lesbian fashion clichés i love

My first night of university, I decided to brave the raging storm of my social anxiety and go out to get a drink with a girl I’d just met (this was a good call, as she turned out to be one of the best friends I’ve ever had). At the time, I was still tentatively ID-ing as ‘probably at least a little bit bisexual?’. She, on the other hand, was a few months into her first lesbian relationship, and after a lifetime of thinking she was straight, was vastly overcompensating for those years of mistaken heterosexuality by being as aggressively gay as possible.

After a few drinks, she looked me over and asked suspiciously, “Are you sure you’re not a full-on lesbian?” And fair enough, I am quite a lot queerer than I admitted at the time. Her reason for asking, however, was not some kind of super advanced future-seeing gaydar, but because I was wearing a plaid shirt. According to her, this (and a number of other things about my appearance) were big rainbow patterned clues.

I found the whole discussion funny, and it still makes me smile to think about it. Especially as we’re moving into autumn, and I’m looking forward to throwing on a flannel shirt over everything and living and dying in my trusty old pair of boots. ‘Lesbian fashion stereotypes’ are the kind that I don’t think are actively harmful*, so I thought I’d round up a few of the ones I’m most guilty of.

  • Plaid shirts

The classic. And this stereotype kind of fits, in my experience. I don’t want to speculate on how many I own and regularly wear. Open over a vest, or buttoned all the way up, or tied around the waist, they’re pretty much a staple for me. I’m not even sorry.

  • Boots

Combat boots. Black boots with heels. Just some kind of chunky boot, is the thing. I guess this is supposed to be masculine in some way and that’s how society sees queer women? Who knows?

  • Short hair

Three for three so far. I recently got all my hair cut off and it’s the most freeing feeling. It takes like two minutes to wash! The only downside is that I look kind of like a boy, so I’m playing into all kinds of butch expectations these days, but so what?

  • Shorter fingernails

This one is probably more common sense than a fashion statement. Enough said.

There’s probably a bunch of others I’m missing. Bright red lipstick for when I’m feeling femme. No make up at all for when I’m feeling butch (or lazy). I’ve seen it becoming kind of a tumblr trend to grow out your body hair and dye it bright colours. I’m kind of tempted by blue armpits. Is that weird?

But anyway, lgbtqia+ ladies, what are your top queer fashion stereotypes, and have you found that you play into them?

* Although these ‘fashion clichés’ aren’t harmful in and of themselves, they are, of course, part of the bigger picture and can be seen as representative of the toxic policing of queer and female bodies. It’s messed up, but is also a bigger issue than I felt able to tackle in my attempt at a fluffy fashion piece.

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Poppy is a queer person from Britain. She currently studies English at university and likes to talk at length about literary theory, sexuality and gender, body positivity, mental health, and her cats. She’s no fun at parties.