very beneficial. I don’t have to agree with someone to respect them.

    “In our post-colonial world, queering another culture is not a harmless act.” By all means, confine oneself to thumbing one’s nose at one’s own cultural prejudices and antiquated historical bigotry. I’m afraid that pother cultures will need to take me as a free spirit – I mean non harm, but nor do I bow to cowardly idiocy.


  22. zenna, cowardly idiot.

    I’m removing myself from this discussion as it is clearly taking away from the rather important discussion of futch fashion. I am not being glib, it is important. I hope the asker gets more answers that are helpful.


  23. Jessica

    Been nice talking with you, Zenna. Look forward to crossing swords, and the odd hug, again sometime soon.


  24. j

    marshalls. cheap and awesome finds in the men’s dept. (including the occasional short length pant). for pants, low rise is a must for us shorties. (the rest you can hem if needed- but hem jeans longer than you think they should be or else they’ll look ridiculous). get the right hip (waist) size, even if it’s bigger than you think it should be, and get a ‘straight’ fit. NEVER get a loose or baggie type fit- it will look awful.

    i also love the men’s sale rack at gap. i sometimes find my 36W/28L jeans for like 15 bucks or less. awesome. but remember: straight fit, low rise (ask the people which styles have the low rise type).

    thick belts & ties (both super cheap at marshals!), thick watches (fossil mens can easily be punched with a hole wherever you need it), and i second the frog bra comment (get them through title nine- they have amazing sportsbra selection).

    and i HATE the word ‘futch’!!


  25. AJ

    straight leg jeans seem to work–they’re not too skinny, as in hugging your legs to show the shape, but not to big to make them seem baggy or make your legs seem shorter than they are. someone said converse. they work. very gender-neutral. skate shoes work as well. combat boots. i mean any generic shoe really. button up shirts help to hide curves even if you aren’t binding with a real binder. men’s button ups usually work better than women’s because women’s button up shirts are contoured to fit the female chest better [unless you want that]. belts are nice to tuck the front of the shirt into [not all of it unless you feel like it] for a look. that’s just what i do, because i’m short and curvy as well. hope that helpsss


  26. XylophoneGender

    Not entirely sure if this is what you’re looking for, but I recently came across this newer website:
    which bills itself as “for women and men, gay and straight, butch and femme, to share the experience of becoming dapper.”


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