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Masc Clothing

Feb 22, 2024

Masc Clothing: a Guide

Finnegan Shepard Founder of Both&

When we say ‘masc’ in 2024, what do we mean? And how does this translate to clothing? In our opinion, the word masc is a fun and effective term, because it has layers of meaning built into it. Masc is short for masculine–but engrained in its usage is a distinction from the binary. How does that work? Well, saying ‘masc’ is different than saying ‘men’s’ or ‘male.’ Instead, it comes from an adjective (masculine), and the shortening furthers its idiomatic sense, so that it comes across as an expression of masculinity, generally by someone who was assigned female at birth. It could be someone who identifies as a trans man, as enby, as gender queer, or even as a cisgender woman, presenting masc. The word is effective because it is compressed: it points both towards what is being expressed (masculinity), and also, by nature of the word, who it is coming from.

So, if you like the term masc, or are intrigued by it as a concept, you may then wonder how it ends up being played out in gender. One of the core ways this happens is through clothing. So, without further ado…


What is masc clothing?

Sometimes it’s easiest to understand something by figuring out what it’s not. Masc clothing is not men’s clothing, worn by a cis man. Masc clothing is also not traditionally femme clothing, worn by anyone. So what is it? Well, it’s masculine style clothing, or clothing worn in a masculine way, by someone who isn’t a cisgender man.

Say what?

Let’s use some pictures to help explain.

Billie Eilish in oversized black t-shirt with green flames
Image credit: Lars Crommelinck Photography

This is masc.

And so is this:

Older woman wearing brown Finnegan shirt that hides curves

And this: Transmasc person with shaved head and tattoos, shirtless, wearing jeans And this:

Black woman wearing white v-neck shirt and dark trackpants
Photo courtesy of: VEER


How is Masc Different as a Style?

One of the things that’s so great about masc as a term is that it’s an umbrella term that encompasses many other identities and forms of presentation, including androgynous, tomboy, gnc, transmasc, queer, butch, and others. The term is very much a by product of the cultural moment we live in, in which gender is increasingly understood as something that is not fixed or static, but instead something in flux, that can be played with and presented in an infinite number of ways.

With that being the case, how can we understand masc as a distinct style? Can we even delineate it as a distinct style?

Yes and no. As you saw above, masc can be Billie Eilish in an oversized tee. It can be someone who identifies as an old school butch wearing Both&. It can be a trans man in boxers and oversized denim. It can be a model who identifies as a tomboy. In other words, masc isn’t prescriptive. You don’t have to wear a certain kind of clothing to have a masc style.

But what does unify masc as a concept (and style) is the way in which it plays with gender. By the way, this isn’t an agreed upon definition, this is something that we talk about a lot at Both& and have come to an internal definition about. We believe that masc as a concept embraces the idea that gender is something that is both beautiful and meaningful and very real in very many ways, and also something that is pliant, ever-changing, and there to be played with. A masc style, in our estimation, is a practice of play with gender.

Masc style:
a practice of play
with gender

4 images: Portrait of person wearing lilac Romeo tank from behind, Nonbinary person in black button down and denim, cropped image of a person sitting in cuffed dark jeans and black sneakers, portrait of nonbinary model in pink Ame beanie and black Elmo hoodie

How Do You Masc?

We are always eager to see more representations, definitions, and musings on masc. If you want to participate in the conversation, please head over to our Discord and say hi! You can join our channels and discuss masc till the cows come home here.

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