Wardrobe Refresh and the Queer Aesthetic
[Cover art by the author]
Y’all. I need to shake up my wardrobe.
Well, maybe I don’t need to, but, like with other elements of my life (*cough, cough, my job, cough*) I’m feeling somewhere on the scale of “in a bit a of a rut” to “fucking exhausted.” My clothes even look tired. They too, seem burnt out.
Also, I don’t feel much like myself in them anymore.
I have a lot of major changes on the horizon, chief amongst them an apartment move. In an upcoming post, I plan to discuss my related Konmari adventures and explorations of minimalism as a poor person, but for now I have a dilemma to unpack. And old clothes to re-pack, incidentally.
Maybe my sartorial dissatisfaction is due to these impending transitions, or the change of season, or the astrologically-influenced restlessness of the past three weeks. Whatever the cause, it’s got me thinking a lot about the value of personal expression through fashion and the politics/philosophies surrounding the topic.
You see, I struggle with feeling guilty for caring about fashion and personal style. But personal style can matter a lot! Especially to queer folks and people whose identities are constantly erased or appropriated by the dominant culture. Fashion provides ways for us to reflect who we are and how we want to be seen. We are literally made visible. And that is very powerful.
Yet, I’ve been made to feel like I shouldn’t care about clothes. Or accessories, or makeup. I’ve had alleged progressives tell me that it’s anti-feminist, pro-capitalist, and at the very least superficial. In parallel shaming efforts, conservative-minded people have tried to convince me that it is inappropriate to prioritize such interests as a poor person. (These are the same types that are appalled at folks buying organic produce with their WIC cards). My preference for minimalism and simplicity also seems at odds with such supposedly frivolous pursuits, but I’d bet there’s a bunch of classism and other nastiness built into that somehow too.
As a teenager, I coveted my September Vogue. Was that problematic? I was living in poverty, but rather than making me feel small with all its portraits of decadence, what I saw in those pages were options.
I finally saw queerness -- in the awkward silhouettes of Alexander McQueen and the many many layers of Marc Jacobs -- and it was called beautiful. Femininity and masculinity were all mashed together, and women could be stylish while modest or revealing. Where I grew up, "fashionable" meant Abercrombie & Fitch (which almost no one I knew could afford). Discovering that there was something else out there, before fashion blogs were a thing, before accessible chain retailers started offering edgier looks, lit me up inside.
These magazines were inspiration. They helped me realize there was much more beyond my rough neighborhood and my frustrating, stifling, and close-minded hometown. Fashion was a window. To tiny Past Me, it represented so much more than $1,000 handbags.
Fast forward 15 years, and here I am debating with myself about whether any of this matters! I’m definitely more financially resourced, yet I'm still anxious about indulging my sartorial impulses. It is true that I can never be 100% certain that I’m not accepting a materialistic solution to mask some deeper issue lurking in the shadows my psyche. But, maybe I just want new shit? Maybe that’s totally okay?
One thing I am completely sure of is that self-expression is self care. Ultimately, I don’t feel that I’ve been expressing myself lately through my personal style; and yes, it matters to me. For anyone who has felt unaligned with their self-presentation, I hope this resonates.
Also, it might be fun to review a sampling of the new clothes and accouterments I wanna spend my still-insufficient funds on! Behold:
1. A fuzzy coat
2. A shiny pink bomber jacket
2. Some goofy-shaped shirts
3. backless slides
4. A new tattoo, probably of lady-queer icon Frida
5. New glasses
6. White or tan turtleneck/s
7. earrings in the shape of hands
8. Elegant Cocoon Outfits
9. UGLY CHUNKY SANDALs (to round out my Tomboy/Lazy femme vibe)
Or this entire situation:
HOW ABOUT Y'ALL? Having weird, conflicted feelings about fashion or shopping? Like my taste and wanna be my new friend? Leave a comment in the space below!