Androgyny: Melissa Millan’s quest to design the perfect button-down shirt

melissa millan


Melissa Millan knows just how hard it can be to find clothes you love. The mastermind behind Androgyny, a queer-centric but everyone-positive fashion startup, Millan spent 18 months designing a perfect button-down shirt: “A men’s aesthetic re-engineered to accommodate the female form.” Yes, you heard those magic words right.

Millan was working in investment banking when she decided to change gears. The improbability of walking into a store and finding the most basic thing – a button-down shirt – that actually fit was a source of ongoing frustration for her and she knew she wasn’t alone. For women who prefer more androgynous fashion, a woman’s shirt can look great on the rack but have way too much flare in the hips, or a “boob button” that pops; a man’s shirt can be all wrong in the sleeves and bulky in the shoulders. Often, otherwise neutral women’s shirts are made more intentionally “feminine” with little details like darts or  softened collars. It’s really just not easy to find a simple shirt.

With Androgyny, Millan set out to address these issues. While these are definitely much-lamented conundrums among queer women, there are certainly straight women who feel their best in clothes that lean toward “menswear,” and some trans*men have been thrilled with Androgyny‘s offerings after struggling to find clothes that fit their bodies properly. “The [lesbian] community knows [this shirt] was designed to solve their specific pain, but anyone else who feels empowered wearing our clothing should have access to it. It’s a broader solution.”

Millan had over 60 fit-testers during the shirt’s many iterations before it was brought to the market.  Getting it right (and having her products made fairly in the USA), seems to have made the 18 months well worth it.

The signature shirt is available in various prints, patterns and solids. It’s one of those designs you love so much, you want one in every color. You know – like your favorite underwear. It’s also a convenient shirt. The buttons are on the right side, like men’s shirts, so it doesn’t cost so darn much at the dry cleaner, though it’s machine washable, too. It’s also made so you can get out the door after a quick, light press instead of a lengthy and detailed ironing.

(Photo courtesy Melissa Millan/Androgyny)

Look at those shirts! (Photo courtesy Melissa Millan/Androgyny)

Androgyny’s Signature Shirt comes in S-XL, but other sizes are on the drawing board.

That’s it? Well, for now. Millan has aspirations to increase Androgyny’s offerings but won’t just sell things because they look cool. Other items will be problem-solvers too, continuing the trend of thoughtfully designed items. Androgyny may just become your go-to brand for clothes that really just work.

Learn more about Melissa Millan and Androgyny at

Want to check out the designs in person, east coast? Androgyny will be at Catwalk 718 presented by Whitney Day Events and dapperQ this Saturday night in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Catwalk 718 @ This n’ That (TNT), 108 North 6th Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn will be held from 10 pm – 4 AM. $5 before 11, $10 after, 21+ only. Dapper dress encouraged. For more details, visit the event’s Facebook page.

One Response to “Androgyny: Melissa Millan’s quest to design the perfect button-down shirt”

  1. Susan

    Good Morning . . . I cannot seem to get going on this website. It does tell me that my browser is out of date. Since we are groaningly and reluctantly starting to research new computer equipment in order to replace this dinosaur, I would rather avoid updating browsers.

    I’m also not too familiar with chatrooms, but being a gabby sort, would enjoy “talking.” doesn’t seem to have a “Contact us” section. All I can think of is writing to them. I did find a P.O. Box.

    I really am not sure if I’ll be able to return to this box, in order to check for replies but will try. It appeared . . . so I wrote.

    Just color me somewhat dumb about computer matters, but trying!


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