What Is Queer Style?

Anonymous asked: What would you say are some typical differences between queer and straight women fashion/style?

This seems to be the question on everyone’s mind since my review of What Not to Wear. I think the main critism for that post was that there *is* no difference, and I was stereotyping by saying otherwise.

But I do think that there is a such thing as queer style. (I’d hope so, I sure as hell spend enough time blogging about it!) As an oppressed minority, we have our own unique experiences and identities that affect our clothing choices. Which is not to say that there aren’t straight identified people with similar styles. And as all categories, they exist on a continuum, so it would be inaccurate and pigeonholing to try to pinpoint a “difference” in style. But I do think I can describe queer style in a way that includes a whole gamut of identities and experiences.

I’d say that at the crux of queer style is hyper awareness to society’s expectations around clothing for people of your assigned gender. When dressing femme, queers act to reclaim feminine clothing in a way that is not oppressive. Of course feminists across the board do this, but it seems to be especially popular among queers, who have a whole slew of other issues, like the prospect of passing as straight. I also generally see a lot of functionality happening in queer wardrobes, which I think stems from evaluation of the oppressive nature of non-functional clothing. So I’ll often see queers wearing comfortable shoes and carrying bags that will actually fit all of the things.

"I mean of course she’s gay! Have you SEEN her sandals?" — an anonymous friend of mine, speaking truth.

Elissa, rocking her comfy femme duds. (From this post)

A lot of queers, femme or otherwise, explore gender through clothing. I think this is just a natural response when A. your identity deviates from what society expects of your assigned gender, and B. you spend time in a community of people with a wide range of gender presentations. Bow ties, suspenders, vests, and collared shirts seem to be REALLY popular among queers. I think these pieces have become part of our culture, acting both as “markers” for queers who want to express their identity, and as fun items for masculine presenting queers or genderqueer cuties.

The bow tie gang looking adorbs. (From this post)

The queer community as a whole is also very interested in social justice, which naturally lands us in thrift stores and second-hand shops. I think this lends itself to a lot of cute vintage and retro styles floating around like big hipster glasses and 70’s brogues. And queers are really into trading clothes; whether they share clothes with their boos because they take the same size, or their friend is getting rid of their old clothes in exchange for ones that suit their gender identity, or they are trying on some of their dads’ old ties. “I got this dress from my ex-boyfriend” is a line I hear a lot. 

Quyen’s fully thrifted outfit. (From this post)

Queers also have a lot of traditions around hair. I’ve seen some long haired queers who like having a small part of their head closely shaven to give their look some edge. When queers cut their hair short, they often prefer a tighter look in back, as opposed to having the hair trickle past the hairline in a really feminine way. 

(source: fuckyeahqueercuts.tumblr.com)

So as I see it, there are many cultural and circumstantial things that make up queerfabulous style.

Thoughts? Comments? Reflections? Pictures of you in a bow tie?

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.