Lessons in Fashion

"Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak." - Rachel Zoe

I have a complicated history with clothing. I think many people do, actually, but mine has the added dimensions of gender feels and being fat. I was a hardcore tomboy as a kid, completely shutting down the possibility of me wearing a dress or skirt or anything "girly" by age 6. I opted for t-shirts from the boys section (one of my favorites being a black Nike t-shirt I wore in my fourth grade photos) and tough outdoorsy pants from REI, and I stayed away from pink and purple as much as possible. As a teenager, I preferred carpenter jeans and t-shirts, much to the dismay of my mom. I vividly remember the arguments we had when shopping about my unwavering loyalty to the boys clothing department and sports bras.

Fast forward to this past year and coming to terms with being non-binary, and the freedom that could grant me. I think realizing I can just wear what I want has been one of the biggest things for me. I had so much shame and worry over how the world would percieve me and react to me after getting so much grief for it as a kid from friends, family, and everyone else I interacted with. It's a brave new world where I feel like I can tell gender norms and gendered divisions in clothing to fuck right off.

So, now I'm kind of figuring out what I want my style to be and what I feel comfortable in. I've been sticking with t-shirts and jeans and hoodies because it's easy, feels comfortably neutral (though is read as masculine in a lot of places), and doesn't lead to much questioning here in the Bay Area where it's the standard tech uniform. But I want to step that up a bit. And at the same time, I also want to simplify my clothing options. I've never owned an extraordinary amount of clothes, especially when comparing myself to friends, but I've been weeding through what I do own, trying to get rid of as much as possible. Kind of in a Marie Kondo way, but not entirely. I guess I'm going for less minimalist uniform, and more a capsule wardrobe for all seasons?

The reboot of Queer Eye has definitely been an inspiration, and I've been perusing various articles on minimalist and capsule wardrobes (check out Building A Capsule Wardrobe and The Tomboy's Guide to Dressing Better). I'm getting a better idea of where I want to go, I just have to get there now.

I have two tailored button up shirts from Cuffs in Hong Kong that I absolutely adore, so I decided to bite the bullet and just ordered three more, including two short sleeve button ups. I also sorted through all my t-shirts and boiled it down to 6 graphic tees I can wear to the office or just out, and a handful of tees and a pair of jeans I can dedicate to house repairs and gardening projects. I've got a couple of nice pairs of boots, and two pairs of sneakers I like. I even found a good pair of black slacks for nicer occasions, though I'm still missing a nice alternative to my hoodies (maybe a good cardigan?). I wish I could find some nicer shorts for this summer, but at least I've got a pair of board shorts I love from TomboyX. I eventually want to get a tailored suit as well, but that will definitely have to wait.

I think one of the more complicated components of this whole wardrobe simplification and style refresh has been letting go of things I don't really wear or truly love. And even though I occasionally still wear more femme clothing, I don't wear it that much. I've kept two dresses, one casual and one more formal, but everything else ended up in the donation pile. I even finally said goodbye to many of my more femme pieces of underwear, since the boxer briefs I have from TomboyX are all I really wear now. Funny how the little things like underwear can make such a huge difference.

Anyway, all of that is to say I'm getting closer to where I want to be and how I want to be seen, and it's pretty awesome. It's such a relief to be able to settle into my queerness as just me and my style, and stop worrying about it so much.