Laura Ruof is a fashion and beauty blogger at Call To Style. She Instagrams at @Call_To_Style.
Growing up, I had to wear a lot of my older brother’s hand-me-downs. Not without protest — I fought my mom on this constantly. “IT’S UNISEX!” she’d shout from inside my closet, after I'd find another of my brother’s shirts put there against my will. My mom, though she didn’t know it, was giving me the chance to experiment with mixing menswear into my style at an early age. I resisted wearing my brother’s clothes, in large part because she wanted me to wear them, in small part because I wanted to fit in at school. But, our budget was limited, and I had to figure out a way to incorporate these clothes into my outfits without becoming a middle-school social pariah. I had to learn how to mix conventionally “boyish” and “girly” clothes together in a way that made sense, and suited the style I was just learning to develop.
As it turns out, this necessity became a practice session for my future fashion sense. As an adult, I consider myself something of an expert at mixing masculine and feminine clothing, and certainly at bucking the rules that define the two. It became a part of my aesthetic without me realizing it, sort of embedding itself into my dressing DNA. Of course, this is a common theme in the fashion world — it's often toyed with on runways and in editorial spreads.
In terms of what’s considered “masculine” and what’s considered “feminine,” I believe there’s no strict line, but a cluster of items that project certain feelings. When I wear combat boots, sneakers, crisp button-downs and blazers, and any actual men’s clothing, I do so feeling like I’m bringing my masculine A-game. I add femininity to the mix with the classics: florals, skirts, dresses, and heels. For me, style is in how you mix the two, and I like to go for the extremes.
I’ll mix a super-frilly skirt with a rugged pair of jeans underneath, or a chunky, oversized sweater with a sleek pair of tailored pants and sneakers. I’ve been tweaking my mix since grade school (thanks, Mom), so I feel fairly practiced at it. Ahead, see a few examples of how I’m making it work this fall.