Category Archives: Style

This is the Meaning of Fierce Fashion

RickOwensI feel a little embarrassed to admit that I follow fashion as closely as I follow science, checking in on The Sartorialist every morning, and subscribing to Vogue most of my adult life. However, it’s all eye candy for me. I don’t spend four figures on clothes and won’t wear high heels. Mostly, I am a voyeur. A fashion troll, as it were.

I can’t remember in all these years when I’ve seen a photo or video of a female model walking down a runway with her feet more than four inches apart. The models are gazelles, wraiths, seemingly unhuman creatures who have no more similarity to me than a mitochondria does to a chloroplast. I am clearly one kind of woman and they are another.

Then came Rick Owens’ Spring 2014 show which knocked Paris on its well-designed derriere. Instead of showing his austere, minimalist clothes on chignon-coiffed austere, minimalist models, the designer recruited step teams from American Black sororities to walk his runway. Suddenly the clothes look wearable, moveable, and do-able. Watch it through and dance out with them at the end. (And don’t miss Bill Cunningham’s smile at about 6:15). This is how women should be represented. Being female shouldn’t look pale, wane, tortured; it should look fierce.

Just for contrast, there’s this:

In Search of the Elusive Butch Bra

photoIt’s been a fashionable week on LesbianAppropriate. My post on Menswear Tailored for Female Bodies led a lot of you back to my 2011 post, Femme Eye for the Butch Gui. (As of today, I’ve updated the fashion links in the post, too!)

In that post, I said my numero uno fashion tip for butches was to support your chest. Bra shopping isn’t comfortable for anyone, and a good fit is the most important thing, not whether you can pull it over your head.

(Believe me, I can sympathize. I’m suffering from the discontinuation of a certain femme and lacy Wacoal number that I bought in triplicate.)

Check out this awesome DapperQ video, The Bra Whisperer, in which Susan Herr, DapperQ’s Transgressor in Chief, throws herself under the brassiere bus for the sake of butches everywhere.

Her best line, in response to a black lace bra: “It’s all lace and flowers. My wife will have a fit.”

Menswear Tailored for Female Bodies

photoThis isn’t your mama’s winsome Annie Hall vest and tie. A growing number of designers and clothing retailers are finding a niche in haberdashery – for butch women and androgynous and genderqueer folk, among others.

While many masculine-dressing women have found satisfaction in the men’s department at Nordstrom, many more haven’t been as lucky. Today’s story in The New York Times rounds up a group of resources.

Also check out Femme Eye for the Butch Gui, my post with butch fashion tips.


Oh, my. Have you met Casey?

French-born New York artist Casey Legler is breaking gender boundaries as the first female model on Ford Models’ male roster. The 6′ 2″, lanky Legler, a former Olympic swimmer, broke into modeling this summer after her friend, fashion photographer Cass Bird invited her to participate in a photo shoot for Muse magazine – as a man. The Ford Models agency saw the photographs and the next day, Legler was contracted to work exclusively in the agency’s stable of male models.

Her novel signing is bringing international attention, including an interview with Time magazine. (Be sure and click through to watch Time‘s video interview. I dare you – butch or femme – not to fall in love a little!)

Following in the well-shod footsteps of gender-bending models such as Andrej Pejic, Legler is adding a new twist to fashion layouts – one that is sure to leave femme hearts fluttering.


So sweet and funny… this by The Blake Wright who I think of as the Dan Savage of cartooning:

A New Kind of Striptease

This is sexy, fun, and mesmerizing. Rick Genest, the tattooed model known as “Rico the Zombie” (aka “Zombie Boy”) becomes a pitch man for concealer.

The Closeted Butch and Femme (shoes, that is)

Speaking of Ellen, she and wife, Portia de Rossi DeGeneres, have one heck of a hers-and-hers shoe closet featured in this month’s Architectural Digest.

It’s rumored that the house is currently for sale, but the marriage is fine.

See if you can guess which side of the closet belongs to whom.

Ellen and Keith Sell Cologne, Sort Of…

Tired of over-blown commercials for over-blown scents, Ellen DeGeneres and Keith Urban made their own send-up:

Brief, Specific, and Sincere

I survived a femme crisis this weekend with a little help from my friends.

My love and I live a distance apart. Think counties, not states. We’re close enough to see each other several days a week, but far enough apart that we can’t run home to pick something up on a whim.

So Friday I showed up at her place toting all my usual stuff: My computer (duh!), my weekend bag, and a bag of shoes and boots.

What I forgot were my clothes, which I had very carefully hung near the door. I was facing down a busy Pride weekend with only the things I had stuffed in my bag – lovely red lingerie, a vintage black slip, stockings and garters, a tank top, and a cardigan – or had on my back. I had no dress, no skirt, no fetching tops.

To make matters worse, I had stopped for a hair appointment on my way to the Bay Area, and I was dressed in the most daytime basic – a t-shirt, ripped vintage Levis, red ballet flats, and my black leather motorcycle jacket.

When I arrived at my sweetheart’s, we had less than two hours to jump on BART and sign in for our volunteer shifts at a certain women’s party at a certain private location. Yikes.

Since my t-shirt was black and white striped, my girlfriend joked that we could add a beanie and red scarf and I could be Waldo for Pride weekend. Funny and not funny.

I finally cobbled together an outfit that was a little tougher than my usual evening wear, and definitely not what I had planned for our weekend kick-off – fishnet stockings under my torn jeans, my red bra under one of my butch sweetheart’s white ribbed under-tanks, and my jacket. (I was so happy I had a fresh haircut and pedicure and had not forgotten my makeup. These things go a long way toward making me feel pulled together every day.)

I was feeling awkward and I know exactly why. Lately, I’ve been suffering from a little femme invisibility. My professional life has necessitated growing my hair out a few inches. In my daily life, I feel like I just don’t look as queer. Plus, I’ve somehow become une lesbienne d’un certain age* (which sounds SO much nicer than “middle-aged dyke”).  Because of these factors, I look forward to queer events, where I feel much more attractive than I do in the world at large.

(Side note: I’m probably not alone in this. I suspect there are lots of queer women who, like me, felt uncomfortable, unattractive, and misplaced until they came out and found their place in the community of women.)

I wanted to look pretty and witty and gay, damn it.

But really, this isn’t an essay about my fashion travails. It’s about compliments and how thoughtful people can really make your day.

During my volunteer shift at the party, I was sitting at my station on a stool by the door, greeting people as they came in. A woman took a moment as she passed by to tell me that she thought my outfit was “perfect”. She said (something like), “you’ve hit just the right balance of sexiness there”. Awww. I felt better already.

But later that night, a young woman** rocked my weekend. My sweetheart and I were sitting on a couch, getting ready to face the cold winds on the way to BART. She approached us and said to me, “I just wanted to tell you that I think you’re really beautiful.” She delivered this in a way that was completely un-ironic. I said “thank you” and told her she was very sweet, but I was really too stunned to formulate a proper thanks.

The next day, when the three of us ran into each other again at the Dykes on Bikes party at El Rio, I explained about my missing clothes and how funky I had been feeling, and how she made my night. We introduced ourselves and ran into each other one more time, at the Dyke March, before the weekend was over.

I know I’m supposed to be able to move through the world without needing the feedback of other people to feel secure, happy, and attractive, but I’m not always completely at peace with myself. A heartfelt compliment is a mood-booster.

In my days as a department manager, I was told that any effective compliment should be brief, specific, and sincere. And I think that’s true in our non-work life, too. For most people, it feels uncomfortable to be gushed over, when a simple “that haircut is great on you,” sounds so real. Statements like “you rock,” “you go, girl,” and “you’re hot,” feel as ubiquitous as “wassup?”.

So when someone takes the time to approach and say something meaningful and nice, it’s special.

The best part of this sort of exchange is that it inevitably pays forward. On Saturday, we passed a young woman sitting on a curb in Dolores Park. She was wearing a long, vividly printed halter dress that looked absolutely amazing against her dark skin.

I stopped right there and told her so.

*une lesbienne d’un certain age: Probably too old to be a MILF, old enough to hunt younger cougars, and not old enough to star in granny porn.

** A special hug to Vanessa in case she reads this.

Be Still, My Appreciative Heart

Blending gender

Deyn circa 2008

The first time I really sat up and took notice of edgy, sometimes androgynous appearing, model Agyness Deyn was in a menswear-inspired phoot spread in W Magazine.

I think it was about 2008, and the blatant butchness of the photos just knocked me out. They weren’t the glamorous “le smoking” looks we’ve been conditioned to think of as menswear for women, nor were they playful, like Annie Hall. Deyn brought a seriously masculine energy to the photos, and although that well-thumbed issue of the magazine is long gone, I still have the memory of it. (Sigh.)

Then today, I stumbled across a new photo shoot by James Franco. His photography debut for Elle — a biker-flavored editorial called “Chateau Dreams,” he says was inspired by actor James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause. The pictorial features Agyness Deyn roaming Los Angeles, along with models Natalia Bonifacci and Imogen Poots in similar gender-bending aesthetic — ties, men’s shirts, and leather jackets. The shoot is part of Franco’s contemporary art project which debuts this Summer at the Venice Biennale, and you can see all of the photos now on

From the new shoot:

Why Marriage?

Whenever the topic of same-sex marriage arises, there inevitably has to be an explanation of why domestic partnership agreements and their cousins aren’t marriage. Even with a civil union, it can take time, lawyers, and money for a couple to duplicate the rights granted by traditional marriage.

In support of Pride month, the employees of LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics offer this explanation.

Now that you’ve finished watching, go take a hot bath with a Butterball Bath Bomb and plan your dream wedding!

It’s Not Nice to Tease the Gays, Old Navy

Earlier this week, LGBT bloggers and the Twitterati erupted in “huzzahs” at the announcement Old Navy would carry Pride t-shirts in its stores and on the company’s website*, beginning June 1. Furthermore, it was announced, 10 percent of the sales would be donated to the It Gets Better Project. The project is near and dear to the hearts of many of us lesbihomogays, especially those that grew up outside of gay Meccas where gay visibility is almost non-existent and there’s little support or acceptance for queer teens.

But June 1 came and went, with nary a shirt to be seen on the website.

It turns out Old Navy is limiting the distribution of these shirts to those same gay Meccas where they are sure-fire sellers and where their display won’t roil the retail waters for the heartland-targeted chain. The shirts are being carried in just 26 of the companies 1,030-plus stores.

I think it’s really sad that the parts of the country most in need of queer visibility won’t be able to easily access these shirts.

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Old Navy Styles Pride

More update: The shirts can be ordered by phone and shipped. See the list of stores selling the shirts here.

Update: Apparently Old Navy doesn’t intend to sell these shirts on the company’s website, but rather only in selected stores. I’ve written to the company’s customer service department to request a list of stores with the shirts, but I haven’t received it yet. I’ll update when I do. Meanwhile, you can email Old Navy,, or contact the retailer by Twitter, @OldNavy, and let them know this is a great idea, but only if the shirts are accessible to Pride supporters everywhere. After all, the point of the It Gets Better Project is to make sure that support is visible to teens in every nook and cranny of the country, right?

Mega-retailer Old Navy is lending its support to the It Gets Better Project in the form of Pride t-shirts.

The shirts go on sale Wednesday, June 1 and will be available in sizes for men, women, and babies.

Old Navy has a long history of selling over-the-top patriotic get-ups for the Fourth of July. The retailer’s LGBT and homogay-supportive customers will find these a colorful and welcome switch-up.

Ten percent of the sale of each shirt will be donated to the It Gets Better Project, founded by Dan Savage and his husband, Terry Miller. The project aims to help aims to help disenfranchised gay kids get through their difficult teenage years by by presenting positive images, and the stories, of queer adults.

Want to show your support? Visit Old Navy’s website Wednesday and order a t-shirt. Or, make a donation directly to the It Gets Better Project through the organization’s website. (While you’re there, check out the video contribution by LGBT employees of The Gap, Old Navy’s parent company.)

Keira Knightley, The Badass

This new commercial for Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle features actress Keira Knightley as a motorcycle-riding bad girl. Yes, it’s hetero-centric (or then again, maybe not?), but it’s sexy and fun, nonetheless. Hang in there for the ending. The music is Joss Stone doing a live cover of James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s World”.

Scent of a Femme

After writing about actress Kate Walsh’s new scent “Boyfriend,” billed as “a women’s fragrance tinged with the scent of a man,” I had to check it out for myself. I dabbed a little on my wrist in the local Sephora, and I’m here to tell you this fragrance only smells like a boyfriend if he was freshly scrubbed, taking supplemental estrogen, and coated in vanilla bath oil. There’s not a darn thing butch about “Boyfriend”.

I should know. I’ve worn both men’s fragrances and women’s fragrances over the years. I know my own fragrance preferences pretty well, gravitating toward scents with a little darkness – leather, spice, pepper, and musk. I like a drop of vanilla to smooth things out, and while I like fruit scents, I steer away from anything powdery or overtly floral. Roses and lilies make me sneeze, in vases and in bottles. And, what perfumers like to call “white flowers” – narcissus, jasmine, etc. – often smell like cat pee to me, and give me screaming headaches.

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Andro Fragrance Ad Revamped

Moss in Harper's Bazaar, looking back on 20 years of modeling

When Calvin Klein launched his now-iconic androgynous fragrance, CK One, in 1995, the black and white advertising campaign received lots of press. Media comments focused on the downtown “grunge aesthetic” of the commercials, and the intentional visual blending of genders, making it hard to tell the boys from the girls. Up until then, most fragrance advertising was exactly the opposite – attracting buyers with images that were either overtly feminine or overtly masculine, and reeking of an upscale life.

Calvin Klein is relaunching CK One this spring. The new advertising campaign is an homage to the original, featuring androgynous models, a 1990s soundtrack, and a club-scene feel.

The only thing missing is Kate Moss*. Having her deliver the closing line of the commercial would have been the very best knowing nod to the past. After all, viewers like ironic redundancy; it makes them feel like they’re on the inside. (Remember when Bob Newhart woke up in bed with Suzanne Pleshette at the end of the second Bob Newhart Show?) And, Ms. Moss is still hot.

The new commercial:

One of the originals:

*NOTE: Oh my goddess, how could I have forgotten about the cut with Jenny Shimizu! I’m a traitor to my people. Talk about hot…

In Praise of Gap-Toothed Women

I’ve always been a fan of model and actress Lauren Hutton. With her rangy limbs and androgynous sense of style, she personifies a classic type of American woman. She has always looked as good in street photos wearing sneakers and khakis as she did in American Gigolo and on countless magazine covers. And, oh, that gap in her front teeth! It makes her look a little awkward, imperfect, geeky, and real. Sigh.

Apparently I’m not alone in my passions. In 1987, director Les Blank and friends made a documentary in praise of women with that distinctive gap. The trailer:

Bieber Nods to Lesbians Who Look Like Bieber

In a funny art-imitates-life-imitates-art moment, Justin Bieber gave a little shout-out to the Lesbians Who Look Like Justin Bieber blog (proof that there’s room for everything on the internets!). On the recent episode of Chelsea Lately, host Chelsea Handler prodded Bieber about lesbians’ affection for him, and he responded by acknowledging the blog. (Wait for it, it’s at about 3:35, and the interview isn’t as painful as you might think.)

This was the only interview I’ve ever seen with Justin Bieber and he came across as sort of a sweet kid, playing the straight man to Handler’s goofiness.

But, now I have to go apologize to my 14-year-old son for posting this.

Butch Hair Inspiration at the Grammys?

Clicking through some of the photos from the Grammys, it seems that well-groomed metrosexual hair ruled the night. It’s hard to find good inspiration for fashion-forward butch hair styles, but Bruno Mars delivers in high style. (Sigh. If only he was a girl.)

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Adam Lambert took it beyond the pale to a look that may have been, well, more femme than butch.


Finally: A Smooth-Fronted Shirt

I don’t know why someone hasn’t thought of this before: a shirt that promises not to gap, gape, or reveal what you do or don’t have on under it.  Extra hidden buttons – what the inventor calls “dual button technology” – in the double placket of The Shirt promise a smooth front.

Best of all, that smoothness comes without darts or front seaming, and with tails long enough to tuck, so you won’t look like Jennifer Aniston in a mid-90s episode of Friends.

In fact, if you can look beyond the femme-y model and accessories in The Classic Shirt’s advertising photo, it looks like this is a pretty darn androgynous shirt. So if you’re more concerned with a smooth front than what side your buttons are on, this might be a good work option for butches as well as femmes. The Classic Shirt is a slim cut (think European men’s) in crisp stretch cotton. It comes in five colors: white, red, dark gray, black, and navy blue.

At $88, this isn’t the cheapest option out there, but if it works, it would be worth every cent.