Come out, come out, wherever you are

What’s in a stereotype? A short-sleeved plaid shirt? A little quiff? Perhaps a leather bracelet, a lip piercing, or a checkerboard belt? In a recent article by The New York Post it would seem the markers of lesbianism are actually much more ubiquitous than that, with trousers, blazers and jeans the new symbols of those hankering for a lady-loving way of life. Finally! Straight women are unbuckling their hoop skirts, bustles, and punishing girdles in favour of vests, suits, and shorts – the last great taboo, apparently. 

According to the publication, the “rise” of this “new” “trend” signals the acceptance of gay women within wider culture. “Queer fashion is totally in,” the writer, whose byline has now been removed, announced in the opening line. “Straight-identifying women are swapping out their six-inch heels and rib-crushing corsets for Dr Martens boots and knitted sweater vests.” Oh yes, that LESBIAN urge to wear shoes. The sapphic compulsion to put on a pair of trousers and cycle off to a woodwork class. Straight women – who have, up until now, been condemned to dressing like they were toilet roll dolls – can henceforth ride a horse with both legs over the saddle and buy jumpers without the weight of the hetero-patriarchy weighing down on their tiny, bare shoulders.

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As quoted from a Harper’s Bazaar piece, gay author and “fashion expert” Jill Gutowitz argues: “Outfits that were once the domain of queer women have been popularized on red carpets and in street fashion. Seeing lesbian fashion mainstreamed feels validating, like we were right this whole time,” referring to Zendaya, Bella Hadid, and Kendall Jenner, who have been papped in jeans. Now, as a cis-gendered man, my experience of lesbianism is limited, so I will take this moment to signal boost Alex Peters (Dazed’s Beauty Editor, who is a real-life lesbian) in saying “these are just pictures of women wearing suits.” 

The mainstream’s consumer-first absorption of gay culture is well documented, but this is the kind of thinking that chimes with all those conversations surrounding Harry Styles, which frame the singer as a flagbearer for gender nonconformity – all for bravely wearing nail polish and posing on the front cover of Vogue in a saloon dress. As the New York Post article suggests, the barely-divergent fashion choices of rich, good looking, and publicly straight people are somehow meant to say something profound about culture… beyond their wearers just being rich, good looking, and publicly straight. 

Women, in their many guises, have been wearing trousers since the 19th century. But according to The New York Post, Gutowitz feels a little “resentful” about this, quoting the original Harper’s Bazaar piece where she says “androgynous looks that lesbians were once shamed for, that were once visual identifiers among our own community, are now Urban Outfitters staples.” I can only imagine the pandemonium that the AW22 shows at Prada, Bottega Veneta, and Acne Studios would have caused. “If there’s anything that indicates dressing like a lesbian is trendy, it’s the emergence of white tank tops on those runways, not trousers,” adds Peters. 

Before signing off, The New York Post gives its crystal ball a final stroke, proposing a (highly) specific look for the coming months – “a baggy black t-shirt to wear in the pool and Croakies,” with summer’s hot accessory being “a very small pocket wallet on a chain”. Lesbians will no doubt be clutching their purses – sorry, wallets on a chain – as we speak…