No Thanks, What Not to Wear

"What Not to Wear" is a makeover reality show in New York City in which a cast of stylists save fashion disasters from themselves by trashing their old wardrobe and buying them a new one.

Today my friends and I stumbled upon an episode about a queer named Jill who dresses like an anxty teenage misfit (Season 8, Episode 24). When I first met fashion consultants Stacy London and Clinton Kelly I found myself thinking: what does a straight woman and a gay man know about lesbian style? Well, I got my answer: Nothing. (In case you want to watch what I’m about to tear to shreds, you can see it here on youtube.)

I think the first big misconception is that if a man is gay he must have some authority over lesbian culture. Nope. The way Clinton was acting, you’d think he’d never met a lesbian.

And when I say lesbian culture, I mean simplicity. Vintage dresses. Dapper blazers. Socially responsible brands. Suspenders. Retro glasses. Button-ups. Assymetrical haircuts. Clothes from the men’s department. NOT over-priced handbags, snakeskin belts, and pumps.

Stacey and Clinton wanted to find some more appropriate work clothing for Jill, who confessed that she had never felt comfortable in a dress. “In all honesty, I feel like I am in drag,” she said.

Our faithful stylists suggested several outfits, all of which were femme. Not just femme, but straight femme. Gold buckles and overwhelming patterns that only well-to-do straight women would dare wear in daylight. I mean… a Coach purse??? At least I think it’s Coach, and it looks an awful lot like this purse, which costs $800. I think I’ll take it to Zuzu’s!

And whyyyyy are they making her wear high heals? Because apparently that’s the grown-up thing to do. “Does it come with complimentary walking instructions?” was Jill’s response to the torment.

For evening wear they presented to her a “lady with an edge” dress. If she felt like she was in drag before, the sequens in that outfit are going to make her feel like she’s right on RuPaul’s catwalk. She said she didn’t like it, requested a shirt with pants, and they groaned. Oh, you poor, poor clueless queer. 

After a few days of shopping, Jill concluded, “It was frustrating because a lot of the  things that I tried on just didn’t feel right. I wasn’t actually able to find things that I could wear… and still feel comfortable in my own identity.” That’s funny, that’s how I used to feel. Before I discovered the men’s department.

Stacey commented, “I feel like we’re not speaking her language.” 

The language is Queer, hon. 

They proceeded to squeeze her into a dress suit with a ruffled shirt. She said, “It’s way too feminine for me,” to which Clinton replied, “Sometimes going in a really feminine direction makes the statement that you’re not really super feminine.” This just sounds to me like an attempt to cover up the fact that he’s not equipped to dress someone who’s presentation lies outside gender binary.

"I’m very androgynous; I’m kind of in the middle," she asserted.

"If you just do that middle ground because it’s safe, then it’s boring as hell," Clinton proclaimed. Yup, that’s right! He just called androgynous clothes "boring as hell." So I guess that means that this, this, this, and this are all out.

I was really looking forward to the haircut portion of the show because I thought it might help give Jill the dykey edge she was looking for. From the start I could tell that she was itching to get her ponytail chopped off. But when I saw the results I wanted to cry:

She looks even more feminine than before. The hair stylist gave her the bobbiest straighty-pants bob I’ve ever seen. Lord have mercy. She’s such a beautiful queer. So why is she wasting it on such a straight haircut?

I think we’ve learned a few lessons today:

1. Makeover reality shows are of no use to us, and we should instead drool over the cuties on our queer blogs.

2. Gay men have no innate authority on lesbian style.

3. If you feel like you’re wearing drag every time you’re in a dress, you should try on another one. I mean… what?

As Qwear's Founding Editor, Sonny’s work centers around envisioning a future in which the clothing people wear does not dictate their chances of survival. Sonny was awarded 2015 dapperQ of the Year and was the first trans blogger to be sponsored by Topman. In March 2016, Sonny spoke at South by South West's first official queer fashion panel.