A friend of mine on the West Coast posted on my Facebook wall, "OK, I need fashion help. I need to go shopping for my fall [and now winter] wardrobe. Any suggestions?"
Pretty straightforward question except, going through her most recent Facebook photos, I couldn't really pinpoint her style. Definitely wasn't high femme. Definitely wasn't masculine. Not androgynous, not woodsman, not street goth, not dapper. Certainly not hipster, punk, or rock and roll. So, I asked her to describe her current style and she commented back, "Preppy relaxed, if that makes sense...with sporty mixed in." Additional guidelines were (a) she did not want to look too masculine, (b) she wanted clothing for the weekend, not for work, (c) no skirts or dresses, (d) nothing too flashy, and (e) she was willing to wear a heel from time to time (use sparingly). Based on these specifications, I created a Pinterest board with style inspiration for her.
I have to say that creating the Pinterest board was really frustrating as a QPOC. The majority of images that I found to best represent my friendís style were of thin, white bodies, which is similar to the current trend in androgynous fashion. When I entered the terms "sporty," "preppy," "collegiate," "J. Crew," and "Gap" on Pinterest, the search results were of faces and bodies that looked nothing like mine; rather, the images were very homogeneous. I took to Google, but found the same. The lack of brown and curvy bodies was astounding but not surprising, because our bodies are erased from existence in many ways. Take for example the book Take Ivy, a 1965 collection of photographs shot at Ivy League campuses across America. Take Ivy is often considered to be ìthe bible of Ivy League style, even though the book documents a primarily white experience; there was only one black student featured in the entire book. In 2010, Kissi and Gumbs responded to this inadequate representation with their wildly popular Black Ivy fashion editorial. In 2012, dapperQ responded to the lack of queer bodies in both Take Ivy and Black Ivy with our Queer Ivy feature.
Years later, we still have so much work to do. Luckily, we have blogs like Qwear to give us visibility. In the meantime, take a look at some of what I found for my friend (evolving Pinterest board here, keeping in mind the lack of diversity represented in this aesthetic: