This year’s Pride didn’t have the razzle-dazzle of years past. It didn’t have a parade or concerts or nights in gay and lesbian bars, no access to that one time of year when we’re surrounded by people who get it, who are queer or questioning or different, just like us. Instead, there was fear of illness and protests for change, neither of which are foreign to the queer community. The sparkle and studded leather remained in doors this year, but the message rang true just the same:
People want to exist in the world feeling safe in it, and to be comfortable in their own skin.
Writers have always been a little different.
And it’s no secret that queer people have flocked to the artist’s way in order to truly be themselves. From Lord Byron’s flowing scarves and earth tones to Elizabeth Bishop’s baggy button-downs and boyish slacks, the idea of challenging gender has been in the writer’s fashion lexicon for centuries, and it is in that spirit that I offer you the following tips.
1. Start with neutral colors.
Our culture has done a good job at telling us which colors are “masculine” and which are “feminine,” which is why wearing mostly neutral colors like beige, brown, black, white, gray, soft earthy tones, and cotton and denim textiles, work so well for a gender-neutral approach to your outfit.
2. Try loose-fitting clothing and cool shoes.
Gender non-conforming fashion is unique in that it’s focus is physical and emotional comfort. One of the ways this is achieved is by taking attention off of the parts of the body that indicate sexuality and gender, such as the chest, waist and hips, and to instead accentuate parts that are more neutral, like the shoulders, neck and feet.
Tops include: t-shirts, button-downs, blazers, vests. Bottoms: relaxed-fit jeans, slacks, knee-length skirts. Shoes: loafers, boots, sneakers, sandals. Accessories: ties, bowties, scarves, suspenders, watches, glasses, backpacks, leather cross-body bags, necklaces and rings.
3. Make it pop!
Like Djuna Barnes in her dramatic polka dot turtle neck and dark fedora or Oscar Wilde in his velvet suit and ruffles, gender non-conforming clothing also welcomes experimentation, color, and flare. Try a pattern or unconventional color or texture, and definitely expand your shopping trip to check out men’s, women’s, and unisex clothing sections. The only real difference between them is the way the clothing is cut, and sometimes our bodies look and feel better in clothing that was marketed to someone else (case and point: the “boyfriend” jean). Pro tip: fold your shirt cuffs over twice for a subtle detail on the arms.
4. Make it matter.
Non-binary fashion came out of challenging assumptions about how we each relate to our gender, not only with our clothes, but with our actions. If women’s access to a pair of pants allowed them into the factories to work, it follows that fashion can change the way we exist in the world. Non-binary fashion is about breaking down the assumptions we have around femininity and masculinity and providing options that were previously inaccessible, both in the fashion world and in real life. It’s about comfort, confidence, and finding the version of yourself that is no slave to other people’s expectations of who you are, how you should dress, or what you are capable of.
Got a fashion question? Comment below! And for more from Poetess Vinny, you can follow her blog, Vinny the Snail.