I find shopping the women’s section of many stores quite difficult. As I don’t typically like wearing figure hugging, overly feminine or revealing clothing, they most often fall short and do not fit in with my style. So, for the past year I have taken to shopping the men’s section. What I have found is that the quality of some mens clothing highly surpasses that of women’s, using better fabrics and construction for a less inflated price.
The separation of genders on shopping websites can be limiting and may psychologically create a divide between the two, but I highly recommend exploring without regard for labels and what you may find can truly surprise you.
A huge benefit of shopping the mens section that I want to address right off the bat is how well it works for sweaty ladies such as myself. I exclusively use natural deodorants, so my body is free to do its thing which is all great, except when it comes to clothing. The extra length in the bust area and the larger sleeve circumference reduces the contact between armpit and shirt (ew but true). This has truly helped reduce any sweat patch issues and has boosted my confidence, allowing me to wear items and colours that I would have previously avoided at all costs.
Basics are the category I have come to always shop from mens sections. The construction offers a less fitted, more oversized form, putting less emphasis on the bust and boasting longer, more flattering sleeve lengths. T-shirts are more flattering, not clinging to every area you do not want emphasised, containing no elastane and ridding my life of the horrid capped sleeve. Fabrics are also typically much nicer with quality cotton offering extra thickness contributing to the better structure of pieces. Extra length makes them very comfortable and perfect for tucking without them constantly slipping out as well. As a result, I find that these items last much longer, with reduced pilling which is so common with synthetic fabrics, making my wardrobe more sustainable and less disposable.
Loosely fitted shirts that do not overwhelm with patterns and detail are quite hard to come by in women’s sections. It seems women’s shirts only come in a couple of different structures which do not tend to flatter me. Men’s however is the perfect section to shop in, offering a vast array of choices in more casual, loose fits. Shoulders are wider and sleeves looser which offer some contrast to the overly feminine, imbuing a more androgynous, edgy and relaxed feel into any outfit.
The Dress Shirts
When It comes to dress shirts, men’s is the way to go. Standard fit or oversized, mens shirts boast much nicer quality cotton, making outfits look more structured and high quality. Boxy short sleeved mens shirts create a more unisex look, while a standard fit offers extra length and space in the arms, making a rolled sleeve look nicer, with a dropped shoulder due to extra width relaxing the look. My go-to is a soft thick cotton white or light blue mens shirt, sleeves rolled up and top buttons undone tucked into a pair of straight legged jeans. Plus if what you’re after is the “i’m wearing my boyfriends shirt” look, its the only way to go.
I find mens knitwear to be sooooooooo much nicer than women’s. The designs that you will never be able to find in the women’s sections are always readily available in mens. A classic crewneck or high neck knit without any frills that will suit any outfit is the way to go, and purchasing a larger size in mens will give you a looser oversized fit without any clinging while maintaining a very classic and structured look. Steering clear of the overhyped balooned jumpers marketed to women and adopting a sleeker, simpler look will elevate your closet and introduce a more high end aesthetic, especially when paired with a nice blazer and loafer combination.
Turtlenecks and high neck tops are my absolute favourites. The issue I have, as a pretty sweaty person (TMI) is that I cannot wear any women’s turtlenecks besides black as they will end up having glaring sweat patches. This is where I find mens to be so much better. While I do enjoy the perfectly fitted black turtleneck, when it comes to lighter colours I find that the extra space around the bust area and the wider sleeves keep the underarm of the top away from my actual underarm, minimising any sweat patchy-ness, therefore allowing me to explore with more colours without having to be so self conscious.
Overall I find that you have to spend a lot more money to find items of comparable quality in women’s sections and shopping differently, without limitations can result in broadening your wardrobe into different structures and aesthetics while still maintaining your own style.