The first time I went into my favorite men's shop in LA, I went in to buy a gift for a guy and ended up walking out with more for myself. I'd been buying and wearing men's clothes since I was a teenager, but when I stood there in the shop that day, I still deigned to joke, "Is it weird that I'm buying men's clothes?"
It was nothing new to me. And I knew the answer was, "No." But something in me still compelled me to ask, so that I could be the first one to point it out. Was it weird that I liked men's clothes so much? No. Was I still insecure about it? Hell yeah.
Let me clarify: I am not insecure about my femininity. That has always been strongly rooted in me, though I've often chosen less traditional ways of demonstrating it. And that was what I was insecure about: That I had chosen something decidedly unfeminine to outwardly reflect my inner femininity.
Today, it's become commonplace for me, something I own: My love of menswear. An insecurity I've rid myself of by replacing it with deeper self-understanding and confidence. So much so that when I travel with a boyfriend or hang out with guy friends, I often drag them to new men's stores, not because they want to go but because I do. It's a deep-rooted love, one founded in the appreciation for the traditional menswear approach of designing around functionality and durability. Details over trends. Quality over mass-quantity. Style over fashion.
Womenswear defines itself differently, focusing instead on the latest trend and how to produce it cheaply and quickly. For womenswear, fast-fashion rules and it's fast-fashion, in particular, that has lodged a chink in the chain of timeless design for us. When the first focus is on how quickly and cheaply you can produce clothing, you care less about how long it will last (not to mention the ethics of mass manufacturing and unrestricted labor laws, but that’s a whole ‘nother article). Like a snake eating its own tail, there’s a cyclical nature to the female shopping experience: When the consumer is looking to keep up with all the latest trends at the most affordable prices, it breeds an unhealthy competition in an industry intent on supplying her the means to an end.
That's not to say fast-fashion doesn't also play a prominent role in menswear. But it plays less of a role - or at least the need for quick, seasonal turnaround does. The male shopping experience typically centers itself more on longer-lasting wear that needs to be replaced less often. That's why for the past several years, I've shopped almost exclusively at menswear stores - finding that my priority for a well-made product outweighed that of finding a better fit in womenswear garments.
With few exceptions, the only women's brands I've bought and worn in the ongoing years have been the brands on this site. The ones that, through time and research, I've found to live up to the TC&G motto of, "Well-Made, Worn Better." Out of my research and my goal to keep heightening female voices in the slow-fashion movement, TC&G was born. Out of my desire to find well-made garments and goods tailored to women that stick to the traditional menswear approach of focusing on detail and functionality, TC&G was crafted. And out of my desire to bring women goods and products they can count on (and perhaps even share with the men in their lives), TC&G will live.
There’s a reason we don’t call it tomboy style here at TC&G. It has never felt distinctly unfeminine to me to dress the way that I do, the way that makes me feel strong and capable. I’ve never much cared for anything that can’t keep up with my life: a purse that I’m afraid to put down while I'm traveling; shoes that can’t carry me up a beach cliffside; clothes that I’m concerned with getting a little dirt and dust on while I’m working. Sure, those things have a place - but not here, and not in my everyday life. The tom style is for women who live beyond the feminine stereotype. It is, in itself, a concept of femininity for the woman who abides by it.
It’s not for everyone. It’s not even for all the time. There are certainly times where I dress up and feel incredible, but more often than not, you can find me in those broken-in boots, those patched-up jeans, and that t-shirt that’s made it through a thousand washes and will last a thousand more. That’s when I’m most comfortable. When I’m most myself. And when my style reflects that.
x Arielle, Founder and Owner of Tom Clothes & Goods