Do You Shop Outside The Lines?

I bought a very sweet, short raincoat last week – canvas with a zipper and snaps, hood and lots of pockets. It was at a thrift shop, and marked at a very attractive $3. After I tried it on, I noticed the size — 14? I’m usually a 4-6-8. Sometimes in vintage clothing I’ll wear a 10 or 12, as sizing has changed a lot. But this item was a bit on the fitted side. I checked the tag and it was a boy’s size!

Is it illegal or unseemly for a 56 year old woman to wear a boy’s clothing item? I haven’t shopped anywhere but the women’s department for 30 years. The Juniors stuff is adorable, but way too short/cute/tight for me. It hadn’t occurred to me that some basics might be hanging around for the taking in the boy’s or men’s departments. So I did a little scouting, and found some possibilities:

  • Chunky sweaters already have a slightly boyish feel, so you can check out the boy’s selection for something a little offbeat.
  • Pea coats are timeless, and you can sometimes find a bargain in the boy’s or girl’s department, or at the thrift store. 
  • Rain gear, like the jacket I found, are good buys in the boy’s or even men’s departments. No frills, good quality and they get the job done
  • Wool blazers can be found, if you’re a fairly small-busted woman. The quality is often very good, but watch out for brass buttons.
It’s 100% wool, $40, and kinda cute. From GAP.
  • Belts from the boy’s and men’s department can be great bargains, especially from the thrifts. There are some fantastic quality leathers out there for the guys, and who doesn’t need a nice solid brown or black belt?
  • Denim shirts –  the boy’s and men’s versions have a cool, tough look  that can be sweetened up with a floral skirt, or belted over a pretty blouse.
Polo Ralph Lauren. This one’s $72, but they can be found for less.
  • Scarves — the guys have some fab winter scarves in solids, checks and plaids.
A nice flannel-y scarf from Old Navy, $8
  • Brogues — I am newly in love with these manly shoes, and guess what? — you can find them in the consignment and thrift stores at good prices, if your feet are big enough (how often do you hear that??)

A few tips for crossing over to the distaff side for clothing: the fit won’t be tailored, it’ll be more slouchy or boxy, and definitely casual rather than dressy. And you’ll probably want to balance your guy-wear with some feminine pieces. The boy’s blazer with a flowy skirt would be fun, or the brogues with patterned tights.

Have you ever crossed the aisle and shopped with the boys? Share your thoughts in the comments, please!

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patti

29 Comments

  1. My winter parka is a boys' size! I love it and it was so much cheaper than the women's sizing.

    I think my new boots are actually men's boots.

  2. When I was in college, I wore men's Hanes undershirts with Danskin leggings nearly every day! But no men's stuff since then.

  3. Yes I have crossed that line – I have purchase men's scarves and socks and also children`s pullovers. If i Like them and they fit – why must I just adhere to a label ?

  4. are you really 56? My God! you look like 45ish-
    Yes i check the boy's aisle always and find sometimes interesting items – Izzy my daughter finds her best items in the boys – and i check Mr. D's closet often

    Merry Christmas to you and family – I will try to post an outfit this week, a bit hard these days, i am always napping, narcotics will do that toyou

    Ariane

  5. Great pointers, Patti. Sometimes I forget to color outside the lines and look over there for wearables. I seriously will start looking for some chambray on the boy's side of the aisle.

  6. Patti, I find nothing is wrong with crossing over. While I cannot borrow from my DH ( he is 6'5" X-Tall, X-Large), I gladly borrow from my kids- scarves, belts, hats- all is fair game.:)

  7. I was surprised to find that Faded Glory men's jeans fit me!  They are longer waisted (like me) and the gap at the band wasn't bad…it was a wonderful change from the "bikini" jeans I was finding in the women's department.  Try them out!

  8. Great post!  Whatever fits and I love, who cares what department it sits in.  I have had a habit of wearing Nelson's hats and some of his shirts.  

  9. In my early 20's, back when the grunge look was in in the mid 90's, I would raid my boyfriend's closet for denim shirts and big jackets. It was not a good look on me. I would consider a boys or mens garment it could be tailored to fit my curves. At 6'2" I have to be careful I don't end up looking like a real man when wearing mens clothes:) 

  10. I have a fabulous thrifted sheepskin jacket whose only drawback is that it buttons on the wrong side. The man who wore it (and didn't wear it much — it's in great shape!) must have been fairly small because it fits me quite decently. I don't wear it often and wouldn't have paid retail for it, but at $15 I smile every frosty winter day it gets hauled out of the closet to cuddle me in its warmth!

  11. That's so funny! Exactly the same thing happened to me when I bought "Champion"-T-shirts … for boys and girls. 🙂

  12. Great blog post.  Many times I've shopped in the children's 'department' of op shops (thrift stores) because they'll be some hidden gems that fit just right, and usually at a bargain price. 

  13. I don't consistently check out men's clothing, but I will occasionally when I thrift.  I own a hooded sweatshirt that is a boy's size and I purchase jeans in the men's department…as it is easier to shop them with the waist and inseam size.  Hope to be back to blogging soon.  I have missed you…

  14. Ha, yeah I shop boys & mens' sections all the time. And since I have tiny feet, sometimes I buy children's shoes as well (even though I probably shouldn't). There are quite a few men's sweaters and blazers in my closet.

  15. I've done it too.  Last year when flannel/plaid was the thing for fall I found some medium tall shirts.  Fit perfect and long enough to belt.  Also a great place to find vests

  16. I have bought new boys shoes–loafers. I did it because they are usually cut wider than women's shoes. No one ever knew that they were boys.
    Boys clothing is too small for me. I have been known to buy a mens shirt if I loved the print.

  17. I shop all over the store. How else would I have score my Dior grandpa sweater? Granted I did alter it down a bunch, but it still has that slouchy look. I've found belts, shirts, even a pair of jeans. I walk pretty much the whole thrift store when I shop.

  18. I hit up the boys' section every time I thrift – one of these days I *will* find the perfect jean shirt. 

  19. The Book, Parisiene Chic, encourages shopping in men's thrift shops.  I stopped by one (men only) after I read the book and I could see where somethings would work. With menswear so in style, it makes since to do this!  Enjoyed the post!

  20. For years, I've heard that the boys' department is a great place to scoop up bargains.  I've never tried it in earnest, simply because I think I'm too tall/large.  Plus, I prefer things that nip in at the waist.  But I've totally read that peacoats are a great thing to look for!  I've glanced while strolling through the stores, but not yet seen anything that made me stop.  Good for you, though!

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