Friday, April 13, 2018

Help Find Clothes That Fit (MTF and FTM)

As a trans person it can become very frustrating when trying to find clothing that both fit and look flattering on your body. I want to point out right at the beginning of this article that you should be comfortable in what you choose to wear. There is no need to feel that you must look or dress a certain way. That being said how you look goes a long way towards how others see you (and treat you). While I have tried to make this post useful for both trans men and women it was originally written in a way that is geared towards trans women. I also want to point out that I do have articles for trans women on tucking, and for trans men I have an article about breast binding. Both are things that are somewhat classified as necessary evils to "pass" (I still hate that word).

As for the how tos, for me the best thing to do was to do a little bit or research. I found the key is that once you understand your body shape it is pretty easy to find the resources to learn how to look and feel your best! There are a lot of clothes that fit and look good on all kinds of body types and there are all kinds of tips you can use... You just have to know where to start, and that is finding your shape.

The basic body shapes are:

Want some suggestions (MTF)?

I have put together (and will continue to add) some suggested outfit posts... Although this may just be a way for me to share some style related posts :)

Get the suggestions
Hour Glass
People with hour glass figures have a defined waist with their hips and bust being roughly the same size with their waist being well defined. This is a pretty natural feminine shape and is difficult to replicate.

People with a pear shape will have full hips and thighs with a defined waist. Their shoulders and bust will be smaller than their hips. Woman with pear shaped bodies generally want to pull attention up and away from the hips. Men on the other hand may want to attempt to draw attention up to their shoulders / chest.

People with apple shaped bodies have an fuller undefined waist with average to average busts. They will typically have a wider back, flatter bum, and smaller arms and legs. For trans women, the object here is to draw attention away from the mid section and towards the bust and / or legs.

Inverted Triangle
People with this shape have broader shoulders than hips. Their will be little difference between waist and hip size. This and apple seems to be the body shape I have noticed most commonly among trans women. The goal here for trans women is to minimize the shoulders / bust while accentuating the hips. For trans men you will want to minimize the breasts as much as possible.

People with this figure have no real definition. This is also called the "Boy Shape" but this is misleading. This does not equate to "man shaped". People with this shape have narrow shoulders, a small bust, a poorly defined waist, and little to no hip definition. The goal here is to give the body some kind of shape.

Advice for finding clothes that fit

As far as basic general advice for trans women I can offer the following:
  • Bootcut pants and jeans are your friend. They look good on everyone.
  • Flared skirts and dresses are great for most shapes where we want to accentuate the hips and create a waist.
  • Women's buttons up shirts fit close to the waist or flare out at the hips.
  • Dark colors help to minimize, lighter colors accentuate. To pull attention down try a light colored skirt with a darker top.
  • Belts might help to create a waist. I don't mean wear one as tight as possible... I mean having one on that fits at or around the belly button might help. Also, if you have an apple body shape belts may be a bad idea, especially wider ones.
  • Tight fitting clothes (especially on top) only accents the masculine form. (Think cute guy in a tight t-shirt).  Generally we want structure without the material being to clingy.
For trans men:
  • Slim - straight cut and flat fronted pants will help minimize the appearance of your hips. Avoid super tight (and super loose) pants as they can accentuate curves.
  • Well fitted (but not super tight) structured button up shirts are your friend. Note that mens shirts do not fit close to the waist or flare out at the hips.
  • Non symmetrical patterns can help camouflage your chest.
  • Plaid may make you look masculine but not like you are looking for?
  • Vests!
Below are some additional highlights and links to more in depth articles on specific topics we as trans women may run into. I would love suggestions for trans men as well! Feel free to comment below!

Broad Shoulders

This is a particularly common problem with trans women. Luckily there are a number of neck line (particularly V-Necks) and sleeve options to help minimize broad shoulders. Please check out my article on this. Also, dark colors really help... Bright flowery patterns generally do not.

Narrow Hips

This is another problem with many trans women... Like I said above, boot cut pants are great here as the add bulk lower on the leg. Also flared skirts are great. I find what works best for me is a light colored flared skirt with a dark v neck.

Unfortunately pencil skirts are hard to pull off with very narrow hips and wide shoulders but I do have a post with some tips to finding a pencil skirt that does actually fit. The problem usually is the skirt will fit your wasit but be way to big in the hips. One option is to always have your skirt tailored. You should avoid shopping for skirts that fit your hips and force your waist to suck in to much as this will make you look very barrel chested.

Additionally you could also buy some butt padding. This may sound silly but they do work and they are quite popular even among cis women.

Shoes and Boots

Like many women a lot of trans women gravitate towards cute shoes cause well... They are cute. I certainly can relate. I will warn that you should learn to walk in heels if you plan on wearing them... Preferably before you even buy a pair. Also, don't worry to much about your shoe size. If you have larger feet you may need to order your shoes but a lot of cis women are in the same boat.

One other problem I have always had in this area as well is finding boots. Most boot shafts are designed to accommodate wider calfs. Finding boots to fit more narrow calfs can be challenging but it is not impossible. Again, you could if you have the money have a pair made special for you.

More on Dressing Your Body Shapes

Shop Your Shape - To be honest I wouldn't "shop" from this site (mainly I like to try things on) but there are some wonderful tools. Just plug in your measurements and they will not only give you an explanation of your body shape but also what styles of clothing will look most flattering. Once your shape is calculated they give you information and suggestions including what kind of shirt sleeves look best on you, what types of pants look flattering and what style skirts look best!

On a side note: I promise I will learn how to spell!


Mithon Hasan said...

Thanks for such a informative article. I am seeking this topic for one month.

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Anonymous said...

Our newly-hatched transgender woman has asked me to sew her some flattering clothes. I took lots of measurements but could use guidance on selecting styles to minimize broad shoulders and make the most of a tall figure with no waistline definition and narrow hips. Any tips?

Katherine C said...

Newly hatched? Teehee... Any who. I like to wear light colors on the bottom, darker on top. Paradoxically, tight on top tends to define the masculine shoulders so stay away from clingy fabrics but flared skirts are great! Boot lean pants and jeans are the best way to go in that department. The links in the article above should help with necklines. It is hard to say. I am pretty straight up and down with moderately broad shoulders so I feel your pain.

Michelle said...

Hi Katherine! Thanks for all your recent outfit suggestions and advice. You have really encouraged me with your fashion sense for our body types. Also love the swing dresses you posted recently. I am thinking of a jean jacket top paired with one of these dresses to dress it down, or maybe a casual swing dress. Any suggestions? Love your blog... I follow it each day... Michelle

Katherine C said...

Working on more suggestions this weekend. And Thanks!

Cynthia Schames said...

I love this article and am so happy you posted it!! I found it when I was looking at resources on shopping for your body shape.

I wanted to point you toward a new resource that may be helpful for you & your readers: (disclaimer: I'm the founder of the company)

AbbeyPost makes custom made to measure dresses for all shapes and sizes. The dresses are made in the US with the highest quality materials and workmanship, arrive in less than 2 weeks, and are priced from $95-$185. We welcome you to try us out and would love to work with you to find the absolute perfect fit--you can use coupon code MTMLF22341 through April 1 for a 25% discount as well!

Hope to see you there :)

Trans Torino said...

I really love this article! It's very difficult to find something that fit!
Thank you!

Anonymous said...

The broad shoulder, narrow (or straight) through hips build is called athletic build. Very hard to find in women wear over a size 8.

Anonymous said...

Ok so you're having troubles finding clothes that fit with a trans-woman's figure, I am a size 8 with broad shoulders and I found this website that is PERFECT for us girls. Try this on for size:

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Ana wilson said...

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Amelie xona said...

Very nice information about finding clothes that fit.

Sandra said...

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Kelly Marshall said...

Love everything about this outfit - even the flare jeans! It's not a crazy flare. Skinnies and bootcuts and straight-leg jeans all have a place in my closet, but those super-flares do not and likely never will.

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