In an earlier post (about the sublime book/exhibit Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty) I said that my style was beat — as in the Beat Generation. Jeans, boots, t-shirts — nothing fancy or frilly. But “beat” wasn’t quite right. Then a friend told me about the blog Tomboy Style and I thought, this could be it.
For a long time — though my late 20s and into my 30s — I liked what I called a “kiddish” element to my look. I came up with “kiddish” because of some confusion a friend had when I asked her if she thought I dressed too young. Young to her meant sexy and there’s no way my kiddishness was sexy. Exhibit A: little Keen sneakers.
So I retired my little Keen sneakers, but I kept my Converse.
(I persuaded myself that these look more European than kiddish.)
My rule now, though, is that I can only wear these little sneakers with an outfit that is in no other way kiddish. So if I wear my little boy’s watch — the one with the stretchy cammo band and a tiny helicopter that flies around the face as a second hand — I can’t wear the sneakers.
(Unless I’m running out to take the twins on a quick stroll; the watch is pretty small and isn’t that noticeably kiddish.)
The whole idea of tomboy style (according to the site) is “an inherent sense of confidence, rebelliousness, and adventure.” Claiming these attributes as your own feels a little like knighting yourself (which would be pretty awkward — if not dangerous — getting that blade to touch both shoulders cleanly). But if you’re rebelling against heels and wearing little sneakers, chances are you can be confident that you can be more physically adventurous than if you were wearing, say, spikes.
Tomboy Style has loads of gorgeous images (be sure to click on the labels 20s, 30s, etc. for tomboy style by decade) but here are a few of my own favorite tomboys that I’ve come across in fact and fiction.
Officially Dora Carrinton, Carrington dropped her first name around the time she cropped her hair. She was an artist and a fringe member of the Bloomsbury group, which included Virginia Woolf, Vanessa Bell and Lytton Strachey. She liked dressing in boy’s clothes, especially when traveling with her life-partner, the homosexual Lytton Strachey. (Yes, it was complicated.)
Emma Thompson as Carrington in the film of the same name.
So many gorgeous images to choose from — both tomboy and glamour. But Hepburn — Kate — favored the tomboy look in real life as well as on screen. Talk about “a sense of confidence, rebelliousness, and adventure.”
Finally, Anna in Beginners:
Even when she wasn’t cross-dressed in a suit at a costume party, Anna had tomboy style. Having Ewan McGregor — and a pair of roller skates — as an accessory doesn’t hurt either.
If you dig tomboy style — and who wouldn’t? — who are your favorite tomboy icons?