FLARE caught up with Lizzie Garrett Mettler, the voice behind popular blog (and now book) Tomboy Style, to discuss what it means to be a tomboy and how to emulate this appealing style without losing one’s feminine edge.
Also see: 1 Piece, 2 Ways: The Bay Stripes
THE DENIM SHIRT
“I define tomboy style in equal parts style and substance,” writes Mettler. Though a tomboy is often initially identified by her choice of dress, Mettler is adamant that such style is informed by a “sense of confidence, rebelliousness and adventure.” A denim shirt, then, is our first go-to item. No longer reserved for cowboys, its versatility has proven itself an essential tomboy staple. Layer it with jeans, buttoned up to the collar, tucked in or twist tied in the front, and loop a red bandana haphazardly around your neck. Better yet, wear it faded, bleached and oversized à la Isabel Marant.
FLARE pick: Urban Outfitters bleached chambray shirt, $49, urbanoutfitters.com
Also see: Top 13 Denim Trends For Fall 2012
THE COLOURED TROUSER
While grey and black trousers stand the test of time, summer calls for an injection of colour. Regardless of hue, you’ll still be cutting a streamlined masculine silhouette with this central ingredient of formal suiting attire. Try pairing these coral pants with a silky sky blue or yellow button-up for a lively colour-blocked ensemble.
Style Tip: Elongate your legs and balance out the boy-effect by wearing high heels and rolling up the hems for a slim, tapered finish.
FLARE pick: Zara coral linen trousers, $60, zara.com
THE MEN'S WATCH
Tomboy style is about “striking a balance,” Mettler advises. “If I’m going out and wearing a dress, I’ll wear a men’s watch.” While chunky metal men’s watches have been making the rounds on ladies’ wrists these past few seasons, a lean leather strap and unadorned clock face seem far more fresh and, well, timeless! On your next evening out, be sure to wear one with your frock for a contrasting look that is both graceful and nonchalant.
FLARE pick: Uniform Wares 150 Series watch with rose gold, $275, shopneighbour.com
THE SLOUCHY JEAN
Embrace a looser silhouette and perfect your lean. The tomboy never eschews a solid pair of denim jeans. Straddling an ideal middle ground between a boot cut and skinny fit, this pair from Hope is loose but not baggy and tapers subtly throughout the inseam. Channel your inner rebel and wear it with a loose, cropped shirt and perfecto leather jacket.
FLARE pick: Hope Stay jeans, $182, hope.sthlm.com
Also see: Celebrity Style: 10 Stars in Printed Denim
THE CLASSIC BROGUE
Borrowed directly from the boys, brogues are a mainstay in tomboy style. A dissection of menswear will inevitably lead to these fine shoes, and their widespread availability to women attests to their ubiquitous popularity. Whether worn with rolled slacks, flirty shift dresses or denim shorts, a buttery, rich brown leather brogue will carry you from the office to the weekend come spring, summer and fall.
Style Tip: If you’re feeling sartorially inclined, wear your brogues with bright, playfully patterned socks or exchange your lackluster shoelaces for cords of a neon variety.
FLARE pick: Church’s brown leather brogues, $545, gravitypope.com
THE SAILOR STRIPE TOP
Visions of the French seaside, of white sailboats and Brigitte Bardot singing La Madrague under a hot sun recall one breezy item: the Breton stripe shirt. Originally the uniform of French sailors in the late 1850s, the striped topper has since been appropriated and transformed by tastemakers (and tomboys) such as Coco Chanel and Jean Seberg.
Style Tip: Stay true to this effortlessly cool mainstay by choosing a cut with a boat neck; its high, pulled back neckline will lengthen the body rather than make you appear shorter.
FLARE pick: Joe Fresh marine boatneck tee, $24, joefresh.com
THE ROUND SPECS
What’s the term? Nerdy Chic? Let’s strike that and accord these Warby Parker frames their proper due. With or without a prescription, glasses are still an accessory. And tomboy style—while largely based on character and personality, as Mettler has written—is still an aesthetic. Our appreciation of the finest does not end with our shoes; in fact, these slightly rounded tortoise shell frames complete the sort of Take Ivy schoolboy prep that tomboys often draw inspiration from. Get your HB pencil out, it’s time to take notes!
FLARE pick: Warby Parker glasses, $95, warbyparker.com
Also see: Eyewear Trends: 27 Glasses
THE WIDE BRIMMED HAT
Perhaps the one item in a tomboy’s wardrobe that errs on the side of peacock as opposed to subtle and toned down, it takes confidence to don a hat such as this. Luckily, it’s just the sort of trait that a tomboy should embody.
FLARE pick: Stetson ‘Catera’ felt hat, $175, bencrafthats.com
THE BOXY BLAZER
“I’m a jean and tee girl, and since I work from home, that makes up most of my wardrobe,” states Mettler. She’s honed in on a working uniform, one that allows for function as well as tomboy fashion. “I think it's first off very comfortable and allows women to be mobile. Beyond that, it's practical, accessible and down-to-earth.” To add form, simply bring an over-sized blazer into the equation. Be sure to choose one in a robust colour to offset your simple tee and jeans uniform.
FLARE pick: T. Babaton Fleming blazer, $225, aritzia.com
Also see: Office Style: 15 Work Essentials for Summer
THE BOY SHORTS
Shorts with a looser fit might be new territory for you, but they’re also a refreshing change from the all too pervasive short shorts. This season saw a surfeit of options that were tailored yet relaxed, from Balenciaga to Carven to Dries Van Noten, the latter of which married more formal bottoms with playfully tacky graphic shirts. Throw on your vintage band tee, tie up your scuffed converse sneakers, and cuff the hem of your shorts for a rumpled, ‘run free, run wild’ look.
Style Tip: If you’re petite, raise the shorts to your hips and cinch them with a belt to create definition around your waist and extend the length of your legs.
FLARE pick: Club Monaco navy and white pleated shorts, $90, clubmonaco.ca
Also see: Top 8 Shorts for Summer
THE OVER-SIZED SWEATER
An over-sized sweater paired with denim shorts is the perfect transitional tomboy outfit. But if it feels too boyish, swap the shorts for skinny printed pants and stilettos. While you likely have a surplus of chunky knits in your closet to choose from, this summer opt for a lightweight, sporty sweatshirt like this fantastically cheerful Sandro jumper.
FLARE pick: Sandro bright orange knitted sweatshirt, $285, net-a-porter.com
THE BUCKET BACKPACK
Alexander Wang’s it-girls know there is a time a place for little clutches and fussy purses. In true tomboy fashion, this summer they’re going hands-free with leather bucket backpacks. Not too big, but also structured enough to hold everything and anything you may need for a late night city adventure, this Mishka backpack is an ideal everyday carryall.
FLARE pick: Mishka Ranchera Leather Drawstring Backpack, $385, openingceremony.us
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