How to borrow clothes from your guy's closet

Cozy sweater. (Courtesy of American Apparel)

Cozy sweater. (Courtesy of American Apparel)

Natalia Manzocco QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:12 PM ET

Borrowing pieces from the man in your life (or taking a peek into the men's section) is a surefire way for a woman to bring visual interest to her wardrobe. A hint of androgyny in a look can add an element of confidence, polish -- even subversiveness.

A cozy fisherman's sweater on the weekend can be playful and relaxed, but a men's dress shirt with a few undone buttons is impossibly alluring. And many perennial wardrobe staples don't even need men's and women's iterations -- think plain Hanes tees and classic Converse sneakers.

Shannon Hazell, a stylist and rep for Toronto-based clothing company Kovalum, points to the lived-in, familiar appeal of those menswear pieces -- think of it as the "boyfriend effect". "It makes you feel like you're being comforted," she says. "There's something about that that women really love."

Hazell adds that the trend is a versatile one -- it can be pulled in preppier or edgier directions. For a polished look with a casual flair, explore the possibilities of a men's button-down.

"I do see a lot of women wearing oversized men's shirts, for sure -- going for the untucked look, a very comfortable kind of fit," Hazell says.

A slimmer-cut men's shirt will help you avoid looking like a kid playing dress-up. For a softer take on the button-down, try a club-collar shirt. "It's an old collar from the turn of the century, and it almost has a softer edge to it. The look is kind of something that you would see in Downton Abbey," she says.

The world of watches is also going for a masculine update, with women flocking toward the sort of bold, commanding timepieces generally worn by men as status symbols.

"It's about showing the world that as a bold and ambitious individual, you wear a timepiece that is reflective of your personality," says Rose Levy, president of Ottimo Creations, the Canadian distributor for TW Steel watches.

Levy adds that the company has stopped designating different styles as women's or men's. Today, she says, "women will buy what they like."

Bracelet and leather strap styles are popular; if you're worried a huge face and a chunky strap may be a little too much, try on a women's model with an oversized face and a thinner band for balance.

Men's suiting accessories may be a department less travelled for women, but Haskell urges women not to shy away from ties. "Ties are style icons -- think of (Diane Keaton as) Annie Hall and Marlene Dietrich. Both of those women really wore ties well."

To feminize the look, Haskell suggests staying away from heavier fabrics -- go for a fun floral. When mixing in menswear pieces, proportion is key. For larger, boxier items, tweak them to fit your shape: Hazell suggests adding a vest or a belt around the hips to cinch in a blousier shirt. Try belting a men's blazer that's loose in the waist. Rolling up sleeves can add a carefree touch to a tailored shirt. Above all, Hazell says, comfortable cuts and soft fabrics are key to that "stolen-from-his-closet" look. "I think that's kind of the key element, when you're borrowing from the boys. It's got to feel good."


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