What to Wear as a Butch Midwife

So, what do you wear as a butch midwife? I’m still trying to figure that out. One answer I’ve come up with is this dapper gentleman to my right. What is more at the heart of midwifery than knitting? I could knit myself this handsome vest (already planned as my next big project), fit right in with midwifery and still be my beautiful butch self, right?

One of the main problems I have with dressing as a butch midwife is that I understand formal/business casual menswear. I also understand casual menswear. What I don’t understand is that very fine line between the very casual and the more formal that most midwives walk and how that translates into butchwear for me. I can’t just wear polos every day, and sweater vests are fantastic but completely unrealistic for the Austin heat. Add to the mix that I’m 5’2″ means that most men’s clothing does not fit very well and I’ve gotten myself into a real pickle (most men’s shorts look like poorly tailored capri pants on me, for example).

I have some growing to do for sure, part of which is discovering my own aesthetic. While I think that not knowing what to wear says more about my lack of education than the challenges of being a butch midwife, the fact remains that I could use an education. Do you, gentle reader, have any ideas for me, tips, suggestions, or places to explore?


18 responses to “What to Wear as a Butch Midwife

    • I’ve definitely thought about that as a possibility. It does mean shirts that don’t go to my knees, which is always a fantastic thing. I’ll have to look more closely in the future.

  1. I am not butch, and so have never considered this conundrum before! Its very intetrsting. I did, however, Have to buy a souls wardrobe that covered all of my tattoo work.

    Our local midwife Just wears scrubs. Is that Not an option you with to consider? During an interview I saw her in dark boot cut jeans with a plain button down.

    • Is your local midwife a CNM or a CPM, just out of curiosity? I know several midwives who wear scrubs if they have to transport to the hospital, but not any who wear scrubs during routine office visits or homebirths. Hmmm. Never thought of that option. That’s one I’ll have to keep thinking about – thanks for the idea!

      • Scrubs seem like a great option to me…especially if you get them in non-hospital colors. I have a couple pairs of khaki scrub pants for doula work, so they don’t read super-medical, but are comfortable, easy to move around in, fit with the environment, etc. You could pair it with a (not necessarily matching) scrub top, and for interest you could either get patterned scrub tops or layer scrub tops over a patterned shirt. (I tend to wear my scrub pants with a mock turtleneck shirt, in part because I have a generous bust and that 100% ensures that I don’t show any cleavage to my clients! But I don’t know if a mock turtleneck is very butch.)

  2. With my lack of clothes sense I have been wearing a lot of button downs lately and they tend to be able to suit most situations ranging from super casual to interview wear depending on how you wear them and what you wear them with. A nice button down and a sleek pair of boots are my best bet!

    • The problem with this advice, though, is that you happen to think motorcycle boots go with everything. :) Very dykey, yes. Not very practical in birthing situations and a smidge too heavy for the office. Although I have wondered what it would be like to be a midwife on a motorcycle and whether my birth gear could feasibly fit into saddle bags.

      • Eh, boots or loafers. Just something nice. And yes I wear motorcycle boots everywhere (Multipurpose dyke style!) but there are also nice boots that are less heavy and more sleek and styled which would do nicely in an office setting.

        Even this gentleman is wearing nice leather loafers which I would give a thumbs up for office butch style.

        I have to say that yes your birth gear would fit well in saddlebags (believe me, you can fit a ton of stuff in those things) and that when I start my motorcycle gang with mnd then you could totally be one of the founding members! You better start thinking of your cool midwife motorcycle nickname that we can put on your patch.

        • Some questions, if you will.

          A) Can you fit oxygen tanks into saddle bags? Two of them? Safely?

          B) Bloody Show isn’t badass enough for your motorcycle gang? I need something even cooler than that?

          • Um. Depends on the size of the oxygen tank? That or you could strap them to the sides and people might mistake them for rockets! And I suppose Bloody Show would be badass enough as long as you want to be referred to as “Hey you, Bloody Show!” for the rest of your life.

    • Thanks for sharing the link to S. Bear Bergman’s article, Jasmine! (Which in turn led to a surprisingly good for Austin lead.)

      I’ll keep thinking about this scrubs and medical jacket thing. To me on one hand it sort of defies the idea of homebirth-midwifery-wear, but on the other hand makes sense. It’s incredibly practical and is something our culture automatically sees as professional.

  3. I think menswear actually makes a lot of sense for midwifery. I’m thinking of the mens buttondown shirts and Dockers-style pants that are made of that special material that doesn’t stain…don’t think there’s a feminine equivalent. In the advertisement they pour a coffee all over the material and no stain is left behind. Sounds like a natural for natural childbirth.

    • I had no idea they made stain-resistant pants! What a fantastically novel idea. I should go into business selling midwives clothing made out of that material.

  4. I haven’t figured out the menswear, though I wear men’s buttondown shirts with a t-shirt underneath sometimes. More frequently, I wear women’s clothing that fits me better, partly as a way to manage my own dysphoria related to being closeted in the practices I work in. That way I have a work persona that is more feminine and gets she’d and a more myself persona (who also gets she’s most the time, oh rural maine, how i love you..). But I would never claim to be butch and would be way more queeny if it was so confusing to the people around me. (“how can you identify as a guy when you’re wearing THAT?!”)

    Combos that seem to work for me are button down shirts and stretchy dress pants, nicer jeans and button down shirts, and cardigans with either. All the women’s clothing I choose has a distinct absence of ruffles and heart or flowers, and i pick solid bold colors or stripes most of the time.

  5. Pingback: [Friday Wrap Up] | Notes From a Student Midwife

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