Before I begin, I should point out that I'm not exactly a Boystyle expert, I haven't even worn pants outside of work since 2003, so maybe this should have been left to someone a little more in the know than I am. I do know quite a bit about it just from being part of the Lolita community for so long, but if I am totally off-the-wall incorrect about any of this, feel free to point it out to me.
What makes a Boystyle outfit
- Pants- The most important part of a Boystyle outfit. There are a variety of different kinds of pants to choose from in Boystyle: Formal men's pants, ultra wide-legged pants, puffy shorts (I always want to call these "pumpkin shorts" because of Poupee!) knickerbockers, and even split shorts attached to leg warmers, or pants with attached half skirts for the more punk styles. The one kind of pants I would stay away from in the Boystyle world is jeans. A pair of plain black jeans with no holes or fading is okay, but that's really about it when it comes to jeans.
- Socks/Tights- An important addition to the Boystyle look is socks or tights! A black and white striped pair is the classic look, but just about any matching pair, in a solid color or a print, will look good.
- Headwear- Headwear is not as essential to Boystyle as it is Lolita for completing a look. Instead of bows, flowers, and ruffles of lace, the perfect Boystyle headwear is a full-sized hat. A top hat is always classic, but bowler hats and newsboy caps also look good. Avoid mini-top hats if you're wearing Aristocrat, save them for Kodona or a more childish look.
- Vest- A plain vest is the perfect addition to a Boystyle outfit, worn either with just a blouse, or under a jacket. If you're looking to add some color to a Boystyle outfit, a vest in whatever color you would like is the perfect way to do it.
- Jacket- Not always necessary, but it can complete an outfit. A fancy jacket over a vest and a blouse always looks smart. You can find fancy jackets anywhere, but if you really want your outfit to look different (and to avoid the butler look) you might want to look into a Japanese brand such as Black Peace Now or Atelier Boz for a very unique looking jacket.
- Shoes- A clunky pair of gothic looking shoes is the perfect Boystyle shoe. Boots look great too, either knee boots, or mid-calf. If you plan on wearing long pants then any kind of formal men's style shoe will do. But you really can't just wear any old Lolita pair of shoes with Boystyle, certainly not your handy Tea Parties, as they are much too cute. Also avoid any kind of shoe with a pointy heel, as you might end up looking more foppish and less Dandy.
- Accessories- Boystyle is less accessory driven than Lolita. All you really need to accessorize a Boystyle outfit is a fancy necktie, a brooch, a few gothic rings, and maybe a rose tucked into your hat band. Pick one or two of those and you're all set. And maybe carry a cane if you really want to look stylish.
The different styles of Boystyle
Boystyle Aristocrat is very similar to the female version of Aristocrat. It is a very Victorian Gothic style, nearly always done in black, with long jackets, frilly blouses, and minimal decoration. In Aristocrat, blouses are often high-necked, or with a pointed collar, and frequently are decorated with a jabot. Rounded Peter Pan collars are rarely ever seen in Aristocrat. Instead of the full skirts in the female version of the style, Boystyle Aristocrats tend to wear either straight legged formal men's pants, or those very wide legged pants that almost look like skirts. I have no idea what those pants are called. Sometimes the Aristocrat's pants are covered up entirely by a very long, almost priestly, jacket much like the one in this picture.
There are quite a few different sub-styles of Boystyle, and there is, as always, a lot of overlap, but I'll be going over the basics in this post. While Lolita's different sub-styles are often based on things like color schemes and motifs, Boystyle's sub-styles are usually based on things like pant length and general "age" of the outfit.
thiiiink this style is also called Ouijisama, I usually don't use the Japanese names for fashions, so don't quote me on that! Short pants, tights, a pair of clunky shoes (usually not boots), and a vest worn over a frilly blouse (leave the jacket at home) are the Dandy basics. Dandy tends to be a little more frilly or decorated than Aristocrat. Peter Pan collars are okay, big floppy bows usually replace jabots, but sometimes those rounded Lolita ties are seen instead. Pants are often just above the knee, or just below the knee. They are usually either a pair of puffy knickerbockers or a pair with a cuff.
While these three tend to be the main sub-styles of Boystyle, there are a few different looks to Boystyle. While on their own, something like Punk or Gothic isn't necessarily Boystyle, it is a look that Boystyle can take on. These are, of course, Japanese versions of Punk and Gothic, which are quite different from their Western versions.
Things to avoid when putting together a Boystyle outfitI think the most important thing to avoid while dressing Boystyle is to try not to look like a butler or like you're taking someone to prom. I know it sounds silly, but I've seen this happen several times. Men's formal wear does not Boystyle make. Sometimes the line is a blurry one, especially with the more Aristocratic styles. It's really all in the details, a funky shaped toe to your shoes, a Victorian cut to your jacket, a big floppy tie, raw edges on your shirt, these things will all help you look like you're not just there to take people's coats. If you honestly don't think you can pull off a look that doesn't make people want to call you Jeeves, stick with the more childish or punk sub-styles of Boystyle.
On the other hand, you don't want to look you just came out of a Visual Kei bondage themed music video. Jrock cosplay does not Boystyle make either.
Another thing to watch out for when wearing Boystyle are lengths. Boystyle has a lot of odd lengths (long jackets, short pants, long socks, tall boots) and you can end up looking very unbalanced if you just throw on a random assortment of pieces. There really aren't any strict rules about lengths, and it usually takes some trial and error to find out what looks best on you. But there are a few things I would avoid, such as wearing pants that stop just above the knee with boots or socks that end just below the knee, matching very short pants with knee socks, wearing a jacket that's much longer than your pants, or having the top of your boots stop somewhere under your short pants. Basically, you don't want to leave large patches of skin uncovered, awkward little slivers of skin, or too much overlapping, simply because these things tend to look awkward.