Nov 9, 2023
Personal Style and Expression in FTM Clothes: Mixing Masculine and Feminine Elements
Finnegan Shepard Founder of Both&
Personal Style and Expression in FTM Clothes
In 2023, the conversation around gender identity and presentation has radically opened up, compared to even a few years ago. There are far more resources, terms, and forms of representation that express the broad spectrum of gender queer identities. In fact, it has become so nuanced and broad that it can sometimes be difficult, when exploring these resources, to figure out exactly what language to use or what form of expressing yourself feels most accurate. Here’s the truth: whether you identify as non binary, FTM, enby, gender queer, transmasc, or any other term, there’s no right or wrong way to be. All of these identities are valid, have overlapping yet unique histories and characteristics, and are ever changing as the conversation around gender evolves. If you are reading this article, that probably means that you are interested in/identify with the term ‘FTM’ and how it relates to clothing.
Today, we are going to talk about what is meant by FTM clothing, how one customizes and styles an FTM wardrobe, as well as point to brands that are designing specifically for folks looking for FTM clothing.
The Basics of FTM Clothing
The basics of FTM clothing start with what is ‘basically’ meant by the term FTM. FTM stands for female to male, and is used most often to describe folks who were assigned female at birth and are transitioning (whether medically or socially or both) to a male identity. Clothing for FTM people, then, is clothing that is made to create a masculine silhouette or shape, but in proportions that fit bodies that were assigned female at birth. Whether you take hormones or get surgery or not, bone structure never changes. This means that the length to width proportions of cisgender male clothing generally is not a good fit for trans men/FTM people. That is why clothing made in different proportions, specifically for this group of people, is the foundation of FTM clothing.
Mixing Masculine and Feminine Elements
But what about mixing masculine and feminine elements in your gender expression? Amazing! Mixing different ‘typical’ or ‘traditional’ elements of gender into a wardrobe is something that many gender queer people love to do, and it can be an incredibly fun and empowering act.
One of the important things to consider is what clothing creates gender joy and what clothing can create dysphoria. Often, there is a distinction between what people feel comfortable wearing in terms of the style it has versus how it fits or feels on their body. For instance, the most common triggers of dysphoria in clothing for FTM people are around the hips and the chest. When clothing clings to curves or pinches the hips, this can be incredibly dysphoric. However, many FTM people who are able to find clothing that fits in the way they like, not emphasizing the chest and having plenty of room at the hips, then feel empowered and comfortable to play with more feminine elements on top, whether that’s in the form of layers or accessories.
This is of course not true for everyone and you need to explore your own comfort levels and be open and honest with yourself whenever you put on a piece of clothing about whether it makes you feel good or whether it is uncomfortable or anxiety provoking. At the end of the day, the goal is for the act of getting dressed to be a joyful act, something that makes you feel seen for who you are and makes you comfortable all day long.
Customizing your FTM Wardrobe
One common theme we’ve found in our extensive research with the FTM community is to build a wardrobe in two steps. 1) Find a brand that carries the basics that fit you well and make you comfortable and confident in your body, and then 2) use thrift shopping or upcycle clothing to add flair and one of a kind customization to your wardrobe. This technique seems to work best for the community because of the fact that mainstream fashion brands all design using cisgender fit and sizing systems, so getting basics and trusting they will fit from mainstream fashion labels is almost impossible, and because thrifting offers the opportunity to shop more by shape/fit. Think of your wardrobe as composed of shapes and style. Find the right shapes, and then play with style.
What Constitutes FTM Clothing?
There is no set definition of what constitutes FTM clothing. Technically, any clothing worn by someone who identifies as FTM is FTM clothing. That could be baggy jeans, a dress, hand me downs from an older brother, or a androgynous jumpsuit found at a local thrift store. However, circling back to a point we made above, what distinguishes FTM clothing from other kinds of clothing is the innovation around fit and proportions. It is a totally new innovation in the fashion market, but brands do now exist which have put in the work to collect data and build a totally new fit and sizing system specifically for FTM people. These brands then make garments that emphasize muscle, create more square or rectangular shapes, and don’t cling or reveal curves.
How to Blend Masculine and Feminine Features
One of the great things about the internet is that it has given us access to so many style and aesthetic inspirations, especially around gender identity and presentation, that were much harder to access before. When you are exploring your own gender identity and presentation, it can be incredibly helpful and therapeutic to look for inspiration amongst other members of the community. We are not here to say how to blend masculine and feminine features–ultimately that is a choice that is 100% up to you. What we are here to say is that there is no right or wrong way to do it, only what feels accurate and empowering and joyful to you. So go out there, look for inspos, and enjoy yourself!
If you are looking for the basics to build out your FTM wardrobe, Both& is the brand that has perfect fit for FTM people: