Man-style shoes, slouchy pants, masculine tailored blazers and oversized shirts. Menswear as womenswear isn’t new, but it’s just gotten a whole lot more effortless. Merging past trends of sportswear and minimalism into a new take on boyish dressing, masculine styling for women hasn’t grown up – it’s grown down.

Or, you might prefer to say, it’s gotten boyish. It’s let go a little and embraced sneakers and untucked layers and too-cool-to-care attitude. But that doesn’t mean the whole look is without polish. After the break, a look at how slouchy, boyish and cool have come to equate to sexy. Oh and how you can style it yourself once the spring 2014 fashion trends kick in.

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Borrowing from boys: S/S '14
Borrowing from boys: S/S '14
Borrowing from boys: S/S '14
Borrowing from boys: S/S '14
Borrowing from boys: S/S '14
Borrowing from boys: S/S '14
Borrowing from boys: S/S '14
Borrowing from boys: S/S '14
Borrowing from boys: S/S '14
Borrowing from boys: S/S '14
Borrowing from boys: S/S '14
Borrowing from boys: S/S '14
Borrowing from boys: S/S '14
Borrowing from boys: S/S '14
Borrowing from boys: S/S '14
Borrowing from boys: S/S '14
Borrowing from boys: S/S '14
Borrowing from boys: S/S '14
Borrowing from boys: S/S '14
Borrowing from boys: S/S '14
Borrowing from boys: S/S '14
Borrowing from boys: S/S '14
Borrowing from boys: S/S '14
Borrowing from boys: S/S '14
Borrowing from boys: S/S '14
Borrowing from boys: S/S '14
Borrowing from boys: S/S '14
Borrowing from boys: S/S '14
Borrowing from boys: S/S '14
Borrowing from boys: S/S '14
Borrowing from boys: S/S '14
Borrowing from boys: S/S '14
Borrowing from boys: S/S '14
Borrowing from boys: S/S '14
Borrowing from boys: S/S '14
Borrowing from boys: S/S '14
Borrowing from boys: S/S '14
Borrowing from boys: S/S '14
Borrowing from boys: S/S '14
Borrowing from boys: S/S '14

The new masculine for women: slick vs slouchy.

If you were to divide masculine dressing for women into two main categories, there’s the slick, sexy kind (think more along the lines of the famous YSL Le Smoking) and the slouchy, effortless kind. The former never really stops being sexy, but it’s the latter that you’ll feel more strongly right now if you happen to place a finger on the spring 2014 pulse.

The mood right now is based upon a couple of things: slouchy, relaxed layers, oversized cuts, and an overriding effortless attitude. You might think of it as what happens when you pull together several of spring’s key pieces into one wardrobe theme: it’s slouchy wide leg pants, baggy culottes, easy sneakers, untucked shirts and minimalistic lines.

sexy boyish dressing
Boyish styling at All Saints, S/S ’14.

So how to wear it?

Relaxed layering.

This is masculine dressing in its formative years, not when it’s all grown up. So we’re not talking about perfectly put together dandy suits, here, but rather boyish details put through a refinement process. When it comes to layering:

  • Forget about tucking things in: let the bottom of your shirt boyishly hang out.
  • Keep the layers on top relaxed as well, so as to keep the lines of your outfit clean. You want to avoid having everything bunch up.
  • Try layering unbuttoned shirts, open jackets or oversized vests over shirts or t-shirts.
  • Play with lengths: Victoria Beckham’s cropped roll-neck over a short-sleeved shirt (below) is one unique way to mix it up, while Viktor & Rolf’s varied hem lengths were another.

relaxed layering for women
Slouchy layers at Viktor & Rolf, Victoria Beckham, and All Saints, S/S ’14.

Oversized anything (maybe even everything).

As you may have already noticed, cut is absolutely key to nailing masculine in just the right way this season. And the cut you’ll be wanting to look out for is anything oversized. Oversized is relaxed, effortless – it’s sexy because it’s carefree, as opposed to because it’s figure-hugging.

A note on this: aim for pieces that are oversized without being too big. But doesn’t that just contradict the point, you ask? Well think of it this way: you want pieces that are relaxed but still tailored, so they sit neatly on the body. This is where going for a deliberately oversized piece works better than picking up an actual menswear piece or an item that’s literally four sizes too big for you. There’s a different between a shirt that’s designed with a loose cut and a shirt that’s too big: the former will have the right proportions, the latter will fit badly in areas that matter, like the shoulders and waist.

  • Stella McCartney’s oversized bomber-jacket-come-dress (pictured, 3, below) is a perfect example of something that’s made to look cooly oversized while still mirroring the shape of the body.
  • You can wear oversized everything at once, or – if too much – opt for one bit of oversized tailoring and streamline the rest.
  • You can go for pretty much anything in a relaxed tailored cut: an oversized vest, oversized shorts or culottes, pants, shirt or jacket.

oversized masculine clothes for women
Oversized pieces at Band of Outsiders, All Saints, Stella McCartney and ICB, S/S ’14.

White, minimal, masculine.

So strong on the spring 2014 runways was this specific way of styling, that it warrants a mention. Yes it’s deeply rooted in sporty fashion, but it’s not entirely the same. One way of wearing boyish tailoring is by way of white, minimal and masculine ensembles.

  • A pair of slouchy white pants affords countless options for spring. Wear them with sneakers and a white singlet, or add a slick pair of heels to feminise the look further.
  • Go for a fresh-feeling spring 2014 beauty look that doesn’t scream of high maintenance. A smudge of kohl liner and bare lips or a natural look framed by strong brows keeps the boyishness in check.

minimalist white masculine outfits
Minimalist masculine dressing at BCBG, Calvin Klein and Daks, S/S ’14.

Masculine-feminine: skirts work too.

Just because you’re going for masculine or boyish, doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to skirts (or your pins). Knee-length or midi-length skirts look the most effortless and tomboyish this spring – as seen at Viktor & Rolf and Wood Wood, styled with flat shoes and sporty details – but you can also go for a shorter hem length paired with a slouchy top.

boyish outfits with skirts
Boyishly styled skirts at Viktor & Rolf and Wood Wood, S/S ’14.

Be slouchy not sloppy: how to walk the line.

You put on a pair of relaxed pants, an oversized shirt (left untucked), and a slouchy knit, throw on some casual kicks and stand in front of the mirror. Somehow the quality of nonchalant cool has eluded you. Instead you feel as sloppy and deflated as a failed vanilla soufflé.

If the above has happened to you, don’t despair just yet. You might have missed an ingredient, or gotten your measurements wrong. Effortlessness is, ironically, a recipe that’s surprisingly easy to mess up. If your look is leaning to the haplessly messy side, try doing the following:

  • Recognise your figure type, accept and embrace it.
    There’s a reality here that can’t be ignored, so let’s not gloss over it: oversized pieces are more easily carried off by tall, boyish frames and slender figures. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make the masculine trend your own: you just need to experiment with which shapes and cuts work best on you. One simple way to negate all-over slouch is to draw in the waist, or pair a fitted top with loose pants.

all slouchy vs cleanness
Slouchy all over versus relaxed cleanness: at Karen Walker and Stella McCartney S/S ’14.

  • Attitude. Check that you have it.
    The one ingredient that’s non-negotiable in carrying off boyishly-cool is attitude. This comes from wherever you may take it, be it by adding an on-trend hairstyle that perfectly suits you, some lashings of your coolest jewellery, your favourite men’s oversized watch or a hand shoved carelessly in a pant pocket. Carry it with conviction.

camille charriere boyish styling
All about the attitude: boyish styling on Camille Charriere.

  • Clean, press, and iron.
    Relaxed does not necessarily mean crumpled, people. In this incarnation of effortlessly boyish, you still want to look polished and luxe. Make sure your oversized layers are crisp, your minimalist white trainers are clean, and your slouchy pants are ironed. Effortless takes at least a little bit of effort.

slouchy womens outfit
Cool but clean: All Saints S/S ’14.

Related trends: more on what to wear.

wide-leg pants: how to wear them in 2014

Wide-leg pants: how to wear them in 2014

These aren't your parents' flares. Relaxed, easy, and cool, wide leg trousers make are back in fashion this summer. Comfortable and with all the potential to become sophisticated, they're a statement worth making in summer 2014. Read our guide on how to style wide leg pants this year.

the return of mid-cropped culottes & how to wear them now

The return of mid-cropped culottes & how to wear them now

Nothing says fashion forward like being the first to jump onto a bold new shape. And while culottes aren't exactly new, their volume and proportion in spring 2014 is unlike what we've seen in recent memory. Now considered ultra-chic, as well as figure forgiving, the mid-cropped culotte should be on your radar for spring 2014.

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