So this blog is about queering fashion, everyone featured on it is [in some fashion] queer, and it is a nice showcase of what some queer people are wearing and how we are coding ourselves, subverting norms, and expressing personal and cultural aspects of self. We are sharing our styles but in our style we have personal experience, history, theory. It is about how we could blend in (and have for safety) but choose to stand out, how we understand the function of clothes from utilitarian to symbolic, and even how and why we have the clothes we do. Because fashion, at least in the way this blog tries to exhibit it is an extension of self, or not. It is a representation of us, or what we want to be, or a disguise. It is embedded with our culture, our politics, our beliefs, ourselves. And much like ourselves it is fluid.
Since this blog is about queering fashion, I want to explore some themes on how to queer fashion, and the complexities and nuances that come with this notion. I want to question what is queer fashion, and why, and I want to explore:
1) Subversion & Genderfucking
2) Thrift Shop Culture
3) Fashion & Race
1) In thinking about these themes subversion is a key aspect to all of them. First with genderfucking, cross-dressing, and drag we can explore gender and fashion. Why are women’s clothes made without pockets or utility functions? An issue I have noticed as I own almost exclusively “women’s” pants, and have had far too many “women’s” jackets with fake pockets, flaps that are nothing but lies. A capitalist means of selling purses and handbags, which are great and all if you choose to wear them, but not if it’s your only option because of the lack of utility in women’s clothing. These trends, detailed here, are based off of sexist and antiquated gender roles that assume women don’t need to carry things and easily access them while men deserve deep pockets that can adequately fit a phone, keys, wallet, ipod, and lipstick/chapstick, whatever. This is an issue that friends and I have come to call, the pantriarchy.
Due to and despite these annoying and sexists differences, many people enjoy genderfucking, drag, and cross-dressing. But first what even is cross dressing. A male bodied person wearing women’s clothing (or vice versa)? But what is women’s clothing, why is clothing gendered? Is cross dressing subversive? What if I don’t think of it as cross dressing? What if I’m genderqueer, can I ever cross dress? And what about drag, is it an offensive parody or a subversive political statement? You see these issues are complex, and while I have talked to a lot of people, friends, professors, fellow queers, cross-dressers, drag queens, genderqueers, genderfuckers, and trans folks there are no easy answers.
But this is what I think, you should dress how you feel comfortable and you should explore fashion that interests you but you don’t feel comfortable with in small and safe ways to grow your comfort. Realize that no matter what you intend to convey people will read it from their perspective without ever necessarily understanding what you were going for. Talk about what you’re wearing, how you feel it is subversive, what inspired it, and what you are going for and be open to a critical response. You may be wearing something you think is really awesome, and someone may read it as problematic. For example if someone feels that you are appropriating the style of their culture, they aren’t wrong and you should really consider this, think about why you are wearing things and how they are reading it. When it comes to cultural appropriation this chart is a really helpful way to begin to explore if you may be appropriating another culture. Finally when it comes to drag it can definitely be an offensive parody, but it can also be an amazing political statement about the constructedness of gender, of how a male or female body is no better suited for masculine or feminine clothing.
2) Beyond genderfucking, how can we queer and subvert fashion? Well one way is to not buy clothes made in sweatshops, but this is a challenging and expensive endeavor, especially if you still have specific style goals. One way many people find a way around directly supporting sweatshop labor is by buying clothes second hand, subverting the capitalist idea of fast fashion, where clothes are made cheap and thin so they can be worn for a season and then discarded to make room for the next seasons fast fashion. And with the current economic downturn, and the popularity of cultural messages like Macklemore’s "Thrift Shop", we have seen the rise of Thrift Shop culture, where it is fashionable to buy second hand clothes. One concern that some of my astute queer friends have had is the creation of clothing deserts, similar to food deserts, as many poor families and individuals have no other option but thrift stores, and they suffer with this trend as more affluent people can travel greater distances, have more time to devote searching for specific clothes, and can ultimately leave a thrift store with few quality items for those that must depend on them.
So what is the answer? I mean I love thrifting too, but I want to be cognizant of how this is a privilege and how my actions may be hurting others. While it is fine to go to thrift stores and buy clothes, it can also be important to support thrift stores by donating old clothes. My point here is to think of it as a community and an economy where you do not directly benefit from the exploitation of others, because after all that is one reason to be anti-capitalist and shop at thrift stores in the first place. Again, I do not have all the answers and would love to generate a dialogue or hear how other people approach this!
3) Finally, there is the issue of fashion & race, and by that I mean a racist and discriminatory fashion industry. Last month the New York Times, featured this article about how the vast majority of models in major fashion shows are white, despite many critiques and complaints. Ultimately it seems that, like most issues, we need resistance at every level. From designers and agencies to consumers and fashion bloggers, we must demand a more diverse and non-discriminatory fashion world. We must not keep accepting these trends that tell women of color, plus sized women, and anyone outside of normative beauty standards that they are ugly and worthless. We must keep queering fashion, we must accept difference and unlearn the consistently repeated message that only thin white people are attractive!
If you would like to discuss these or any other issues feel free to reblog or write to this blogs ask. If you also have a sense of queer and subversive fashion, please feel more than welcome to submit pictures, all styles, sizes, colors, genders, and people will be happily accepted!