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.

Sport Sandals

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.

Pickup Trucks

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.

Trucker Hats

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.

Brimmed Hats

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.


Doc Martins

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.

Skate Shoes

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.

White A-Shirt

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.


Tina-cious.com said...

That last pic is HOT!!!!!


Anonymous said...

is there any way you can call it an A-Shirt (athletic shirt) instead of a wife-beater? i hope we can agree that the latter is a tad inappropriate.

Anonymous said...

Glad to know that wifebeaters are the thing to wear. Are they acceptable when worn in different colors, like gray and black? Or is white the only dyke color? Lol.

Styledyke said...

Anon #1: When I wrote the post, I figured no one would know what an a-shirt was. Then, as I read your comment, I realized that there was, in fact, a picture. Edited!

Gryph said...

Oookkkaaayy. I have never dressed in some of the styles shown or if I have I made them look much classer then in the article.

My partner loves to see me in sleeveless T's and I find them very comfortable as well.

lifes a beach said...

im definitely down with the cowboy hats...so sexy, haha great website self-deprecating humor from anyone is always welcome.

Quest said...

I was at a Melissa Etheridge concert recently, and I suspect that plaid walking (golfing) shorts, polo shirts, and sandals are the new uniform.:)

On alternate Tuesdays we have casual dress day, and can wear jeans and a T-Shirt.

Actually, it was lovely to see so many ladies in one place, and I marveled at the diversity. We are an interesting and wonderful community, each of us as different and unique as the snowflakes that fall in the winter.

Anonymous said...

Ah, fedoras. I've been wearing one for the past 11 hours or so. My skater shoes are rather dirty right now, but Doc Martins are right over there.
... Odd, how I got most of things BEFORE coming out, and more of them before ogling the lesbian community. I believe it may be subconscious, at this point.

Anonymous said...

Time for a wake up. Title Nine hinted at what could be, but dived into fashion "Ordinary"

Great concept in the begining, but didn't hold out for the "few" of us looking for fashion that fit and is attractive on our bodies.

Our bodies tend towards a varied sector. Maybe that's why it's so hard to incorporate other designer's wear into our wear.

The designer's have got great wear, but no concept of what the lesbians needs.

Yes, many lesbians can hit the pop sites and fit ever so nice, but I'm talking about me and my peeps. Where's the gorgeous, lesbian inspired look (comfort, manangeablility)which consumes our everyday life? Who will look into something so vital? Pick us up there and we'll keep looking for the more appropriate casual wear. Don't turn into a Title Nine. Turn into a space Lesbians can call home and go to a one stop shop.

Workable shoes for business, casual work, casual for fun and then the fun to strike out for a night. Most could be intertwined if the fit could be right.

Beyond shoes, let's get some clothing for the workforce we are in these days.

Anything from CEO/CFO/MD/PHD's/Executives/etc...

We all look for a very classic look to announce our individuality without going beyond our comfort zone.

So, let's create a line of clothing which accenuate the lines of our customers without making them so damn uncomfortable. I'm talking sleek - minimal sweat- adaptable for other needs. I'm talking about the true lesbian.

I think the revolution in "lesbian" wear, (fashioned nicely)will be the wear of the majority of women.

We all want comfort, style, fit and something that will work for a few years to come (or many if you hit some good designs and modesl)

We look through limited catalogues and stores, and often times leave less than satisfied.

Maybe your specialty site can finanlly be our one stop shop. Look into the 35-60 genre and cop a look and fit which suits them. I would have jump on that fashion if someone had a clue.

The "older market" may not fit your mission. If there are others, I shall approach them. It's a need. The "Gold Mine" are for you and your marketers to figure out.

Personally, I'd like a one stop shop for us ladies looking for comfort and style without giving up a very fashionable look.

Please think about it.

DC Shoes UK said...

Nice post ! such a lovely collection and skate shoes just awesome! usually i used vans and DC Shoes uk for skating i would like to try this one, thanks for sharing

AP said...

I've got into an argument with some older lesbian friends. I barely graduated from a very hipster-friendly college and there were two very distinctly lesbian styles that I never saw a straight girl wear: the k.d. lang style suit vest and tie, and yes the flannel shirts. That said, most of the gay chicks did not dress in either of those styles, and at least both of those fashions are friggin' hot.

Now a good number of gay *men* at my school went out of their way to appear as stereotypically queer as humanly possibly.

Anonymous said...

I admit to owning about ten flannel shirts.

...Am I being horribly stereotypical?

Sugar said...

Wow, great research! You forgot about jeans then: XXL, now: Skinny ))

Anonymous said...

I like Vans Or Punk rose shoes dark skinny jeans a white belt and a (weird/random pic) type shirt
with sorta short or medium length emo style hair

Anonymous said...

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