Lesbian Fashion: Then and Now
Let's face it - lesbians haven't always been the best dressers.
I think we're all painfully aware of the flannel-and-hairy-legs image that persists in our culture even to this day. Well, luckily we've since learned how to dress ourselves without looking like we just went on a drunken shopping spree at Salvation Army.
This new generation of well-dressed dykes has created their own fashion styles, sometimes even leading the rest of the world in trends.
I've chosen some of the good old lesbian stereotypes and the new ones that they're being replaced with.
As you can see, we've learned our lesson. But take this away from this article, too. Some things are good only in moderation. I love a girl in a tight white tank top, but it's a little sad when the entire room is filled with girls in wifebeaters with huge belt buckles and shaved heads. Variety, as they say, is the spice of life.
Maybe Birks are a general feminist thing, or even just a hippie thing, but I think they're pretty well associated with lesbians, especially the kind of lesbian that goes to womyns' festivals and choses not to shave her legs. Or at least they were 10 and 20 years ago. I haven't actually seen a pair of your stereotypical two-strap Birk sandals for ages, except on people over the age of 50. I hear they're terribly comfortable, but I'm personally saying good riddance to Birkenstocks.
Nowadays, sporty trendy lesbians tend towards the sport sandals.
First there were Tevas. These are still popular, but the trend is headed towards Keens. I personally own a pair of Chacos, which are amazingly awesome. What is it about sporty sandals? Well, I figure that it's an extension of of the function over form trend in lesbian fashion – luckily for us, the sandals just happen to be stylish, at least in some cases.
In other cases, these functional, comfortable sandals are hideously ugly.
The mullet is the bottom of the barrel of the lesbian stereotype. Why did we do it? I don't know, and I really can't bring myself to find out, because that would mean thinking about mullets. I know everything that was popular at one point in the past is making the rounds again, but I pray that this unfortunate mistake will never again be repeated.
The fauxhawk seems to be the stylish younger sibling of the mullet. The motto of the mullet, of course, is "business in the front, party in the back." The fauxhawk is a different sort of party. More of a punk-styled party. But it aims to be workplace appropriate too. There are plenty more hairstyles on the verge of becoming cliché in the lesbian community, but that's a story for another article.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that lesbians don't drive pickups. They certainly do, and well they should.
Pickups are both hot and functional. I think, though, that the dyke-truck stereotype is going out with the lesbo lumberjack image.
Subarus are the new black, at least when it comes to lesbians and cars.
They're sporty and durable and have room for two dykes, some kids, and a dog, and everyone has them. They've even been rated as the #1 (Outback) and #2 (Forester) lesbian cars by a certain NPR show about automobiles. In recent years, gays and lesbians have become more focused on families. We've been working toward adoption and marriage rights, and we've finally been having some luck! As our image shifts towards family, so do our cars.
A few years ago, trucker hats were the big thing in lesbian headware. In fact, one could even make the argument that we started the larger trucker hat trend. These are especially popular for those lesbians who enjoy dressing like 13 year old boys and in turn make me check every 13 year old boy I see just to make sure he's not a cute girl.
Be it bowler, fedora, or cowboy, the classic hats of yesteryear are making a comeback on the streets and in the clubs. It takes a serious woman to pull off a serious hat, and that's where we come in. I think this is another extension of our fashion-based gender play. Just as lumberjack shirts and trucker hats were originally associated with male-dominated professions, the cowboy hat and the fedora are traditionally very male. At least until we get our hands on 'em.
Other than hippie sandals, Docs and similar combat boots are our traditional footwear. They're excellent for stomping around and kicking people and other fun activities. Turns out, that the punks did it first, and these days they're mainly confined to the teenage rebellious sort.
It's been a while since I've met a dyke who didn't own a pair of skate shoes. I've certainly owned a few pairs in my time. I also see them a lot – although sometimes it's hard to tell the 14 year old boys from the skaterdykes. And they do come in all sorts of lovely, fun colors.
Finally, the paradigm of lesbian fashion stereotypes.
Thank god this specific trend has mostly died out.
Unfortunately, it still persists in the mind of many a straight man and woman, and even inside our own community. Flannel has its place. Mostly in sheets for the winter, but it's also a perfectly acceptable fashion statement while fixing fences, cutting down trees with whip saws, or playing in a grunge band. I know it's back, or it was back, or something.
But please, let's not go there again.
They've been big for a decade, and they still are. Weather worn alone or with a button-down or blazer, these are a staple of any lesbian's wardrobe. When I was in high school, I could show up to a lesbian club night and almost literally every girl in the entire room would be wearing a white tank – usually with a rainbow belt. Nowadays, this number has maybe been cut in half, but the trend is alive and kicking, and on its way to being a stereotype on par with the red and black checked flannel shirt.