It’s no secret that drag originated in queer spaces, but gay and bisexual women were also among the first in European cultures to wear trousers and other traditionally masculine clothes, even outside the comfort of drag balls. The underground scene combined with the many gay designers who became big names in fashion led to the LGBTQ+ community leaving a lasting mark, from the everyday to the runway.
Traditional stereotypes still exist – androgyny of any kind will have strangers making guesses about your sexuality
In recent years, as queer identities have won more and more acceptance, and previously obscure fashion choices have been given space to move into the mainstream, new styles and identifiers have been adopted by the community. Traditional stereotypes still exist – androgyny of any kind will have strangers making guesses about your sexuality, but they are not the extent of LGBTQ+ expression.
As a gay woman myself, I have definitely been influenced by the fashion of the people in my community. I like to play with lots of different styles, so more often than not the flannels and snapbacks stay in my wardrobe, but embracing my identity doesn’t have to mean lumberjack chic. Everyone I’ve met defines their own brand of “queer fashion” differently, and for most it is just an extension of their personal preferences. The fact that “butch” and “femme” are such common terms really shows the spectrum of style that queer women can adopt.
So if clothes don’t define queer fashion, what does? There’s not really one answer. For some, clothes are the main aspect of their presentation. For others, the way they wear makeup shows their identity – using eyeliner to draw shapes on cheeks or noses just screams bisexuality to me, for example! The main way I like to use fashion to feel more connected to the LGBTQ+ community is through more permanent changes. Body modification, like tattoos and piercings, isn’t limited to queer people by any means, but it does have roots in punk and other similar subcultures, which, especially in the late 20th century, a lot of members of the queer community took inspiration from.
I love my piercings and tattoos, but in a lockdown it isn’t easy to satisfy my urge to get a piece of metal through a new part of my body. Fortunately, I have options which are a bit more DIY. Experimenting with different hairstyles is not only fun, but also gives you a lot of options with ties to queer culture. A few popular examples sported mostly by queer women include super short hair and even shaving part or all of your head. If that sounds a little too daring, undercuts give you a great balance, and you can easily hide them if you change your mind! You can also leave your hair alone entirely and get creative with eyebrows. The brow slit is a fun and subtle choice, but something about taking your hair and brows into your own hands is almost universally recognised as very, very gay.
Experimentation and gender non-conformity have always been at the core of queer fashion
As the LGBTQ+ community and the attitudes surrounding it continue to change, so will the associated fashion. The aesthetics that currently represent queerness will not stay as they are forever, but many of the themes are sure to persist. Experimentation and gender non-conformity have always been at the core of queer fashion, even while the specifics have evolved. However, not all queer people "dress queer". As fun as it is to express your identity through fashion, your personal taste should always come first, and the great thing about queer culture is its openness to individuality.
Featured Image: Keira Carr
All other images courtesy of Instagram