Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. True, everyone’s got their ideal definition of what constitutes beautiful. (Not to mention, hot, sexy, and plain drop-dead gorgeous.) In the queer world, I’ve found variations spanning a wide spectrum, not unlike my straight counterparts. We girls who like girls just have a different set of categories: butch to soft-butch
to femme to lipstick to androgynous to hipster dyke to granola to tomboy and everything in between. (Supplementary glossary, anyone?) It’s partly what makes queer women so fascinating—there’s no one way to express yourself, including how you choose to dress.
As I sit here in my New York apartment—a city that is arguably an epicenter of fashion—I’m wearing plain blue jeans and a fitted black sweater. Nothing fancy, nothing out of the ordinary. I’ve also got pierced ears and I’m wearing rings and a silver watch. To the casual observer, I’m just another chick with not terribly interesting fashion sense. But allow me to open my closet (and by extension, all queer women’s) to you. (And yes please go ahead and laugh at that ridiculously obvious pun—it’s too easy.)
Recently, a male friend and I have been sharing debates concerning the physical attributes of women—in other words, what makes a woman sexy. While we may argue over low-cut blouses versus button-down shirts (the latter being a favorite of mine), we can agree is that each woman’s style is as unique as the woman herself—which leads me to the fashion sense that gets my eyes wandering and my heart racing.I’ve got everything from a pinstripe suit to a very revealing little black dress in there—almost as many pieces of clothing as I have moods. On one day, I’ll wear Doc Martens and an army jacket I’ve had since I was fourteen. The next, purple tights and a crazy patchwork skirt. I see many shades of gray in the black and white of what constitutes so-called female beauty, partially because I’m gay. The point is it’s all awesome.
Androgyny: Behold, Ambiguity
I know some straight women out there are a bit puzzled by the term, “androgynous”—not only what constitutes androgynous-looking but what exactly the appeal is. Allow me to be your guide. These are some of the most beautiful women on the planet. It’s taken me years to articulate my gravitation toward the ambiguous, but now I know it’s the blending of genders, appearances, and even ideas that make androgyny, and therefore the clothing associated with it, sexy.
To clarify, androgynous fashion, at least to me, is not simply a pretty girl wearing a man’s suit. She’s got to own the clothes. They’ve got to fit her perfectly—and not just in terms of size, but in terms of expression.
Take, for example, Jenny Shimizu. You may not recognize her name, but you’ll surely remember her from the infamous Calvin Klein CK One ads back in the mid-90s. I would venture that Shimizu was one of the first mainstream models to make androgyny, well, fashionable. Just think back to the cyclical nature of the ad, “we’re all one” and “a fragrance for a man or a woman.” The blurring of gender and sexual lines was what got everyone to sit up and take notice. Since then, it’s become more commonplace to see women in clothing that is not traditionally thought of as “feminine”—and not just on the runway or on a magazine cover.
I see it nearly every day on the streets of this colorful city. There’s a swagger to androgynous fashion. A boldness. A confidence, bordering on near-cockiness. (Most times, stepping quietly back over that edge.) A “I can carry my bag, drink a coffee, and still have the best upturned collar and sweep of hair across the face you’ve ever freaking seen” smile. A shimmering bow-tie paired with lace-up leather boots. It’s a dare. It’s a risk. It’s a cleverness to combine elements that most people would never imagine combining.
To be sure, not every woman can pull this look off. Like I’ve said, it’s not just about the clothes, it’s about the attitude. And after all, whether you’re gay or straight, isn’t that the ultimate turn-on?