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!

(Visited 112 times, 1 visits today)



  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


  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!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.