How many women – straight or not – would benefit from never having to consider what a man – real or imagined – thought of their clothes.
Though I realised I was into girls at around six, it took until 13 to come out, and then 17 to tell my mum.
After coming out, I’ve always stuck to feminine outfits and a feminine look.
So, I’ve never gone for gender-neutral. And what was once a queer-owned style has shifted to the mainstream, being appropriated by straight women to the point that it’s now impossible to infer a sexual orientation from the way a woman dresses.
Obviously, it’s fine. I’m not one to tell straight women to dress straight and vice versa, but it’s certainly having an impact on gay women. What was once lesbian code is now merely on-trend, thanks to the high-street ubiquity of unisex outfitters such as American Apparel and Uniqlo and the androgynous cuts of Scandinavian shops like Cos. Add to that the rise of gender-free accessories (Grenson shoes, beautiful and virtually indistinguishable between genders). Some women are shirking the “boyfriend” cut for actual men’s clothes, something gay women have been doing for years.
Celebrity influence has also helped, from the ever-quirky Tilda Swinton to the more tabloid-friendly, youth-appealing sorts such as Cara Delevingne. Even Emma Stone, who happens to be straight, prefers to put a little subtle butchness into her off-duty looks, dressing like a cross between Kristen Stewart and preppy Taylor Swift. As for singers Jessie Ware and Lorde, both are styled by Avigail Claire – who just knows how a monochrome masculine cut works on a feminine physique.
Stepping outside of sexuality, it’s an interesting shift for fashion. If lesbians and bisexual women dress butch, it’s not necessarily because they want to be boys, or deliberately to peacock for other women. They’re doing it because they don’t necessarily aspire to a supposed male ideal of what looks cute; they’re more interested in wearing what’s most comfortable to them, that or emulate ‘out’ model Freja Beha Erichsen in black tees, black jeans and biker jackets.
It’s not only going to be harder for lesbians to pull off, now that every woman is wearing these signposts of queer, but I’m a bit proud of not looking like a ‘dyke in those dungarees’. And that pride is in setting yourself apart, in wilfully doing something that will never ever be done for the pleasure of a bloke, is kind of liberating.