Wildfang button up shirt

Menswear, As Inspired by a 5-Year-Old

Wildfang button up shirt

OK so here is how this is going to go down. I’m going to come in with the light-hearted stuff, the fawwwshun, the brand talk–then we’re going to get a little real, a littler vulnerable. This paragraph serves to ineloquently warn you right now but mostly hype myself up to talk about something super personal and scary. The less flowery my language, the more I can just power through and get it out there so here goes…

Menswear used to be a necessity for me, simply due to lack of options as talked about in my t-shirt post. Since the industry has evolved, I haven’t had much of a desire to go back. There are still some internalized issues I have to deal with around fit and flatter–the idea that looking bigger and boxier is “bad.” Seeing some fat femmes and butches fucking kill it with masculine fashion has really inspired me. And the first brand I thought of trying was Wildfang.

Wildfang button up shirt

Their cuts and prints are very compelling and I love their racially-inclusive branding. But that inclusiveness does not deeply extend into size, something of which I was hopeful since at least one of their models was plus size. So I bought this shirt in the largest size possible. I was forced to add seven inches with some crude-ass side panels. This WAS kinda nicely nostalgic since it reminded me of days when I would say to brands FUCK YOU IM WEARING THIS by making shit happen with a needle and thread but it also reminded me how much more effort I as a person of size have to put into clothing and how it’s exponentially harder for people bigger than me and how that never stops sucking. Wildfang has the potential to be an amazing brand and I hope they are actively working to extend their sizes well, welllll beyond a small-ass 16.

A brand you can and should shop for all your butch needs in the meantime is Tunnel Vision.

Tunnel Vision spider t-shirt

I bought this tee in a 2x and it was wayyyyy too big for me, which I was actually pretty stoked about! I’m a smaller fat and should be near the bottom of the range, so fuck yes. They offer new and vintage styles, both in a wide range of sizes. This shirt was also ethically made in LA.

OK. So. Another source of inspiration for me dabbling with menswear is my son. Vince, at 5, is an avid sparkly-lover. He rocks pink glitter sneakers, a beaded bracelet, and a pearl necklace on the reg. He went as Rainbow Dash for Halloween and he loves to run around the house in his princess dresses. However, he never fights wearing a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, loves his super short undercut, and has never ever expressed any frustration or unhappiness with his body.

Up until recently, I was almost expecting him to phase out femme things since I know it’s common for children of his age to try anything when given the chance. And giving him that chance was important to us. But the reality that this is likely a lasting thing has sunk in. And it happened at a Gymboree store.

While on vacay in Pismo last week, I asked Vince if he wanted to have dinner at the pinkest restaurant in the world. And duh, of course he did. So for our special date at the Madonna Inn Steakhouse, I said I would take him shopping for a fancy pink outfit to match. I was thinking a little suit or blazer with some jewelry and as I was putting a few options together, he beelined for this adorable fuschia shift.

I caught myself trying to talk him into the pink shirt and charcoal striped pants I picked out and I saw this…sadness well up in his eyes. It is different from the sadness that comes after I say “pick up your crayons” or “tablet time is over.” One thing I never have a problem with is telling my son “no.” I don’t have a problem with him experiencing sadness or anger or boredom because these are real human emotions we have to navigate. But there has to be a reason behind them. There has to be a lesson learned. “Boys can’t wear dresses” is a lesson I will never teach.

I don’t think I have ever felt equal levels of utter joy and absolute terror as I did that night. Here is my perfect baby, beaming, being his best and happiest self…

And I’m on the highest alert. I am silently pre-hating every single person in this goddamn restaurant until they flash Vince a smile or at the very least make it clear that they will be fucking chill. If my aura had a voice that night it would be EVERYBODY JUST FUCKING BE COOL. And I’m doing this all while putting on my best no-fucks face for my boy. I ask my mom, my amazing fucking rockstar mom who did not bat a lash at her grandson rocking a dress at dinner, if I look scared or nervous and she assures me I don’t. And I can’t help but think of all the times I posted my nearly-nudes on Instagram, or all the times she watched me strut my fat ass on the runway, and how she never looked scared for me.

The thought of someone being unkind or harming your child just for being themselves is enough to knock you to your knees. We as a society still have lightyears to go when it comes to gender non-conform, especially for boys who have toxic masculinity peddled to them on a daily basis. I know my son will have struggles ahead, but it will pale in comparison to the pain he would endure if I encouraged him to hide who he is in the interest of safety. I got a glimpse of that pain as he held this pink dress in his hands, the suit in mine. I never want to see it again.