Tomboy Style: The 12 Essentials You'll Need to Get It Right

Tomboy fashion has changed a great deal over the years. Once upon a time, if you had an inkling that you were into more masculine clothing, you'd have two options: actually wearing men's garments or settling for some pretty below-par "mannish" staples like baggy boyfriend jeans or boxy shirts. These days, though, stealing from the boys has become an artform—both in terms of womenswear designers creating more and more female figure–friendly menswear-inspired garb and in terms of the rules of styling them.

One fashion commentator, Navaz Batliwalla—the writer and blogger behind Disney Roller Girl—has hit this nail on the head in her recently released book, The New Garçonne (£13). It's a celebration of modern tomboy style, where the rules are meant to be broken, and expresses that just because you're wearing a suit doesn't mean you have to abide by the laws of shirt + flat shoes + tie + no makeup. It's what she also dubs "gentlewoman style": Think of dapper women who rely on the quality and heritage of perfectly made pieces, like fine penny loafers or a sharp Savile Row suit, and "who embody a quietly assured, masculine-feminine style."

Throughout the past decade's street style explosion, it could be easy to overlook the subtle garçonnes for the all-guns-blazing drama of a sweeping, glittering gown with the Champs-Élysées for a backdrop. But delve a little deeper into the archives and you'll see that there's been a steady increase in industry women eschewing the frivolities of flirty, ultra-pretty, whimsical fashion for the cooler tropes of the tomboy.


(Image credit: Style Du Monde)

Just think of the big—almost now staple—trends that have continued to crop up over the last few seasons. Loafers? Blazers? Reworked shirting? Sneakers? Sweatshirts? Tailored trousers? All very much part of the menswear world to begin with, but now very much a part of our own.

As you can see from Erika Boldrin and Linda Tol (above, in Milan), there's an easy ratio that can allow your tomboy fashion choices to shine and live on well into 2017. Go for 95% new garçonne and leave a slither of 5% femininity to get the balance just right. Try, for example, a miniskirt with menswear basics, or a pair of showstopping earrings and pointed flats worn with sombre separates.

Shop our favourite modern tomboy fashion picks in the gallery below…

Hannah Almassi
Editor in Chief

Hannah Almassi is the Editor in Chief of Who What Wear UK. Hannah has been part of the the Who What Wear brand since 2015, when she was headhunted to launch the UK sister site and social channels, implement a localised content strategy and build out the editorial team. She joined following a seven-year tenure at Grazia magazine, where she led front-of-book news, fashion features and shopping specials as fashion news and features editor. With experience in both print and digital across fashion and beauty, Hannah has over 16 years in the field as a journalist, editor, content strategist and brand consultant. Hannah has interviewed industry heavyweights such as designers including Marc Jacobs and Jonathan Anderson through to arbiters of taste including Katie Grand and Anna Dello Russo. A skilled moderator and lecturer specialising in the shift to digital media and e-commerce, Hannah’s opinion and work has been sought by the likes of CNBC, BBC, The Sunday Times Style, The Times, The Telegraph and, among many others. Hannah is often called upon for her take on trends, becoming known as a person with their finger of the pulse of what’s happening in the fashion space for stylish Brits. Hannah currently resides in Eastbourne with her photographer husband, incredibly busy son and highly Instagrammable cat.