The school year is significantly underway at this point, and it’s official: we’ve run out of outfits. Thankfully, though, there’s a whole other section to our favorite stores (as well as the closets of our dads or SOs) that provides us with plenty of other options—menswear!
While the daring celeb trend of ladies donning men’s suits may not be for you and you might not be quite prepared to go fully androgynous, there are still plenty of ways to use men’s pieces in your wardrobe. We polled some collegiettes for their favorite ways to incorporate men’s clothing into their wardrobe. Read on for what they came up with!
Oversized t-shirts are perfect for dresses and can be styled in really versatile ways. “Don’t be afraid to be oversized! I make XL men’s t-shirts and hoodies into dresses all the time,” says Brianne James, a senior at Ryerson University. Wrap a belt or button-down of some sort around your waist to give the dress some shape, or accessorize everywhere else and make a simple, solid t-shirt stand out.
You can slice up or stitch together anything you want if you start with a basic t-shirt. “The key to making them look a little tailored is in cuffing the sleeves (but not too much) two folds will do,” adds Brianna.
You can also purchase t-shirts from the men’s department just to stock up on basic, fallback pieces for your wardrobe! As men’s clothing generally tends to be cheaper than women’s, this is a budget-friendly solution for outfit essentials. “The fit also gets points for coziness because you cut out trying to find ‘fitted’ shirts that actually fit your shape,” says Emily-Rose Grieve, a third-year student at the University of Warwick.
2. Flannels and button-downs
If you’re a college student, you have likely discovered the perfection that are flannel shirts. They’re incredibly comfortable and long-lasting, and they’re wearable during all seasons with tons of different outfit types! Flannels can be styled with dresses, over tank tops and be an accessory. You can also pull a Justin Bieber and wear two at once, because why not? Flannels make the perfect complement to an outfit that’s otherwise really feminine. “I like to pair them with leggings, booties, and feminine jewelry, or if I’m wearing a simple t-shirt dress, I’ll wrap the flannel around my waist to give it some flair,” says Sarah Madaus, a sophomore at Temple University. “They’re always worn in and super comfy, and they aren’t fitted like women’s flannels.”
The baggy look is a huge plus. Not only does it make flannels more comfortable, it also means that layering won’t suffocate you! “I actually use only men’s flannels in the fall because women’s flannels usually are super tiny and don’t provide a lot of warmth and I personally don’t think they’re as versatile,” says Lee Martin, a senior at Christopher Newport University.
Men’s button-downs offer the same multi-purpose use as flannels but are a little on the dressier side. “I think a great way to incorporate clothing is with their button-downs. I know that this can often be sexualized, but they are more versatile than just a shirt to wear after a one-night-stand,” says Juli Cehula, a junior at St. Vincent College.
Button-downs work well tucked into skirts and pants, making them a perfect outfit option for work or an internship. However, they’re also really cute and boho-chic when untucked or partially tucked into a pair of distressed denim shorts or jeans! “Another one of my favorite looks is a button-down shirt tucked into high-waisted jeans,” says Emily-Rose. Pairing a button-down that’s on the looser side can also counter the tightness of your favorite jeans, creating a perfect balance in your look!
When they’re oversized, sweaters are another option that work really well in dress form! Men’s sweaters have a different fit than women’s do, so they’re great to wear over a collared shirt or dress, or as a kind of throw-on piece over shorts and a tank top in the summer. Who doesn’t love the off-the-shoulder look of a sweater that’s a little big on you?
Broken in sweaters are even better. Lift a few from a friend, brother or your dad—they probably won’t even notice! “I have stolen most of my father’s sweaters from his college days – there are big on me but so, so warm and very durable,” says Meena Nayagam, a third-year medical student at the University of St. Andrews.
Big sweaters make choosing an outfit really easy because they’re a statement piece of their own. Plus, any accessories or accents would get totally swallowed up! “Because they are quite large, I usually pair them with some tight jeans or a pair of black leggings,” Meena adds.
4. Jackets and outerwear
We don’t know when it happened, but boys’ coats have gotten really cute. Plus, it’s always nice to be able to breathe under all of your cold-weather layers! With men’s outerwear, you don’t have to worry about the constricting “feminine fit!”
Men’s coats also open up the possibility of blazers, bombers and varsity jackets. These more masculine pieces are always fun to pair with a dress or something lacy or frilly. Contrasting these two styles will give you a very enviable aesthetic. “Men’s bomber jackets > ladies,” says Brianne. “You can find cute and cheap men’s jackets in sale sections.”
Give the men’s sections of stores you already like a try. These items will likely go with the clothes you already have from those stores, and the odds of you liking the styles are higher! Our readers suggested Target, H&M, Abercrombie and the closets of their most stylish male friends and family members.
5. Tailor men’s clothing for your size or shape, or embrace the men’s look
Of course, you can take any men’s item you like and modify it to your liking (or leave it the way it is). Jeans or pants can become shorts, shirts can become tank tops and why not make ties into bracelets or chokers (or the classic headband or bow)? The possibilities are endless!
If you want to shop in the men’s section just for the more boxy fit than you’ll get in women’s stores, that works too. “Anything from an oversized men’s crewneck can work for women. You can wear it with a form-fitting skirt or skinny jeans,” says Nathalie Pena, a junior at SUNY Oswego. “As long as you have a balance with oversize and tight pairs of clothing, the look can work.”
Making clothes your own is what makes fashion fun. It’s an opportunity to get creative and express your personality through what you wear. “I shop in the men’s t-shirt section of thrift stores and places like Plato’s closet. I always find the coolest t-shirts and then from there tailor them to my style,” says Maddie H., a senior at the University of Cincinnati. “Whether it involves cut-outs at the neck or a simple knot at the bottom. Men’s t-shirts add a cool vibe to any look in my opinion and I love to rock it.”
You don’t have to go all out into menswear if you don’t want to. In fact, sometimes just adding one masculine piece really ties an outfit together. “When I started wearing more men’s clothes I found it helpful to choose one men’s item to wear with an outfit of women’s items,” says Lena Serkin Mazel a junior at Kenyon College.
Ultimately, the designation of certain clothing as meant for men and certain clothing as meant for women is totally arbitrary. Society doesn’t want us to realize that though, so, until that changes, keep rocking the (so-called) menswear!